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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Gaza seaborne aid will require US boots on ground

Mar 13

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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Roughly two million survivors in the Gaza Strip have been scraping by on dangerously low quantities of water and food. Surrounded by a full Israeli siege without an exit, there’s been considerable global concern about Gazans’ fate. In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden promised to respond to the crisis, assigning the United States the task of building a large offshore pier capable of delivering emergency relief to survivors trapped inside the strip.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan says the pier aims to deliver 2 million meals per day and such a massive humanitarian mission will require U.S. “boots on the ground” to set up distribution channels. Zeihan says American soldiers will ultimately need to be dispatched to Gaza to ensure the operation runs smoothly and that food and water are delivered safely.

Below is an excerpt from Peter’s March 13 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

In President Biden’s State of the Union address a few days ago, he announced plans to build a floating dock to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. This dock would help provide significant food supplies to this area, but at what cost?

You can probably imagine how the Israelis feel about this floating dock, but is that really the worst thing? This move by the U.S. will carry significant diplomatic and strategic repercussions, but a shift away from Israel and some other Middle Eastern powers might be exactly what President Biden is going for.

With the potential for a reshuffling of Middle Eastern alliances and relationships, the opportunity to buddy up with a much more powerful country — like ahem, Turkey — is on the table. There’s no telling how all of this will shake out, but its likely that U.S. policy in the Middle East is shifting.

Hey, everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado, I have kind of a weird one for you today, because I’m not sure if I’m really no idea where it’s going. But this, the event has the potential for remaking a lot of things with US policy in the Middle East in general. If you guys watched the State of the Union address a couple days ago, almost a throwaway line that people like blurbed, about for five minutes and then immediately forgot was the Biden administration is committed publicly to building a floating dock that services the Gaza territory in order to get humanitarian aid in, the idea is that the throughput will be enough for at least 2 million meals a day, which would be roughly 1/3 of the food demands for the territory. Now, remember, Gaza is basically a walled open air prison camp. And so they grow no food themselves, and they’re completely dependent on aid. And in the aftermath of the October, Hamas attacks on Israel that killed some, like 1600 People just horrific attack, the Israeli counter effort to try to root out Hamas has destroyed probably two thirds of the housing stock within Gaza, probably more than than that of their infrastructure. And they’re gearing up for another assault in the southern part of the strip to go after what they think are the remnants of Hamas, which is where now most of the population has been huddled, because the rest of the strip has been destroyed. Already, we’ve seen about 35,000 deaths among the Gaza population, which has over 1% of the pre war, civilian population. And if the Rafah attack happens, they’ll at least have that number of casualties again, so this has already become the single most high casualty conflict in recent years, that is not in Sub Saharan Africa. And it’s only gonna get worse before it gets better. And there is no version of a future where Gaza is self sustaining. They don’t generate their own energy, they can’t grow their own food, everything comes in from aid from somewhere else. And because of the war, the Israelis have basically blockaded the entrances except for some very, very specific circumstances. Anyway, the Biden administration, let me rephrase that Biden personally, when he was vice president, if you remember, Obama hated everybody, he didn’t want have conversations with anyone. And so he basically sent Biden to do all the talking, especially in the Middle East, because it was the region. Obama wasn’t interested in anything, but he was really not interested in the Middle East. So Biden has a first name relationship with most of the leaders across the region. And he and the Israelis did not get along at all, especially Netanyahu. And me, let’s be perfectly blunt. Here. Netanyahu is an asshole, and no one likes him. But he’s an effective political leader when it comes to managing a coalition. And his attitude hasn’t changed at all during the conflict, if anything, it’s hardened. And so he’s basically ignored what everyone has said about the conflict, pursuing Israeli national interest. I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is no way that Israel will be secure so long as Hamas exists, and I don’t see a way to destroy Hamas without destroying Gaza. But between that immovable rock, and that irresistible force, the United States is attempting to find a third way it won’t work. But it’s attempting to find a way to allow the Palestinians to at least live and so you have to have a degree of respect for at least that. Here’s the thing. There is no version of what the bight administration has now pledged itself to do that meshes with any version of Israeli national security, regardless of who is in charge in Jerusalem. Even if the left wing peaceniks took over at Israel tomorrow, they would still be opposed to this, this, this cuts to the core of Israeli survivability. And there is broad support for the military operation in Gaza, across the political spectrum despite the civilian casualties. So there is no way there’s no way that the bight administration is unaware of this. And there is no way that the Joint Chiefs didn’t explain to the cabinet of the Biden administration, that if we do this, we then also have to bring in a logistics team in order to deliver aid by small boat to this dock. And then we have to put boots on the ground in Gaza to set up a truck distribution system to get the aid to the people. Remember, 2 million meals a day this is on a much larger scale than what went down with the Berlin Airlift. And with the Berlin Airlift, you could just drop it and fly away. Here you’re talking about having to deliver it. The UN can’t operate in Gaza in war, only the US military could so we’re now talking about having a larger US military presence in and around Gaza than it has in the rest of the Middle East put together there is no version of that the the Israelis are okay with and it begs the question what happens the next day? So let me give you the caveat first. It’s a floating dock. The military could just leave. This isn’t like the Afghan evacuation. In Afghanistan, the Kabul airport was an air bridge, moving things by air is extremely expensive, and is a hell of a bottleneck. And you can only fit a few 100 people on each individual craft, when you’re dealing with a naval operation, this is the sort of thing that US excels at. And if the decision was made to pull the plug, every US military personnel could be out of there in a few hours. So we’re not setting up for a repeat of that. But we are setting up for a military footprint that is significant in a place that has absolutely no strategic value to the United States. Also, Hamas is still very active in this region, Israel’s not done. So there will be attacks on US forces. Biden knows that spider knows all of this. And so what happens the next day, it feels like the United States is preparing to breach the Israeli relationship. And if you do that, there are a number of secondary decisions that have to be made in a very short period of time. Now, remember, the Biden administration is the administration that ended the American involvement in Afghanistan, and has slimmed down our involvement everywhere else in the region, to very, very thin bones, going from here to a full pull up throughout the entire region? That is very possible. But think of the alliances that are forming up within this region right now. The Israelis have succeeded in building up diplomatic relationships, not just with Jordan in Egypt, but with Morocco and Tunisia, and with the UAE, and they’re inches away from having a normalized relationship with Saudi Arabia. If the United States decides to cut and run from Israel, that means all of these countries are on their own. Now, there’s any number of ways that the US can disengage one of them is to induce other powers like the Arabs and the Israelis to work together out of a sense of desperation, this could do that. But that would also mean that the United States is preparing to cut its connection with the slave states of the Persian Gulf, that would be gutter, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, three countries that import vast quantities of labor, abuse them horribly, and then send them home when they’re no longer useful tip them. This would mean an end to that, too. Now, if if if, if this is the Biden administration’s plan, and if if if the Biden administration wants to have influence in the region after this, it would have to make a partnership with another player. The only option is Turkey. And we have seen renewed diplomatic connections between the Biden administration and the Erawan administration of Turkey over the course of the last couple of months. Now, the Turks in the Korean government are don’t like the Israelis very much at all. But they’ve by far the Turks have the most powerful military in the region, arguably more powerful than everyone else is put together. If there is to be a post Israel post Saudi American position in the region, it has to be with Turkey. And so there’s already been multiple meetings at the assistant defense secretary level, to figure out how we can get along again, because those relations have been poor ever since the Iraq War started back in 2003. So this has the potential to be game changing for the region. And as for someone who has kind of been sick of dealing with this region for the last 20 years, I gotta admit, it’s a kind of an attractive approach. The Israelis are carrying out a military operation that is making everybody squeamish, even countries that don’t much care for the Palestinians. And using this as a way to not just reduce relations with the Israelis who are apoplectic about this doc, but the Saudis and the Emiratis, as well. And to get along with a country that is much more democratic, which is much more strategically viable, that is much more capable. That’s a good trade. But there’s a lot of water that has to flow under this bridge as it’s being built before we get there. And we’re not going to have a good idea of just how committed the Biden ministration is to whatever plan until such time as the stock is operational, and or we see a significant shift in American relations with the Turks, but we should get some good data points on all of that in the next two or three months.

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