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Global Implications of Israel-Hamas War



Before the outbreak of hostilities in Gaza, the United States and its NATO allies were deeply engaged in a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. The goal was to weaken Russia's grip on Ukrainian territory and deter similar actions in the future. However, the conflict was stalling, and the balance of power appeared to shift in Moscow's favor.


At the same time, the US was involved in an economic standoff with China, aimed at preventing Beijing from dominating key high-tech sectors. The Biden administration saw China as its primary long-term rival and was committed to addressing this challenge, though economic restrictions kept expanding, despite their initial narrow focus.


In the Middle East, the Biden administration was pursuing a delicate diplomatic maneuver to prevent Saudi Arabia from aligning more closely with China. This involved offering security guarantees to Riyadh and the potential sharing of sensitive nuclear technology in exchange for Saudi normalization of relations with Israel. The outcome of this complex deal was uncertain, and the administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue was coming under scrutiny.


The conflict in Gaza has disrupted these geopolitical dynamics in several significant ways:


Obstacle to Regional Normalization Efforts: The Israel-Hamas war has created obstacles to the US-led Saudi-Israeli normalization effort, as mounting casualties make the deal more challenging to achieve. Though the incentives for normalization will persist, the road ahead will be fraught with difficulties.


Shift of Focus Away from Asia: The Biden administration's strategy to allocate more resources and attention to Asia is hampered by the conflict's demands on time and diplomatic effort. The crisis in the Middle East diverts diplomatic and military capacity away from Asia, impacting the administration's ability to handle growing pressure from China.


Consequences for Ukraine: The war in Gaza further complicates the situation in Ukraine. The conflict there had already become a war of attrition, with artillery playing a central role. As the US and its allies struggled to meet Ukraine's ordnance needs, the conflict in Gaza diverts resources that could have otherwise supported Ukraine. This situation poses challenges for the US if Ukraine starts losing ground or faces further crises.


European Division: The conflict has reopened divisions within the European Union, with some countries supporting Israel, while others show more sympathy for the Palestinians. This rift has strained European unity and exposed diplomatic weaknesses, undermining the broader goal of forming a strong coalition of democracies.


Advantage for Russia and China: The war in Gaza serves the interests of Russia and China, as it distracts the US from Ukraine and Asia. This diversion aligns with their objectives, enabling them to present the US-led world order as a failure. Russian and Chinese media campaigns are already leveraging the conflict to promote their vision of a multipolar world order.


Beyond these direct implications, the war and the US response to it will have lasting effects on American diplomacy. Global south leaders, who already perceived double standards in Western attitudes, are likely to become more challenging to deal with. They may increasingly view China as a useful counterweight to the US.


This episode will also damage the reputation of US foreign-policy competence. If accompanied by negative developments in Ukraine, other states will question American judgment, which is crucial for international credibility and influence.

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