top of page

The Myth of the Political Hourglass

The recent statement by the U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, expressing uncertainty about Israel's timeframe for the conflict in Gaza, has raised tension in Israel about the time constraints imposed by our American allies.

Kissinger

 

The question arises: might Israel be compelled to conclude its campaign against Hamas prematurely due to this 'political hourglass'? Spoiler, the answer is no.


The U.S. administration acknowledges and backs Israel's objective to dismantle Hamas' control in Gaza. The U.S. is providing substantial political and military support. Yet, this unwavering support for Israel comes at a cost for the U.S. administration, facing both external and internal pressures to initiate a ceasefire. Some speculate that President Biden's stance may jeopardize his re-election prospects (although this analysis is flawed, as progressive voters critical of Biden's policies are unlikely to shift their support to the Republican Party).

 

The U.S. administration is also deeply concerned about the risks of escalating into a regional conflict, the number of civilians casualties, and ensuring that Israel adheres to international law. Consequently, the U.S. has a vested interest in curtailing the duration of the conflict and establishing promptly a political horizon for the day after.


The strategic alliance between the U.S. and Israel is founded on shared values and encompasses extensive military, security, and political cooperation. This alliance, of course, is not symmetrical; Israel is attentive to U.S. concerns and even adjusted its military operation in response to American requests at the beginning of the current war. It's plausible that under U.S. pressure, Israel might expedite its military operations, even at an increased risk to its soldiers.


However, Israel is not a proxy of the U.S., and the U.S. does not treat Israel as such. Therefore, while the U.S. may urge Israel to consider a ceasefire, Israel will assert its need to achieve its objectives against Hamas, viewing it as a matter of existential importance. This stance marks a significant departure from previous conflicts, diminishing the relevance of the political hourglass.


Another point, particularly for those with a more cynical view of Israeli politics, is the alignment between Prime Minister Netanyahu's political interests, and actually those of all the other parties in the coalition, with the military objectives set.

 

The late former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who passed away only two days ago, famously said, "Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic policy." There is some truth to this statement. Thus, while the political timeline may influence the conduct and tempo of the conflict, it is unlikely to alter its ultimate outcome.

Comments


bottom of page