Home US DOMINIC LAWSON: Why Biden’s policies on Gaza and Ukraine are driven more by America’s Muslim voters, and the price of oil, than what’s happening on the ground

DOMINIC LAWSON: Why Biden’s policies on Gaza and Ukraine are driven more by America’s Muslim voters, and the price of oil, than what’s happening on the ground

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US President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters as he leaves St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach after attending mass on Sunday.

As President Biden tries to decide how to address the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, what do you think is the factor that concerns him most? Answer: Tuesday, November 5.

That’s the day the United States holds its presidential election to determine whether Biden (or his Republican opponent, Donald Trump) occupies the White House. And it looks like it’s very close, meaning that under the U.S. electoral college system, it could all hinge on just a few thousand votes in a handful of swing states.

Two of those contested countries are Michigan and Pennsylvania, which contain relatively large numbers of Muslim voters, voters who would normally be expected to vote for the Democratic candidate.

But if, enraged by the situation in Gaza, thousands of these voters stay home, that could, in the closest races, cost Biden the White House.

Risk

Therefore, it would be naïve to think that this has nothing to do with Biden’s decision last week to cancel the promised delivery of Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) to Israel.

This was apparently because extending President Netanyahu’s campaign to bomb Rafah would put the lives of an inordinate number of Palestinians at risk.

It grabbed the headlines as Biden would have liked. However, it could lead to the deaths of more innocent people in Gaza. JDAMs are guidance kits that convert “dumb bombs” into precisely guided “smart bombs,” allowing the user to avoid what is euphemistically called collateral damage.

US President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters as he leaves St. Edmond Roman Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach after attending mass on Sunday.

However, when it comes to the electoral effect in Michigan and Pennsylvania, President Biden sees, as some have noted, a “two-state solution” that has nothing to do with the future of the Middle East.

However bitter and all-consuming this issue may be for a section of the American public (especially younger voters), in the end, as former US President Tip O’Neill said: All politics is local. And few of those purely domestic considerations count for more, in America, than the cost of filling up your car’s gas tank. In other words, the price of gasoline.

This explains what would otherwise be inexplicable, in terms of the pressure the Biden administration has been putting on Ukraine to stop its successful drone attacks on oil refineries and storage facilities in Russia.

Strategy

Last month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Ukraine that “such attacks could have a knock-on effect in terms of the global energy situation.” This so delighted the Putin regime that it promoted Austin’s comments through its Tass news agency.

As the American military historian Phillips O’Brien observed: “It is difficult to think of anything stranger that an American secretary of defense could say. (But) in some ways it was honest, in the sense that Austin admitted that the policy of the US government, in an election year, was determined by the price of oil.’

As he also noted, whenever the United States itself has conducted military campaigns, most notably during World War II, attacking enemy oil facilities was a vital component of its strategy. This is certainly true of Russia’s campaign against Ukraine, which has systematically targeted energy infrastructure.

Smoke rises after an explosion in northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, pictured on May 12, 2024.

Smoke rises after an explosion in northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, pictured on May 12, 2024.

The Financial Times, which in March revealed the pressure Washington was putting on Ukraine to stop its attacks on Russian refineries, commented at the time that “oil prices have risen about 15 percent this year, driving up fuel costs.” just as US President Joe Biden begins his campaign for re-election.’

Bob McNally, a former White House energy adviser, told the newspaper: “Nothing terrifies a sitting American president more than a rise in fuel prices during an election year.”

Yes, but there is something especially absurd about complaining about Ukraine’s attacks on the Russian oil industry, when kyiv is doing precisely the kind of things that the West’s sanctions policy was intended to achieve, but failed to do.

Increase

And just as blocking a supply of JDAM to the Israel Defense Forces could only achieve the opposite of its supposed justification, Ukrainian attacks on Russian refineries are not, in reality, the reason for a global increase in JDAM prices. Petroleum.

As the US magazine Foreign Affairs noted: ‘Washington’s criticism is misplaced: attacks on oil refineries will not have the effect US officials fear.’

‘These attacks reduce Russia’s ability to convert its oil into usable products; They do not affect the volume of oil you can extract or export. In fact, with less domestic refining capacity, Russia will be forced to export more of its crude oil, not less, driving global prices down rather than up.

Therefore, Biden’s electoral decisions in Gaza and Ukraine not only go against the interests of the nations that the United States designates as allies in the war, but they do not make sense on their own terms.

They certainly do not impress America’s allies, while they only please its enemies.

AFTER AN EXPENSIVE TOAST, BEWARE OF SCAMMED TEA…

A scandal! That’s what Port Talbot locals say about the prices charged at Remo’s cafe, with its beautiful views over Aberavon Beach. As the Mail reported on Saturday, the charge that most outraged visitors was £4 for “two slices of toast”.

My opinion is that the director, Mr. Difrancesco, should be able to charge whatever he wants, since no one is obliged to have breakfast at Remo’s house.

However, I found their justification strange: “We only serve slices of fresh, hand-cut bread from a local bakery, which has been toasted and spread with real salted butter.”

What, unlike unreal salted butter? And as any cook will tell you, the freshest butter is usually unsalted, since salt is used as a preservative. This is one of the reasons why salted butter tends to be cheaper (easier to store in supermarkets for long periods). Additionally, salt can mask the flavor of lower quality butter.

The Mail also reported that a cup of tea at the South Wales cafe costs £3.10. I wonder if this would include Earl Grey, because as a so-called premium product, it is a traditional rip-off.

I learned this from my grandfather, a tea merchant, who told me that the best tea was from the tips of the leaves. The lower the plant, the lower the quality.

To hide the bad taste of lower quality tea, one trick was to add bergamot aroma. What’s your Earl Grey?, the fancy name designed to fool consumers into believing it’s a superior drink.

And my grandfather considered tea bags (as opposed to leaves) to be an abomination: it wasn’t real tea at all. I bet Remo’s doesn’t serve real tea along with “buttered toast with only real salted butter.”

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