Follow us on social

Presidential hopefuls outdo each other on Hamas, Israel war

Presidential hopefuls outdo each other on Hamas, Israel war

Candidates across the spectrum urge overwhelming force and blast Biden's weakness. Only one calls for restraint.

Analysis | Washington Politics

The 2024 presidential candidates are not holding back. Across the board they are issuing strident condemnations of Hamas's brutal attacks against Israel and support for Israel's ensuing war in Gaza.

Nearly all are using the events to blame Biden Administration policies in the Middle East.

Only one, Republican Vivek Ramaswamy, has urged restraint on the part of the U.S., pointing to his colleagues' anti-Iran rhetoric as a possible slide into war for Washington and a broader Middle East conflagration.

Republicans overall offered the most bombastic takes, with Trump proclaiming that his Abraham Accords had brought “peace” to the Middle East before Biden came in and blew it all up.

The accords, which sought U.S. normalization with Arab states, were only signed by Morocco, Bahrain, UAE, and Sudan (whose government was overthrown this year and is in the middle of another civil war) before Trump left office. While “peace” is clearly in the eye of the beholder, these agreements were not only upheld, but the Biden White House has praised and sought doggedly to expand them, reportedly offering Saudi Arabia all sorts of concessions to join.

That the accords left the actual peace process – between Israel-Palestine – off the table, is being blamed in part for the tinderbox that led to last weekend’s attacks.

Beyond that, candidates are demanding reprisals, blaming Iran, and warning of terror attacks in the U.S.

Cornel West, who is running as an independent primary candidate on Biden’s left flank, was the only one to offer a warning against civilian killings on both sides, and lays blame for Hamas’s action at the feet of US-Israeli policies.

Here’s how they all line up:

The 2024 Democrats:

President Biden: “In this moment we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack. There’s no justification for terrorism. There’s no excuse.”

Marianne Williamson: “Innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the actions of the Israeli government are, even as I write this, either being tortured or killed or are dead already. Children have been taken hostage. A nation is terrorized. (...) And yes, I know. These events did not occur in a vacuum. I could write about — and indeed I have, and at length — the myriad injustices Palestinians have endured at the hands of Israel. (...) I will have much to say in the coming days about what is happening in Israel and how I feel the United States should respond. For now, I stand with Israel. And I stand with the Palestinian people. I do not stand with Hamas, nor will I ever. For their cause is not justice. Their cause is terror.

2024 Republicans

Donald Trump: "The atrocities we are witnessing in Israel would never have happened if I was president." (...) "less than four years ago, we had peace in the Middle East with the historic Abraham Accords. Today we have an all-out war in Israel, and it's going to spread very quickly. What a difference a president makes."


This has become a ubiquitous charge lobbed against the White House by Republicans in the wake of the Hamas attacks. The U.S. had unfrozen $6 billion in Iranian oil profits that were being held by South Korea, in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages last month. The money is currently held by Qatar, which was expected to be doled out for humanitarian needs in Iran. None of that money has left Doha, according to reports.

Gov. Ron DeSantis: Proposed anti-Iran sanctions for the state of Florida on Tuesday, calling the Tehran government a “clearinghouse for terrorist funding in the region.” Meanwhile, he said, "Israel, with the full support of the United States, should kill Hamas members and extinguish their entire infrastructure,"

He also blamed Biden for unfreezing $6 billion for Iran.

Amb. Nikki Haley: Her message to Israel was simple. “Finish them. Hamas did this, you know Iran’s behind this. Finish them.”

"What happened to Israel could happen here in America,” Haley said in a separate interview. “I have been terribly worried about the fact that Iran has said that the easiest way to get into America is through the Southern border … we don’t need to wait for another 9/11.”

Vice President Mike Pence: “Biden should demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages in Gaza and direct JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) to be prepared to mobilize US Special Forces with Israeli Defense Forces to get our people home. Hamas gives ‘em up, or we go get ‘em.”

In response to a report that Biden is considering sending a second aircraft carrier, Pence said “Just do it!”

Pence also attacked what he said were “voices of appeasement” in the GOP, including Ramaswamy, Trump, and DeSantis, who have all urgedrestraint and questioned U.S. interests in the Ukraine War. “This is also what happens when you have leaders in the Republican Party signaling retreat on the world stage.”

Sen Tim Scott: “The last thing we need is a Joe Biden wing of the Republican Party on foreign policy,” echoing Pence on the issue of Israel and Hamas.

He also called the attacks “an assault on Western Civilization. The truth is though, Joe Biden funded these attacks on Israel. America’s weakness is blood in the water for bad actors, but this is worse than that. We didn’t just invite this aggression, we paid for it.”

Later, he added, “at least 9 Americans have been killed at the hands of evil Hamas terrorists. It’s time to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, who has the resources and the power to wipe Hamas off the map.”

Gov. Chris Christie: "What I would be doing is making sure, one, that Israel has everything that it needs to be able to take whatever actions it needs to take.” In this interview, he also criticizes “irresponsible” GOP House members for removing Speaker Kevin McCarthy and paralyzing the House in a time of crisis.

More Christie: “Biden’s appeasement of Israel’s enemies has invited this war against Israel. Appeasement anywhere never works. We must do whatever it takes to support the State of Israel in its time of grave danger, and we must end the scourge of Iran-backed terrorism. This terrorism is funded by Biden’s idiotic release of $6 billion to the Iranians.

“The Hamas war against Israel is now the second war started under Biden’s failed presidency, first by Russia in Ukraine and now by Hamas in Israel. Both could have been deterred by strong American leadership.”

Christie also blamed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as signaling weakness.

Vivek Ramaswamy: He pushes for strong support of Israel and blasts Hamas, but warns of a wider war that could include the U.S. He presented a 6-point plan on X, which included critiques of Haley and Pence for escalatory rhetoric:

“These histrionics are unhelpful & unserious. The U.S. should provide Israel with diplomatic support, intelligence-sharing, and necessary munitions to defend its own homeland, while taking special care to avoid a broader regional war in the Middle East that would *not* advance U.S. interests.”

The 2024 independents

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: “This ignominious, unprovoked, and barbaric attack on Israel must be met with world condemnation and unequivocal support for the Jewish state’s right to self-defense. We must provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself — now. As President, I’ll make sure that our policy is unambiguous so that the enemies of Israel will think long and hard before attempting aggression of any kind.

“I applaud the strong statements of support from the Biden White House for Israel in her hour of need. However, the scale of these attacks means it is likely that Israel will need to wage a sustained military campaign to protect its citizens. Statements of support are fine, but we must follow through with unwavering, resolute, and practical action. America must stand by our ally throughout this operation and beyond as it exercises its sovereign right to self-defense.”

Cornel West: In an interview with POLITICO, West said that “Israel and [the] United States are primarily responsible” for the violence that took place near the Gaza strip that has resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and hundreds more in retaliatory strikes. But, he added, “Hamas must take responsibility for killing innocent folk.”

“The United States bears some responsibility, no doubt about that. And I think that Hamas and [Islamic J]ihad bear responsibility for killing innocent people,” he said. “Palestinians have a right to defend themselves in the same way that Israel has a right to defend itself. There’s no doubt about that. But neither has a right to kill innocent people.”

He added that “the state of Israel has been doing that for 75 years.”

Earlier, West said, “I would stop the killing of innocent people — be they Palestinians or Israelis — by calling for an end to the vicious U.S.-supported Israeli occupation. This violent resistance to oppression is the desperate language of an occupied people.”

Photo credit: From left, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Nikki Haley (Shutterstock/Julie Hansen); Ron DeSantis (Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock)
Analysis | Washington Politics
What's next for Maduro after US sanctions deal

Maria Corina Machado Political Rally in Maracaibo, Venezuela Maracaibo, Venezuela: The most prominent pre-candidate to win the opposition primary elections, Maria Corina Machado made a brilliant tour through three eastern states: Anzoategui in the city of Barcelona, Sucre in the town of Cumana and Nueva Esparta in the Los Oaks of the Maneiro municipality. On this tour of Maria Corina through the three eastern states, she was received by a large crowd of her followers who packed each concentration site. This corroborates what various survey and measurement firms have pointed out, which seems to indicate that next October 22. Machado will establish herself as the main leader of the opposition, willing to challenge the ambitions of t Copyright: xHumbertoxMatheusxxEyepixxGroupx via Reuters

What's next for Maduro after US sanctions deal

Latin America

It’s been a tumultuous two weeks in Venezuela.

First, the Biden administration and the Maduro government signed a deal exchanging democratic guarantees for sanctions relief on oil, natural gas, and gold mining — some of Venezuela’s largest industries. With the sanctions lifted, Maduro allowed the opposition’s primary election to go ahead.

keep readingShow less
The US knows the War on Terror is a big fat failure in Africa
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes a Niger Army soldier during marksmanship training as part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, Feb. 28, 2017. Niger was one of seven locations to host tactical-level training during the exercise while staff officers tested their planning abilities at a simulated multinational headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Klutts/released)

The US knows the War on Terror is a big fat failure in Africa


America’s Global War on Terror has seen its share of stalemates, disasters, and outright defeats. During 20-plus years of armed interventions, the United States has watched its efforts implode in spectacular fashion, from Iraq in 2014 to Afghanistan in 2021. The greatest failure of its “Forever Wars,” however, may not be in the Middle East, but in Africa.

“Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated,” President George W. Bush told the American people in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, noting specifically that such militants had designs on “vast regions” of Africa.

keep readingShow less
Israel-Hamas deal: Talking vs. bombing, works

A woman holds a sign as the families and supporters of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas gather to raise awareness and demand their immediate release in Tel Aviv, Israel November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Shir Torem

Israel-Hamas deal: Talking vs. bombing, works


The agreement reached today between Israel and Hamas — and brokered by Qatar and Egypt — is an important first step that will hopefully give all sides an opportunity to step back from the precipice of a larger regional conflagration, and to consider options for ending this war other than by the military destruction of one another.

The return of the hostages to Israel in exchange for the return of Palestinian prisoners is welcome news and hopefully will proceed through subsequent cycles until all the hostages have been returned. The exchange proves that solutions can only be found through diplomacy through the help of actors in the region who can talk to all sides, in this case, Qatar and Egypt.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis