Home News The Middle East Is Developing a Biden Doctrine. It’s also really large.

The Middle East Is Developing a Biden Doctrine. It’s also really large.


Two things loom large for me regarding the widening Middle Eastern crisis:

As we enter into a multifront war involving Gaza, Iran, Israel and the region — with my hope being that a “Biden Doctrine” emerges that addresses both its seriousness and complexity — we will witness a new strategy from Vice President Joseph Biden’s administration that addresses it appropriately.

Without such an expansive, courageous doctrine, the crisis in the region will worsen rapidly – strengthening Iran, isolating Israel, and dismantling America’s ability to influence events there for good.

biden israel
biden israel

My reporting has exposed the convergence between strategic thinking and planning that forms my reporting as “Biden Doctrine”, and three tracks: (1) Innovation (2) Strategy (3) Implementation.

On one track would be taking a strong and firm stance towards Iran, including engaging in aggressive military retaliation against Iran’s agents and allies across the region in response to the killing of three U.S. soldiers at a Jordanian military base by an apparent drone launched from pro-Iranian militia in Iraq.

On the second track would be an unprecedented U.S. diplomatic initiative to promote Palestinian statehood immediately. This could involve some form of U.S. recognition of demilitarized Palestinian state in West Bank and Gaza Strip that only emerges after Palestinians had constructed credible institutions and security capabilities that ensure its viability without endangering Israel’s security. Biden administration officials have been consulting experts inside and outside government regarding what forms this recognition of Palestinian statehood might take.

On the third track would be an expanded U.S. security alliance with Saudi Arabia that involves normalized relations between them and Israel – provided Israel agrees to embrace a diplomatic process leading to demilitarized Palestinian state led by an empowered Palestinian Authority.

If the Obama administration can pull it together — an unlikely prospect — a Biden Doctrine could become the largest strategic realignment since 1979 Camp David treaty.

A Biden Doctrine must include three intertwined tracks for it to work effectively; I believe U.S. officials understand this fact.

And I know one thing for certain: Oct. 7 has forced the Biden administration into an essential rethink of the Middle East following Hamas’ barbaric attack against Israel; massive Israeli retaliation that has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians; widening attacks against Israeli and U.S. personnel in the region; and Israel’s right-wing government’s inability to propose any plan for governing Gaza without Hamas as part of a plan after war’s conclusion.

Reassessing our policies shows a growing understanding that Iran cannot continue its attempts to push us out of the region, Israel into extinction, and our Arab allies into intimidation using proxy forces such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Shiite militias in Iraq while Tehran stands idly by without incurring any costs of its actions.

As well, it signals an acknowledgment that the United States will never have the global legitimacy, NATO allies and Arab/Muslim allies necessary to take more aggressive steps against Iran unless we stop letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold our policy hostage and begin developing a credible Palestinian Authority capable of one day administering Gaza and West Bank efficiently while remaining good neighbors with Israel on any final borders they might negotiate together.

Nader Mousavizadeh, founder and C.E.O of Macro Advisory Partners geopolitical consultancy firm and senior adviser to then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan describes this emergence of Biden Doctrine as “dual reckoning strategy.”

“To effectively engage Iran, you need both strategic and non-strategic moves at once,” stated Mousavizadeh. “One must call back on their threats while also engaging in unprecedented steps towards creating a demilitarized Palestinian state in ways the U.S. has never done before.” Pushing back against Iran and its allies strengthens Israel and our Arab allies while an authentic and bold U.S. commitment to creating a Palestinian state provides legitimacy to act against Iran militarily and politically while isolating Iran militarily and politically.”

I think this statement is spot on: it is long past time for the United States to call both Iran and Netanyahu’s bluffs.

My encounter with Netanyahu inspired this rule of Middle East reporting: Regardless of what people tell you in English in private conversations, what really counts are their public comments in their native tongue.

Netanyahu has privately told Vice President Biden that he might one day consider demilitarized Palestinian statehood; in Hebrew public statements however he has repeatedly disproved such hopes.

Biden has seen it all before and knows that Netanyahu is only trying to use him as bait. Sometimes age can be used as an asset; now is the time for Biden Doctrine action.

Iran has been allowed to destroy every constructive initiative we’ve attempted in the Middle East — as long as Tehran did not directly attack us — while we allowed a Netanyahu government that actively worked against Palestinian statehood by arming Hamas against PA for many years, guaranteeing no one-state partner could emerge.

Mousavizadeh stated that October 7 was proof that U.S. policies towards Iran and Israel-Palestine had failed. These policies enabled and empowered Hamas to attack Israel; enabled and empowered Houthis to disrupt global shipping; enabled pro-Iranian Shiite militias to try driving out U.S. forces deployed there to keep ISIS out and maintain reasonable stability; they even empowered pro-Iranian Shiite militias who seek to remove American forces deployed there for antiterrorism purposes and help keep ISIS out.

He noted that all this had taken place without anyone holding Tehran responsible for its deployment of poisonous and destructive nonstate actors against constructive efforts to create a more inclusive region by our allies.

As such, I believe, hope and pray for a Biden Doctrine to emerge for the Middle East — something Israelis should also embrace.

Israel is losing on all fronts. Israel has lost the narrative war over Gaza: Although Hamas murdered and raped Israelis, Israel has been hauled before the International Court of Justice at The Hague for civilian casualties caused while searching for Hamas fighters hidden among civilians. Israel is losing the ability to ensure its safety without overextension in the long term, by invading Gaza without an effective plan in place to find a non-Hamas Palestinian partner who can govern there in a way that allows Israel to withdraw safely. Israel is losing on both the regional stability fronts, too: Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis and Shiite militias from Iraq are now unleashing their onslaught on Israeli cities; yet it cannot find enough Arab or NATO allies to wage its defense since Israel refuses to cultivate credible, legitimate Palestinian partners.

Mousavizadeh concluded that, should a Biden Doctrine emerge, “it would represent good geopolitics abroad and solid politics at home.

Defense against Iran could take several forms: militarily and politically, taking away its ace card – the Palestinian card from Tehran; supporting Palestinian statehood on terms consistent with Israeli security; and creating the conditions for normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia on terms acceptable to both parties and Palestinians alike.

Strategy that could work both with Arab Americans on Lake Michigan and Arab allies on the Persian Gulf; one which may force an internal reckoning within Iranian politics, Palestinian politics and Israeli politics.

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