A popular meme depicts salvos of Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors on their way to counter scores of Hamas rockets over a skyline.
Under Israel’s interceptors, one caption reads: ‘My tax dollars.’ Under the Hamas rockets, another caption reads: ‘Somehow also my tax dollars.’
This might be humorous if it didn’t capture a tragic truth: as Israel fights to dismantle Hamas terrorists in Gaza following their barbaric Oct. 7 attacks, President Biden finds himself funding both sides of the war.
Backed by overwhelming congressional support, the U.S. has strongly invested in Iron Dome and other security cooperation with Israel over many administrations.
The Biden administration, however, decided to reverse President Donald Trump’s cuts to taxpayer-funded assistance to the Palestinians and resume the risky practice of annually sending hundreds of millions in aid, including to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip where aid is at danger of diversion.
The State Department internally warned the incoming Biden administration about the ‘high risk’ that ‘Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza.’ But Biden resumed aid to Gaza anyway.
In May 2021, I learned firsthand about this ‘high risk’ when I visited Israel after its 11-day war with Hamas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and colleagues briefed me on how Hamas diverts aid using what the Palestinian terrorist group euphemistically calls ‘taxation’ and other extortive means.
It was jarring to learn how Hamas steals water pipes and other civilian infrastructure to manufacture rockets that target Israel – a brazen weaponization of aid that Hamas recently bragged about in online videos.
When Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently appeared before the Appropriations Committee, I asked him whether he could guarantee that taxpayer-funded aid to Gaza was not used to help Hamas execute the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. He repeatedly declined to make that guarantee.
Regretfully, this isn’t the only example of Biden funding both sides of major conflicts.
Amid Israel’s war on Hamas, the U.S. has sent two carrier strike groups to the region to deter Iran and its terrorist proxies like Hezbollah.
Yet, in recent years, Biden has also enriched Iran – which seeks nuclear weapons and is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism – through non-enforcement of sanctions on Iranian energy exports.
According to OPEC data, during Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, the Iranian regime’s revenue from illicit exports of crude oil and condensate totaled $19.4 billion in 2019 and $7.9 billion in 2020.
In contrast, Biden’s non-enforcement of sanctions beginning in 2021 allowed Iran to amass over $66 billion by the end of 2022, a number that is likely to be well over $100 billion by December 2023.
These figures don’t include tens of billions in Biden-authorized sanctions relief and ransom payments to Iran since he took office
The war in Ukraine is another example.
Biden has so far provided $116 billion in aid to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion. Yet the administration is also funding Putin’s war machine by allowing Russia to continue exporting oil and gas under a price cap regime.
While Western sanctions initially decreased Russian budget revenues, Russia learned to circumvent them. In fact, in 2022, Russia earned even larger annual revenues from oil than in 2021, and oil exports at times exceeded pre-war levels.
It’s high time for Biden to end policies that allow the world’s worst regimes and terrorist groups to profit.
In the Middle East, this means fully enforcing and expanding U.S.-led secondary sanctions on Iran.
This also means embracing policies that ensure taxpayer-funded aid to Hamas-controlled areas do not benefit Hamas or any other Palestinian terrorists.
In Ukraine’s conflict, this means fully enforcing and expanding secondary sanctions to crush Russia’s energy exports just like Trump’s maximum pressure campaign did to Iran’s.
Equally important, Biden must end his war on domestic energy production and allow our nation to lead in the international markets as we achieved during the Trump administration.
When asked why Biden refused to fully enforce sanctions and let Iran sell tens of billions in illicit oil exports, NSC spokesperson John Kirby inexplicably answered: ‘Supply and demand have to be balanced.’
The same logic of ‘avoiding destabilizing energy markets’ also clearly underpins the administration’s approach to Russia.
Let’s be clear: Biden’s war on domestic energy – with onerous environmental regulations, rejections of new oil leases at unprecedented rates, and threats to tax so-called ‘windfall profits’ – destabilized global energy markets and drove prices up around the globe.
Now we see the administration turning to Russia, Iran and even Venezuela to ‘balance’ the energy markets – all while enriching our foes.
This isn’t how the leader of the free world should act. The better alternative is for energy markets is to rely on American drillers rather than terrorist killers.
Oscar Wilde once said life imitates art. Under President Biden, U.S. foreign policy more frequently imitates memes. Yet this tragedy is entirely avoidable.