Wednesday, October 11, 2023

President Biden responds to Hamas' surpise attack on Israel with a steady hand and a flurry of action as international crisis unfolds over a tense weekend

President Joe Biden addresses the nation.

Polls tell us that significant numbers of Americans, of all political stripes, are concerned that President Joe Biden, at age 80 (birthdate 11/2/42), might not be able to serve a full second term if re-elected. But a report yesterday (10/10/23) from Axios indicates the old guy is acting with vigor and confidence during likely the most severe international crisis of his presidency, prompted by Hamas' brutal weekend attack on Israel. Under the headline "Scoop: Inside Biden's weekend responding to Hamas attack on Israel," Zachary Basu writes:

President Biden participated in more than two dozen calls, meetings and briefings over the weekend as deadly chaos erupted in Israel and Gaza, triggering one of the most acute and dangerous foreign-policy crises of his presidency.

Unlike Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Hamas' surprise assault on Israel came as a shock to the U.S. and its allies — testing Biden's ability to coordinate an emergency response in real-time.

  • At least 11 Americans were killed in Israel in the Hamas attack, and several Americans are believed to be among the 100+ hostages taken into Gaza by the militant group, Biden confirmed Monday.
  • The president's early response to the attack is likely to come under particular scrutiny given that GOP infighting has left Congress paralyzed and without a House speaker for nearly a week.

Biden was on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu within hours of an initial briefing early Saturday morning, according to a White House official:

  • After vowing to provide Israel with whatever it needed, Biden spent the rest of the morning in constant communication with his national-security team, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA Director Bill Burns.
  • Biden also spoke with Jordan's King Abdullah and checked in on two members of Congress who were in Israel at the time of the attack, before delivering public remarks from the White House just before 3p.m. ET. Biden continued to stay on top of the situation throughout the weekend, Basu reports:
  • Over the next 48 hours, Biden repeatedly reconvened his national security team as the scale of the atrocities — including American casualties and likely hostages — continued to emerge.

  • Biden called Netanyahu again on Sunday, shelving tensions over the prime minister's controversial judicial overhaul as he reiterated the United States' "rock solid" commitment to Israel.
  • Netanyahu told Biden in that phone call that Israel has no choice but to unleash a ground operation in Gaza. Biden did not try to press Netanyahu or convince him not to go through with the ground invasion, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.

On Monday, Biden pledged to work with Israel "on every aspect of the hostage crisis," including sharing of intelligence and U.S. expertise.

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