Biden budgeted for ethnic cleansing in his $106 billion request
Speaking Security Newsletter | Note n°221 | 31 October 2023
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The White House deployed the Secretaries of Defense and State to Capitol Hill this morning to sell Biden’s $106 billion spending request, which includes billions in military aid for Israel. With rising concerns that Israel’s ongoing military offensive will amount to mass ethnic cleansing, a bunch of protestors thankfully attended the congressional hearing too.
The protestors are right
As this newsletter’s resident budget boffin, I want to explain why the activists were right to protest this specific spending plan. Biden’s proposal lists up to $23.5 billion in funding related to Israel’s military offensive: $8.7 billion in direct military aid, $5.6 billion in potential long-term military support, up to $3.5 billion for State Department’s migration assistance programs, and up to $5.7 billion for USAID’s humanitarian aid programs.1
All of it supports the forced displacement of Palestinians. Based on my reading of the tea leaves — and the 69-page PDF from the White House Office of Management Budget detailing the $106 billion request — I believe Biden is prepared to subsidize ethnic cleansing2 on a historic scale. Here’s how.
The $8.7 billion in military aid would bankroll Israel’s ongoing violent displacement of Palestinian civilians by sustaining its bombing campaign and ground invasion. The other $5.6 billion in military spending is there to support a bloody, protracted invasion of Gaza (which Israeli military leaders openly admit is a real possibility) by boosting US weapons stockpiles in Israel that Israel can draw from upon request, and funding the president’s new authority to send Israel any weapon directly from Pentagon stocks (with minimal oversight). Biden’s plan would primarily manage the humanitarian fallout not by securing Gaza, but by financing mass migration. Judging by how they were written in the proposal, the intent behind the $3.5 billion request for migration assistance is to manage near-term displacement, and the $5.7 billion in humanitarian relief is to accommodate the long-term (and perhaps permanent) mass displacement of Palestinian civilians.
Israeli leaders have expressed interest in ultimately shrinking Palestinian territory and greatly reducing the number of people living in it, and formalized plans for the complete ethnic cleansing of Gaza have recently emerged from the country’s political establishment. As president, Biden could prevent Israel from weaponizing mass migration, but he chose to budget for it instead.
^Alt text for screen readers: How Biden's $106 billion plan funds ethnic cleansing. Up to $24 billion supports Israel's forced displacement of Palestinian civilians. This table summarizes and provides requested amounts for key components of Biden’s proposal. Increases Israel's military budget by well over a third to sustain its ground invasion and bombing campaign ($8.7 billion). Boosts arms production "to respond to the situation in Israel." Allows Biden to send Israel weapons from the Pentagon's own stocks at his discretion ($5.6 billion). Subsidizes forced displacement: "Resources support displaced and conflict-affected civilians, including...Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries” (up to $3.5 billion). Funds long-term mass displacement: “Crisis could result in displacement across borders and higher regional humanitarian needs, and funding may be used to meet evolving programming requirements outside of Gaza, including...Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt” (up to $5.7 billion). Figures, quotes via the Office of Management and Budget’s October 20 2023 spending request. Migration, disaster funding is also for Eastern Europe. Full analysis: stephensemler.substack.com.
I say “up to” because the proposal gives the State Department and USAID the option to obligate some funds to Ukraine.
As the UN defines it: a policy intended to “remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”