Thursday, May 23, 2024

It’s been three years since President Biden elected Lloyd J. Austin III as the quiet man at the Pentagon, but after stepping off a plane in Tel Aviv, he became the talk of the town. Throughout his visit, Secretary Austin emphasized the U.S. administration’s support for Israel, while also expressing concern over the increasing number of Palestinian casualties. He warned Israeli officials of the potential “strategic defeat” Israel could face if it did not do more to protect civilians. As a retired general with a wealth of combat experience, including involvement in urban warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, Austin is well positioned to deliver this message.

Amidst criticism from Republicans and others, Austin has continued to advocate for Israel’s protection of Palestinian civilians, urging them to adopt more precision targeting strategies and expressing concern over the number of civilian casualties. Austin has even leveraged the success and failures of the U.S. military’s operations to provide strategic advice to Israeli leaders. His calls for targeted precision air campaigns and efforts to recover hostages taken by terrorists illustrate this approach.

As the crisis in Gaza persists, Mr. Austin’s meetings in Tel Aviv are expected to focus on his recommendations for Israel’s transition to a new phase in the conflict. His involvement and direct approach show that, despite keeping a low-key profile, he is now assuming a more prominent role.

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