Not a Penny Nor a Bullet Off the Table

The U.S. vice president, secretary of state and defense secretary are using unusually blunt language against Israel’s massacres of Palestinians. But the money and weapons keep flowing, says Joe Lauria.

Kamela Harris at Dubai climate conference on Saturday. (Photo by COP28 / Christopher Pike)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

In the midst of an Old Testament-style genocide against the Palestinian people, there is a paraphrased line from the Book of Daniel that has come into full view for the Biden administration: “The writing is on the wall.” 

Everywhere in the U.S. that prominent administration officials go, they are hearing it from a public increasingly alarmed about their complicity in genocide. It is not criticism they can easily ignore.   

For one thing, if they have a shred of conscience left they cannot avoid seeing that Israel’s military campaign is “deliberately inflicting on the group [Gazans] conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the supreme crime.  

But even if their hearts are stones, political warnings are scratched on the wall in a fast-approaching presidential election in which increasing numbers of Democrats are affixing “genocide” to Biden’s first name. 

Thus Biden, though not Biden himself, was spurred in the past few days to dispatch his top deputies to deliver the sternest message to Israel.

At the climate summit in Dubai on Saturday, Vice President Kamela Harris told a press conference: “The United States is unequivocal: International humanitarian law must be respected. Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.” 

On the same day Harris spoke, in what appears to have been coordinated by the White House, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, CA, that, “I have repeatedly made clear to Israel’s leaders that protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza is both a moral responsibility and strategic imperative.” 

“In this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population,” Austin said. “And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.”   Even then, Austin couched his remarks in military and not moral terms. Still the message was clear to Israel: Stop killing so many civilians. 

Blinken’s Tough Talk 

Harris’s and Austin’s remarks followed by two days comments by Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his third jaunt to Jerusalem since Oct. 7. 

After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken told the press:

“We discussed the details of Israel’s ongoing planning and I underscored the imperative for the United States that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale that we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the South. …

As I told the prime minister, intent matters, but so does the result. … Israel has one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world. It is capable of neutralising the threat posed by Hamas, while minimising harm to innocent men, women and children. …

That means taking more effective steps to protect the lives of civilians, including by clearly and precisely designating areas and places in southern and central Gaza, where they can be safe and out of the line of fire.” 

Israel responded with some maps supposedly outlining safe areas for civilians to go to. But the bombing in the south of Gaza, where 1.8 million Gazans are displaced from the north, has been among the most intense in two months of Israeli attacks. 

Hundreds more civilians have been slaughtered since Blinken’s remarks. In other words, Israel ignored him. As long as it’s only talk, Israel can afford to. 

An unconfirmed report from Israel’s Channel 12 following Blinken’s meeting with Netanyahu said the secretary of state supposedly “linked American military support to certain conditions, including proof that the I.D.F. plans to take into consideration the civilian population in Gaza, reduce civilian evacuations from their homes to a minimum, and provide more safe areas for non-combatants.” 


On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Biden ally,  said according to the AP: “’The truth is that if asking nicely worked, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today,’ Sanders said in a floor speech. It was time for the United States to use its ‘substantial leverage’ with its ally, the Vermont senator said. ‘And we all know what that leverage is,’ he said, adding, ‘the blank-check approach must end.’”

Until such leverage is used — and Washington has let two months go by with more than 16,000 dead, 7,000 missing and 40,000 injured —  these are mere words. 

Such talk from these Biden officials and allies will not fool many people, except for fools, and will not scare Netanyahu. 

So far not one bullet, nor one penny has been withheld from Netanyahu’s vicious regime. 

This is Biden’s quandry:  continue to support Israel’s genocide and see his poll numbers continue to plummet. The dilemma he must answer is: what would damage him more, sticking with Israel through its murderous campaign or risk the Israel Lobby’s consummate skill at destroying American politicians?  

On Nov. 5, 2024, American voters will weigh Biden in the balance and, as Daniel told King Belshazzar, he may be found wanting. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe

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32 comments for “Not a Penny Nor a Bullet Off the Table

  1. LeoSun
    December 8, 2023 at 09:48

    Hot off the Presses!!!

    ……”The facts are, BIDEN is not getting any younger. He’s not gonna get any more popular and he’s not getting a new running mate. Soooo, please, Mr. President, GIVE America the ULTIMATE Christmas gift; and, STEP ASIDE!!!”

    “This is Biden’s ego talking. If you think there are other people who can beat him, step aside. I know you think you’ve got this in the bag. I know he thinks he’s got this in the bag; BUT, the polls say otherwise!!! “Charlamagne tha God”

    Buh-bye, Biden-Harris!!! The “Universe” seconds that emotion, “Shut the Front Door” on Biden-Harris 2024.” TY.

    Keep It Lit!

  2. LeoSun
    December 7, 2023 at 13:44

    “People are being bombed in hospitals, in schools. But all they do is condemn. Our blood is cheap.” Tala Herzallah-Student In Gaza

    Cui bono?!? America!!! Says America’s Deep $tate, “Wars $erve U.S., Intere$ts.” IMO, the world is the Eagle’s oyster, to invade, occupy, control. Evading ownership, of the deception, destruction, death executed by their bloody, grubby, dirty claws, is part of it!

    ……”A positive critic is better than a hypocrite.”

    IMO, Poke’n the Russian Bear, piss’n on China’s Dragon, fattening up GAZA, for the kill; the Eagle, straight-up, M.I.A., @ COP28 Climate Summit, denies, lies, hides.

    “The Heart is the Marketplace;” and, the moments, the Eagle goes public, EVERYBODY, cringes!!! NOBODY is buying what the Eagle w/glazed over, infected eyeballs, w/his pants on fire, is $elling!!! IMO, POTUS is red-hot ridiculous. Torching. tanking, tearing it up! Using, abusing, eventually abandoning everything he destroys!!!

    Forensics prove, the Eagle’s bloody claw prints are all over the organized crime, in Syria, Ukraine, Israel, Africa, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, & the Divided $tates of Corporate America fka the USA.

    EVERYBODY, knows “a calabash w/holes cannot be filled,” i.e., “Joey R. Biden, as a leading $enate voice on foreign policy, as V.P., ta$ked by OhBama w/running Ukraine policy; &, NOW, as the Deep $tate’s #1 Political Corpse, poses as POTUS, masquerades as human. IMO, EVERYBODY, knows, POTUS, his Deep $tate, his Congress & the CDC’s, Center of Democrat Control, DNC, are deeply implicated in the deception, destruction & deaths of thousands, i.e., Corona virus, WARS, famine, poverty, disease. Consequently, the bodies keep piling up, hearts & bones, ground into the rubble. Hence, the narrative, the Deep $tate hates, “ Lieden, Biden, You can’t hide. We charge you w/genocide.”

    Concluding, POTUS’ Handlers GOT a LID on THEM!!!. Keeping POTIUS Outta Sight. Public Speaking is NOT they’re thing! POTUS is NOT a good optic! Concluding, “They cannot remain in power!!!” Best practice, “Shut the Front Door” on Biden-Harris 2024. Ciao.

  3. Frank Lambert
    December 7, 2023 at 09:22

    In the large anti-war marches in San Francisco (which proved meaningless, as the Imperialist government of the Bush Jr./Cheney regime invaded Afghanistan and Iraq anyway) we walked in, there were many creative protest signs the people carried.
    My favorite one is:

    “Kill one person, it’s murder. Kill thousands, and it’s foreign policy.”

    Biden’s poll numbers are decreasing and for those who think carrot top is the right choice in next year’s presidential election are only deceiving themselves as he’ll also do the bidding of the people who control most of the money and much of main stream big corporate media conglomerates and entertainment venues.

    When President Johnson covered up the intentional Israeli bombing of the USS Liberty during the 1967 “Six Day War,” it’s not rocket science in understanding on who controls the narrative on the Middle East.

  4. Eddie S
    December 7, 2023 at 00:19

    I can’t help but think that when US & Israeli officials meet in high-level private talks that it’s to write & rehearse their individual lines for the resultant screen play/press conference. (OK, I’ll say ‘Israel must respect the lives of innocent civilians!’, and then you say ‘We take all necessary precautions to avoid harming civilians, but unfortunately occasionally there are accidents’, and then we’ll change the subject)

  5. Deniz
    December 6, 2023 at 18:44

    What’s more damaging is the NYT article stating that the IDF had a detailed report and knew that Hamas was planning an attack a year ago. None other than John Brennan was recently interviewed asking serious questions on why IDF did not respond to the information. This indicates that the Obama faction and various high level intelligence community officials have made a decisive split with Israel. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  6. bardamu
    December 6, 2023 at 18:07

    Words go off and say things that no one intends.

    The Israeli government does not wish to reduce its killing of civilians. It is trying to remove an opposing population from territory it would occupy. This is an old-time genocidal invasion, like the Western Expansion of the United States.

    This is not coterminous with the interests or desires of Israeli citizens, let alone “the Jewish people” or Jewish religion, but you can see that it is Israeli policy because it is consistent with Israeli government actions.

    The US government does not wish to curtail Israeli killing, including the killing of civilians. It is trying to destroy self-determination in Western Asia, where self-interest drives populations to make commercial and political deals not coterminous with American empire. Again, US policy is neither in the interests nor according to the intentions of most Americans, so it is not consistent with the statements of American politicians. You can tell that it is policy because it is consistent with governmental actions.

    You do not lie to the beasts because there is no slaughterhouse. You do not have a separate public point of view because your private point of view is acceptable to the public. US government language against Israeli killing becomes sharper because that killing creates political risks, not because the US government objects. It continues to fund that killing, thereby granting it more than full approval.

    There remains an old whitehead named Joe;
    Though his head has gone sputtery and slow,
    He’s still up for the diddle
    That he promised to fiddle
    To assure that the blood will still flow.

  7. Karin Haslam
    December 6, 2023 at 16:39

    Reminds me of this political cartoon I saw some years ago. It showed Barack Obama writing a letter as follows: Dear Benjamin, stop bombing Gaza. Yours, Barack. He then tossed the letter into a box containing a shipment of bombs.
    Nothing has changed.

  8. December 6, 2023 at 16:18

    IF U.S. leaders were to be consistent with their Israel policy, they would give every murderous school shooter a stern lecture to “be nice,” and a full pardon along with a supply of automatic fire arms.

    • Altruist
      December 7, 2023 at 03:44

      or they would bomb the school and kill the children and teachers inside in order to eliminate the school shooter.

  9. Lois Gagnon
    December 6, 2023 at 15:41

    The heat has only begun to be turned up against Biden and his gang of idiots. We need to make it white hot and fast and keep it there until all funding for Israel is cut off indefinitely. Nothing else will bear satisfactory results.

    • Jim Glover
      December 6, 2023 at 23:21


  10. Ralphy
    December 6, 2023 at 15:15

    When does a nation lose its right to exist?

    After World War II, Germany lost its right to exist, and was divided into zones, one of which became “East Germany”. Germany as a nation only reappeared on maps during the 1990’s.

    Is it only the commission of Genocide that can be cause for a nation to lose its right to exist? Or, can the open support, supplying, funding of Genocide also be grounds for a nation to lose its right to exist? Does mouthing BS about opposing Genocide while fueling Genocide maintain your right to exist? Or does that just insult the decent people of the world even more?

    • Onlooker
      December 7, 2023 at 12:17

      No nation as a “right to exist” under international law!

      Not Yugoslavia, or Sudan, or Czechoslovakia — or Spain, or France, or the United Kingdom, or the USA, either.

      They only have the right not to be attacked by foreign powers.

  11. BettyK
    December 6, 2023 at 15:14

    The only words Bebe will understand are “withholding $14 billion” and “sanctions”.

  12. Ralphy
    December 6, 2023 at 15:06

    With Democrats, words are to be completely disregarded, and only actions should be considered.
    — sending arms and ammo by the planefull to fuel the Genocide.
    — sending carrier groups and air squadrons to directly threaten any who might intervene to stop the Genocide.
    — openly engaging in combat to protect the Genocide from others who might act to prevent the Genocide.
    — vetoing cease-fire resolutions, in firm denunciation of the world and the General Assembly.

    Anyone who believes a single word coming out of a Democrat’s mouth has been sleeping for the last three decades.
    (D) is for War
    (D) is for Genocide
    (D) is Evil.

  13. Geoff Burns
    December 6, 2023 at 12:52

    From Moon of Alabama:

    Israel’s dependence on the United States was stated bluntly by retired IDF Maj. General Yitzhak Brick in an interview earlier this week.

    “All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the airplanes and bombs, it’s all from the U.S. The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability. … Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”

  14. Realist
    December 6, 2023 at 12:41

    The Biden government in Washington basically insisted that the 14,000 ethnic Russian “collateral” dead, killed by official Ukrainian government terrorism, was not a justified provocation for Putin to cross the border in their defense and called for the full vengeance of Nato to be brought down upon the Russian state. Yet this same “Biden” (both the man and the policy) dilly dallies in condemning Israel for treating the Palestinians much worse than the rebels of Donbass ever tasted. Exactly how many different standards does Washington actually have on anything?

    • Ralphy
      December 6, 2023 at 15:28

      The Rules Based Order:

      Rule 1… the Rich Make the Rules
      Rule 2… the Rich get Richer.
      Rule 3… the Rich can change the Rules at any time to suit Rules #1 and #2.

      What, you think there is some sort of logic or fairness to this system? The Rules are very simple.

      ” It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. And by the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. ” — George Carlin

      “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” – George Orwell, 1984

  15. December 6, 2023 at 12:25

    “This is Biden’s quandry: continue to support Israel’s genocide and see his poll numbers continue to plummet. The dilemma he must answer is: what would damage him more, sticking with Israel through its murderous campaign or risk the Israel Lobby’s consummate skill at destroying American politicians?”

    I doubt that it matters as he is probably screwed either way.

    • Ralphy
      December 6, 2023 at 15:39

      He could indict the person who’s likely to beat him in the election.

      In the American Sphere of Influence, the use of Lawfare to bar popular candidates from participating in an election is becoming a common technique to make sure ‘the right person’ wins. Brazil and Peru come to mind. Right up the alley for the guy who wrote the Biden Crime Bill and thus helped to create the world’s largest prison system.

  16. Realist
    December 6, 2023 at 12:14

    When the government does so, I think that tactic you describe is referred to as “Double Think” in the handbook, Joe. When the citizen indulges in the practice it is known as “Thought Crime.”

    Always remember that “ignorance is strength, war is peace and freedom is slavery.” The force for Evil is strong in the Big Guy, young Padawan.

  17. Desmond M Kahn
    December 6, 2023 at 11:51

    It is literally sickening to see Jake Sullivan and Antony Blinken spouting these “rules” that Israel must follow to avoid genocidal behavior, and to see Nick Schivrin on PBS give them softball questions on the Newshour, when everyone concerned knows it is all hogwash because Israel will ignore it all.

    • Tim N
      December 6, 2023 at 16:16

      In thier minds this makes everything okay–the Genocide, the mass–murder, the colonial mayhem.

  18. Burt
    December 6, 2023 at 11:27

    Public voice/private voice.

  19. Gordon Hastie
    December 6, 2023 at 11:12

    israel will simply carry on giving its great ally, never mind the UN, the finger, just as it has since 1948.

  20. Steve
    December 6, 2023 at 11:08

    The US government has shown itself to be duplicitous and rotten to its very core, along with the UK.
    The actions and words of the Israeli government have proven that the intention is to drive the entire population of Gaza into Egypt, or kill them, in order to steal even more land, and the hydrocarbons from the Gazan coast.
    The depravity and greed on open display is disgusting, and all who support and enable genocide should be hanged as the murderers and thieves that they surely are.

  21. Jim Thomas
    December 6, 2023 at 10:45

    This is just the standard duplicity and hypocrisy of U.S. policy. The U.S. has never dealt with the Palestinians in good faith. Nor has it ever supported in policy and deeds the two state solution or any other solution which offered a fair and just outcome for the Palestinians. The U.S. is primarily responsible for the ongoing genocide because it would not be possible for Israel to implement the genocide without U.S. financial, military and political support. I am, once again, disgusted by, and ashamed of, what the U.S. is doing with its cruel, arrogant and foolish foreign policies.

    • December 8, 2023 at 11:21

      We need to recognize what Biden has done. Ukraine wasn’t enough. He has launched yet another U.S. proxy war in the Mideast against Palestinians.

  22. Paul Citro
    December 6, 2023 at 09:27

    Its a public relations operation to mollify widespread discontent with administration policy. The bombing, death, and carnage will continue unabated.

    • Robert
      December 6, 2023 at 11:54

      It’s easy for the Biden Administration to act in this clearly duplicitous manner as long as the Administration continues to have nearly 100% approval from the national news media. And there is no indication that is going to decrease anytime soon. The best chance to reverse the ongoing tragedies in Gaza and Ukraine is at the ballot box, but unfortunately that means 11 more months of slaughter.

      It’s shocking to me that the most powerful government in the world is run by people like Biden, Blinken, and Sullivan. Their personalities and instincts are suited for one city: Washington D.C. Take the 3 of them out of D.C. and they would become a shell of what they are now.

      • CanItBeMagic
        December 7, 2023 at 08:07

        “It’s shocking to me that the most powerful government in the world ”

        It is not, hence why the resonances of General Plan Ost of previously hoped to be “settler colonialists” including preparation for blaming “the other” on failure which is also not shocking.

  23. Susan Leslie
    December 6, 2023 at 07:35

    Such duplicitous words and actions by our government should not be tolerated by the American people – all of this makes me sick with shame and abhorrence!

Comments are closed.