Donald Trump Puts Forward a Reasonable Restrained Response to the Israel-Gaza Crisis

As a response to Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attack on Israel in October 7, 2023, Republican Party presidential hopefuls published statements concerning this incident. Former President Donald Trump’s statements stood out for its relatively restrained approach to this conflict. 

While criticizing Hamas, Trump did not openly call for using American resources to help the Israeli government in this conflict. This stood in stark contrast to his GOP rivals who have not only called for increasing military aid to Israel but are using this geopolitical flare up to justify an attack against Iran — Israel’s biggest geopolitical rival.  

Trump’s October 7 statement read as follows:

These Hamas attacks are a disgrace and Israel has every right to defend itself with overwhelming force. Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden Administration. We brought so much peace to the Middle East through the Abraham Accords, only to see Biden whittle it away at a far more rapid pace than anyone thought possible. Here we go again.

By contrast, other Republican presidential candidates were much more enthusiastic about their support for Israel. 

Tara Suter of The Hill highlighted some of these Republicans’ stances:

Doug Burgum: “Iran and its terror sponsors in Gaza are showing the world their true face: pure evil. Israel is at war with brutal terrorists and the United States must provide maximum support to our democratic ally.”

Chris Christie: “We must do whatever it takes to support the State of Israel in its time of grave danger, and we must end the scourge of Iran-backed terrorism.”

Ron DeSantis: “Israel not only has the right to defend itself against these attacks, it has a duty to respond with overwhelming force. I stand with Israel. America must stand with Israel.”

Nikki Haley: “Israel has every right to defend its citizens from terror. We must always stand with Israel and against this Iranian regime.”

Mike Pence: “Our prayers are with the families and soldiers of our most cherished ally. @netanyahu [Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)] says Israel is ‘at war’ America Stands With Israel[.]”

Vivek Ramaswamy: “Israel’s right to exist & defend itself should never be doubted and Iran-backed Hamas & Hezbollah cannot be allowed to prevail. I stand with Israel and the U.S. should too.”

Tim Scott: “Israel has a right to defend itself and the United States must stand in support of its steadfast ally.”

It remains to be seen if Trump will maintain a relatively restrained stance on the latest Gaza crisis. A true America First candidate would do everything possible to distance itself from this conflict which has no pressing American interest at stake. Moreover, the Middle East is a perpetually volatile region. Any type of US involvement here could potentially lead to nasty forms of blowback and other unintended consequences. 

At the end of the day, the best response for the US here is just to stay out.

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