Because it’s true.
And the full quote is even more revealing. He said that Israel “is the best $3 billion investment we make.” He went on:
Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region. The United States would have to go out and invent an Israel.
Biden first said this in 1986. Back then, he was just a senator persuading other senators to grant Israel $3 billion in military aid that year.
So what are these U.S. “interests in the region” that Biden speaks of?
Imperialism: A System, Not a Set of Policies
To understand that, we have to understand some very basic things about America. The economic foundation of this country is capitalism-imperialism. Bob Avakian has said that:
Imperialism means huge monopolies and financial institutions controlling the economies and the political systems—and the lives of people—not just in one country but all over the world. Imperialism means parasitic exploiters who oppress hundreds of millions of people and condemn them to untold misery; parasitic financiers who can cause millions to starve just by pressing a computer key and thereby shifting vast amounts of wealth from one place to another. Imperialism means war—war to put down the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed, and war between rival imperialist states—it means the leaders of these states can condemn humanity to unbelievable devastation, perhaps even total annihilation, with the push of a button. (from BAsics 1:6)
What does that have to do with those “interests” Biden was talking about?
Start with oil. Israel sits in the Middle East, the region which produced one-third of the world’s oil in 2022. Oil is foundational to the profitable functioning of the modern world imperialist economy, and control over oil gives an imperialist power leverage to dictate terms to rivals. Oil is also strategically critical to modern imperialist military machines. But it is not solely a question of controlling oil for economic or military reasons—it is even more a matter of maintaining control over a strategic resource crucial to the world economy, and denying that control to other, rival powers.
Then there are imperialist geopolitical and geo-economic considerations. The Middle East sits at the crossroads of the world, where Africa, Asia and Europe meet. Through that crossroads passes most of the world’s oil. Even as it is today challenged by rival imperialists, like China, the U.S. right now maintains the upper hand over what is still the world’s most strategic resource and the routes through which that resource is traded.
Maintaining its grip in this area—one that is 7,500 miles away from the U.S.—is vital enough to the U.S. empire that former President Jimmy Carter threatened to repel with military force any other power that the U.S. perceived as threatening to “gain control of the region.” (Of course, Carter didn’t say the quiet part out loud—that the U.S. already DID have hegemony, or overall control, over the region!) In case the main U.S. rival at the time—the former Soviet Union, much of what is today’s Russia—didn’t get the message, Carter literally added “by any means necessary.” Yes, Jimmy Carter—the Democratic ex-president who is now almost treated as a saint because he lends his name to a charity for the homeless—threatened nuclear war against a U.S. rival over control of the region.
The Urge for Liberation… and the Need for the Imperialists to Suppress It
The Middle East also contains 450 million people—people who in the main have been kept in poverty while their lands have been plundered by imperialism, and who have been tightly controlled by extremely repressive powers propped up by the U.S. Now, it’s hard for the U.S. to exercise control over 450 million people, especially when America sits half a world away. People resist their oppression, they seek to understand it, they form movements to fight and change it—some progressive, some nationalist, and some outright reactionary, like the Islamic fundamentalist jihadists. But almost all of these pose problems for the U.S., which they deal with by outright suppression or manipulation.
To deal with this, America has 30 military bases and 54,000 troops in this region. That’s not all. The U.S. pours huge amounts of military aid into Egypt,1 Iraq, Saudi Arabia,2 Kuwait, and other repressive client regimes to enable them to repress almost any dissent and resistance.
Israel: Essential to U.S. Control
Yet none of this is as essential to maintaining America’s relentless economic exploitation and brutal political domination over this key strategic region as the state of Israel. Israel has a massive military machine, including a substantial nuclear weapons arsenal.3 Year in and year out, the U.S. gives by far the most military aid to Israel. Israel has served the U.S. both as a reliable and militarily powerful ally against any other power aspiring to empire and as a force for repression of movements within the countries of the Middle East that for whatever reason run counter to U.S. domination.
Israel’s service to the U.S. has included four wars against regimes in the area that were either nationalist regimes or regimes were coming under the influence of U.S. rivals, as well as countless instances of armed aggression short of war; suppression of revolutionary struggles; and even acting as a U.S. “asset” in aiding repressive pro-U.S. regimes in Argentina, Guatemala, apartheid South Africa, Iran under the Shah, and other extremely repressive regimes, including providing them with extensive training in surveillance and interrogation techniques, including gruesome torture. For the past decade and more Israel and the U.S. have collaborated to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability through a campaign of assassinations, sabotage, brutal economic warfare (“sanctions”), and other measures (even as there have at times been tactical differences between the two). The point is not that Iran should have such devices—no government should have nuclear weapons!—the point is that the U.S. and Israel are intent on maintaining Israel’s monopoly of such barbaric weapons in the Middle East.
It is Israel’s special role in maintaining America’s brutal domination and plunder that forms the truth behind Joe Biden’s statement. That is why no matter who is president—whether Republican, Democrat, so-called “socialist” like Bernie Sanders, or anyone else—they too would be forced to defend and support Israel because this system depends on Israel as an essential part of its domination of the oppressed and its contention with its rivals. And if somehow someone in some way found themselves in the position of president who didn’t understand that, they would either be “made” to understand it, or they would not last very long.
Nothing short of overturning the system behind this can deal with the root causes. And until those root causes are dealt with, outrages and horrors like Gaza will continue to erupt. While it is critically important to stand with the Palestinian people and fight to end this particular genocidal war, this must be linked to spreading the goal of and concretely organizing for revolution—if we ever want to really end these intolerable outrages. And that revolution could come soon.
This leads to the second half of the quote from Bob Avakian cited above:
Imperialism is capitalism at the stage where its basic contradictions have been raised to tremendously explosive levels. But imperialism also means that there will be revolution—the oppressed rising up to overthrow their exploiters and tormentors—and that this revolution will be a worldwide struggle to sweep away the global monster, imperialism. (from BAsics 1:6)
While we cannot in this article analyze the outbreak, causes and possible consequences of Israel's genocidal war against the Palestinian people in the occupied Gaza strip (see Bob Avakian's article "Some Basic Truths About the U.S.-Supported Israeli War Against Palestine"), we do want to stress that the stakes in it are high, and NOT just for Palestinians or people in the region generally. As U.S. imperialism's key ally Israel is enmeshed in war, other powers (the imperialist powers Russia and China, along with regional powers like Iran) are maneuvering furiously. These forces are challenging the U.S. militarily and, especially in the case of China, economically and diplomatically. And this comes at a time in which the two factions within the U.S. rulers—the outright fascist Republicans and those like Biden who think that it is vital to U.S. imperial interests to maintain a “democratic veneer”—are locked in increasingly antagonistic conflict over how to rule “at home” and how to carry forward their domination worldwide. The fact that both factions of the rulers within the U.S. are strongly wed to supporting Israel will not heal the divide between them—a divide that makes revolution in this period more possible. (For more on this split within the ruling class, and the society as a whole, and why it makes revolution more possible, see Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution, by Bob Avakian, and REVOLUTION: BUILDING UP THE BASIS TO GO FOR THE WHOLE THING, WITH A REAL CHANCE TO WIN: STRATEGIC ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL APPROACH.)
The revolution humanity so urgently needs would put an end to imperialist plunder of the world—it would not require such plunder, but would actively work to overcome its legacy. This revolution would support revolution and genuine liberation around the world, not suppress it and drown it in blood. As is said in WE NEED AND WE DEMAND: A WHOLE NEW WAY TO LIVE, A FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT SYSTEM:
The new socialist government will not develop or use nuclear weapons and will take concrete steps and wage determined struggle to abolish nuclear weapons everywhere, with the ultimate goal of finally abolishing wars among human beings, with the abolition of the capitalist-imperialist system, and all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression, which are the basis for wars.
There is a strategic plan to make this revolution; there is strategic leadership FOR this revolution in Bob Avakian and the revcoms he leads; and there is a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for the new revolutionary power and society in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian. Finally, there is an actual strategic guide on how such a revolution could be made—yes, in this period: REVOLUTION: BUILDING UP THE BASIS TO GO FOR THE WHOLE THING, WITH A REAL CHANCE TO WIN: STRATEGIC ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL APPROACH.
What is needed is you.