A Leading Think Tank for the Democratic Establishment Calls for a Ceasefire “Now” – Mother Jones
The Center for American Progress has now said the word that the Biden administration and most Democrats in Congress have been most unwilling to utter since Israel began to bomb Gaza: ceasefire.
In a significant development, CAP—perhaps the most influential think tank within the Democratic establishment—published an article on Friday asking the Biden administration and Congress to “urge an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” The article is written by President Patrick Gaspard and Senior Director for National Security and International Policy Allison McManus. (Gaspard later said on Twitter: “We need a ceasefire. Now.”) The post lays out five actions that the administration and Congress should prioritize immediately.
The call for a ceasefire goes against the administration’s current policy. When asked about the chances for a ceasefire last week, Biden replied, “None, no possibility.” CAP favors a ceasefire over the short-term pauses advocated by the Biden administration:
With Gaza’s health care system already on the brink of collapse, the current humanitarian catastrophe will worsen exponentially if the conflict continues at the intensity seen over the past few weeks. Congress and the administration must work swiftly to negotiate a humanitarian ceasefire, using all available leverage to ensure that both Israel and—through coordination with Qatar and other regional partners—Hamas comply. Rather than the current short pauses, a negotiated ceasefire would allow for developing a clearer long-term strategy to combat Hamas, help facilitate the safe return of hostages, and alleviate the humanitarian situation.
Since the brutal attack by Hamas on October 7 that claimed the lives of roughly 1,200 people, Israel has conducted a war on Hamas in Gaza. More than 11,000 people, including more than 4,600 children, have been killed during the assault, according to the local health ministry. At different points, Israel has either completely, or severely, restricted access to food, water, fuel, and electricity. The United Nations estimates that 1.4 million people in Gaza—more than half the population—are now internally displaced.
Gaspard and McManus state that Israel’s “collective punishment has brutalized thousands of innocent civilians and only jeopardized prospects for lasting peace.” Under international law, collective punishment is clearly defined as a war crime. The article accuses both Hamas and Israel of “serious human rights violations.”
During Barack Obama’s presidency, Gaspard served as the executive director of the Democratic National Committee and the United States Ambassador to South Africa. Prior to CAP, he was the president of the Open Society Foundations founded by George Soros.
CAP has sometimes split with the administration in the past. But Gaspard has been unusually vocal about the war considering his current position. Earlier this month, Gaspard criticized Hillary Clinton for her certitude in rejecting calls for a ceasefire.
I’m struck by the absolute certitude and hearing yet again there’s an expertise that some have about making war and that those protesting lack. I remember protesting my Govt voting to give war authorization in Iraq. We were told that we just didn’t understand. With this certitude https://t.co/eRewDFkb7t
— Patrick Gaspard (@patrickgaspard) November 5, 2023
In late October, Gaspard wrote on social media that people “keep telling me that the situation in Gaza is ‘complicated.’” He continued: “There’s nothing complicated about being able to say killing innocent people is wrong and needs to stop. We said it when it was Hamas. We can say it now that it’s Israel. This is wrong. This needs to stop.”
After publishing the article on Friday, Gaspard stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire. In yet another break with the Biden administration, he said that a ceasefire should be a precondition for providing additional aid to Israel.
I haven’t been unclear about what we’re seeing and what I’ve consistently called for. At all. We need a ceasefire. Now. I’m also clear on the fact that there’s going to be a congressional debate on this and so I’m pressing for conditions – including ceasefire on any aid.
— Patrick Gaspard (@patrickgaspard) November 17, 2023
CAP’s published paper goes beyond a ceasefire, as well. The authors’ second priority is supporting Israel’s defense needs. Their plan for doing so differs from what has been put forward by the Biden administration. Gaspard and McManus specifically reject sending offensive weapons “likely to be used unlawfully” such as 155mm artillery shells. The administration has not moved to limit military aid to the more defensive weapons favored by CAP. Instead, the administration has proposed sending Israel $14 billion of mostly military assistance—with no strings attached.
A third plank is providing humanitarian assistance to people in Gaza. Gaspard and McManus make clear that the Biden administration has pushed for humanitarian assistance but add that the current levels of assistance “are but a drop in the bucket as the conflict rages on.” The other priorities are ensuring that US aid is provided in compliance with policies that promote human rights, and pushing for a political solution to the conflict.