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Biden's Gaza pier disaster comes to a painful end

As Joe Biden’s campaign collapses with all the force of a Red Giant star, there may not be much of a market out there for imploding-campaign metaphors. But for those of you whose demand for analogies along those lines is nigh insatiable, here’s hoping you didn’t miss the final days of the president’s ill-conceived Gaza pier.

Last Friday, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh revealed that Biden’s brainchild — a temporary dock extending from the Gaza coast into the Mediterranean, from which humanitarian assistance could be dispersed to local Palestinians — was defunct. “As we always said with the pier, it is meant to be temporary,” she said. “When the commander decides that it’s the right time to re-install that pier, we’ll keep you updated on that.”

Singh added that the pier was never going to be a “long-term solution or solve for land routes,” which is “the most effective way” into the Strip. But that was the point of the pier as a political argument. It was designed to embarrass the Israelis for failing to distribute humanitarian aid (716,000 tons and counting) to the Strip to the administration’s satisfaction. The Israelis did not publicly object to the slight, in part because it would further imperil Jerusalem’s relationship with the Biden White House and because it would make little sense to object to the administration’s offer to relieve the humanitarian burdens on the IDF. But the lack of a defined and achievable mission ensured that the pier would have to remain in operation indefinitely — at least, until the close of combat operations in the Strip.

The Biden White House surely didn’t intend for the pier to remain in service forever, but nor could they have possibly set out to engineer an embarrassment for themselves.

The idea for the pier emerged as an applause line in Biden’s 2024 State of the Union address, but it was all downhill from there. It began its life as a logistical nightmare — and a costly one at that, with a $230 million price tag for its construction. This duplicative headache (again, aid was already flowing into Gaza via Israel and Egypt when it was completed) didn’t become fully operational until mid May, at which point it promptly came under fire from Palestinian militant groups. It functioned for all of four weeks before the high winds, tides, and swells of three feet or more that were known to be this prefabricated dock’s kryptonite — weather patterns that tend to typify conditions in the ocean — scuttled the pier.

By June, the thing had to be dismantled and tugged off to the Israeli port of Ashdod for repairs. The pier reentered service only two weeks ago, but it is offline again, and it may never return to operation. The good news is that much of the aid delivered via the pier remains undispersed in a lot that Singh told reporters was “pretty close to full,” which at least indicates that the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza is not as dire as anti-Israel activists and their allies in media let on.

As parables for this administration’s approach to policy-making go, it’s hard to find a better one. Biden needed the pier to resolve a domestic political conundrum, but it failed to satisfy the restive anti-Israel Left. He needed it to demonstrate America’s capacity to project not just power but altruism, but it only exposed the limits of U.S. engineering. In the end, the pier’s fatal infirmities compelled its caretakers to shuttle it off the public stage despite the embarrassment to all involved.

Indeed, as a literary device illustrating the terminal hubris to which the Biden administration has succumbed, the pier is pretty heavy-handed. But sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction.

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