". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


President Biden’s Pierless Nautical Misadventure

June 3, 2024

Hang those stars and stripes upside down, because America’s floating pier operation is in great distress. The U.S. military removed the temporary dock to the Israeli city of Ashdod because it was “damaged, and sections of the pier need rebuilding and repairing,” Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh stated last Tuesday. Those repairs are expected to last for over a week.

The U.S. military reportedly spent $320 million on the project over the course of several months, but it survived less than two weeks. Aid deliveries were discontinued after a convoy of trucks en route to a U.N. humanitarian warehouse was picked clean by Palestinian looters on the second day of operations. Heavy seas also injured three U.S. servicemembers and beached four small U.S. military vessels, from which the crews had to be evacuated.

“We probably should have just taken those $320 million and thrown them into the sea,” suggested longtime Army veteran and Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) on “Washington Watch.”

“The military knows that, along the Gaza Coast, there are Sea Stages Three and Four — which is the height of the waves,” Self explained. For my fellow landlubbers, Sea Stage Three means a “gentle breeze” of 7-10 knots (8-11 mph) and a maximum wave height of three feet; Sea Stage Four means a “moderate breeze” of 11-16 knots (12-18 mph) and a maximum wave height of five feet.

“That pier is not designed to be built to withstand Stage Three, much less Stage Four,” Self continued. So, the military “knew that the pier would probably not withstand the sea stages” on the Gazan Coast. In fact, “the military actually told the decision makers this,” but it “was obviously built on orders” that overruled the military’s advice, he said.

In other words, the U.S. military tried to install a floating pier with the seaworthiness of an inflatable ducky on an unfriendly coastline. If this beach were anywhere else, sensible beachgoers would build sandcastles and keep small children away from the water (of course, in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, sensible beachgoers wear bulletproof vests and keep small children at home).

The Biden administration has tried to spin the disaster as just an extraordinary string of bad luck. “We just had sort of an unfortunate confluence of weather storms that made it inoperable for a bit,” Singh insisted. “Hopefully, [in] just a little over a week, we should be back up and running.”

But it doesn’t take a storm to damage this pier (Gaza’s last rainfall was May 6). Even a “moderate breeze” of 12-18 mph could forcibly disassemble this fragile floating futon. Winds in Gaza average 12-14 mph year-round. Given an unusual spell of calm seas, the U.S. military might get the pier “up and running” again — up and running, that is, until the Gazan coastline reverts to its usual “moderate breeze” and heavy surf. This inherent fragility seems to be one reason why floating piers aren’t popping up all over the place.

Given these facts, why did the U.S. military construct the now-hapless floating pier on the Gazan coast? The most fundamental reason seems to be that President Joe Biden said so. Much to everyone’s surprise, President Biden announced it in his State of the Union address in early March.

The announcement came as the Biden administration was floundering for a way to appease the anti-Semitic fringe of his political base. It apparently served as another item in a pressure campaign against Israel — a finger in their eye that declared, “If you won’t feed starving Gazans, America will!” (Of course, Israeli border crossings have proven far more effective at filtering humanitarian aid into Gaza than America’s peerless, and now also pier-less, debacle on the coast.)

At the same time, Biden also ruled out the possibility of constructing a permanent aid-delivery pier on the Gaza coastline when he reiterated his promise that “no U.S. boots will be on the ground” in Gaza. This also was a political declaration, rather than a practical one. A permanent pier would have been far sturdier and more effective for delivering aid. It would also have been much cheaper; in 2020, St. Petersburg, Fla. completed a 26-acre commercial pier district that included “new seawalls and underground utility infrastructure” for only $93 million. But, to avoid headlines reading, “U.S. boots on the ground in Gaza,” Biden launched the maiden voyage of a $320 million failure.

“That pier should never have been built,” Self declared. But it wasn’t up to the U.S. military to decide. “It was exactly like the Afghanistan withdrawal. ‘We are going to do it come hell or high water. We don’t care what the conditions are. We’re going to do this as a virtual signal,’” Self lamented. “The decisions are made in the White House. … They are transmitted as, ‘You will do this, regardless of the conditions on the ground.’”

“You wonder where these kinds of decisions are coming from,” agreed Family Research Council Action President Jody Hice. “It’s one failure after another, after another. And now even the way we are walking back support towards our ally Israel across the board — it’s just yet another mistake.”

As always, the buck stops with the president. Believing himself imbued with the ingenuity and daring of Captain Nemo, President Biden embarked on a course that instead revealed the rashness and tunnel-vision of Captain Ahab.

“We’ve seen it since the Afghanistan withdrawal,” groaned Self. “There is no military analysis being done, that I can tell, in any of their decisions. … The southern border is the best example,” he added. Instead of preventing foreigners from illegally entering the country, the Biden administration is cutting fences erected by Texas in order to escort the aliens in. “The Border Patrol exists to process them and move them on into the interior of the United States.”

Sea captains might operate as despots of the deck, but agents of a popular government must submit to routine performance reviews. Come November, the American electorate will get to decide whether they appreciate President Biden’s pierless nautical misadventure and other assorted debacles, or whether they will reverse course, take the previous captain out of the brig, and put him back in charge.

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.