In a Foreign Affairs memo, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s National Security Adviser, initially asserted that the White House had successfully “de-escalated the growing crises between Gaza and Israel.” However, significant revisions were made to his statements following a series of attacks by Hamas in early October, which led to an outbreak of conflict.
Within the pages of Jake Sullivan’s Foreign Affairs article, he delineated the Biden administration’s strategy for a “changed world” foreign policy, with the goal of fostering a “freer and more stable world.” Sullivan particularly lauded President Biden for his efforts to bring about peace in the Middle East.
However, several lines from his article were either removed or altered in the online version of Sullivan’s article following Hamas’s invasion of Israel on October 7, which resulted in the loss of 1,300 Israeli lives. It appears that the original version was published before these events and appeared in the magazine’s print edition released on Wednesday.
It’s uncommon for publications to allow authors to make substantial changes after a piece has been sent to print; typically, revisions are reserved for factual errors. Nonetheless, the digital edits to Sullivan’s article were significant and undermined his original argument that the Biden administration was achieving peace in the Middle East.
Instead of Sullivan’s initial claim that “we have de-escalated crises in Gaza,” the online version of his article now notes: “The original version of this article emphasized that this progress was fragile and that tensions between Israel and Palestinians and the threat that continues to be imposed by Iran. The October 7 attacks have cast a shadow over the entire region, the repercussions of which are yet to be seen, including the risk of significant escalation.”
In the printed edition of the article, Sullivan also stated that President Joe Biden’s outreach to Middle Eastern leaders “promotes de-escalating conflicts, deterring aggression, and integrating the area through joint infrastructure projects, including proposals between Israel and its Arab neighbors. And it is bearing fruit.”
However, following Hamas’s attacks on Israel, Sullivan’s stance appears to have shifted. In his revised version, Sullivan wrote that the White House is now “alert to the risk that the current crisis could spiral into a regional conflict.”
Notably, none of Sullivan’s original Middle East paragraphs are available in the online version of the article.
Sullivan’s tenure has been marked by criticism in Democratic foreign policy circles. In September, he boasted at the Atlantic Festival, “The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades.” However, he has overseen several foreign policy setbacks, including the 2011 military campaign against Libya, the 2014 Iran nuclear deal, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which resulted in the deaths of 13 Americans.