CONVENTIONAL wisdom has it that US presidential races don’t normally hinge on crises in far off lands. It suggests instead that the American electorate are much more inclined to “vote with their pocketbooks”.

But as the wars in Gaza and Ukraine continue to dominate global headlines and Joe Biden oscillates between backing Israel one minute and chastising it the next, as well as seemingly taking his eye of the ball in Ukraine, both crises appear to be endangering his re-election.

I’m not the only one I bet who finds it rich that the Biden administration has started finger wagging at Benjamin Netanyahu’s government given that Washington effectively helped unleash Israel’s dogs of war on the Palestinians in the first place.

No amount of US support and munitions it seemed were too great in that initial flush of war when Biden gave Netanyahu the thumbs up to go seeking all out revenge on the Palestinians, even if many have little truck with the toxic aberration that is Hamas.

As the New York Times observed the other day, Biden banked credibility with Jerusalem to be spent on moderating its response in Gaza only for the US president to find his account being drained and the cheques beginning to bounce. Or, as one US official wryly put it; “The Israelis are playing with house money.”

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Not that Netanyahu’s unsavoury coalition government will listen to any subsequent US chastisement – they rarely do. Sensing this, Biden has left it to his subordinates to deliver the tough messages in public to the Israelis.

In recent days, vice president Kamala Harris – remember her? – has declared that “Israel must do more to protect innocent civilians”, while defence secretary Lloyd Austin delivered the assessment that Israel risks “strategic defeat” unless it protects Palestinians in Gaza.

Talk about too little too late, or perhaps a more appropriate metaphor would be running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

For many Americans and indeed others, this was not how it was meant to be when Biden entered the White House. Here, after all, was a US president whose strong suit was supposed to be his experienced grasp of foreign affairs and – unlike his predecessor Donald Trump – could be relied upon to steer a fairly consistent and stable course in terms of US foreign policy.

To be fair to Biden, admittedly he and his team could not have foreseen the Hamas attack given that the Israelis themselves apparently failed to do so. Nor earlier almost two years ago now could Biden’s administration have banked on Vladimir Putin rolling Russia’s tanks into Ukraine and since then doubling down on the war there.

But as the saying goes, we are where we are, and for Biden that is now a tricky place indeed when it comes to foreign policy and its repercussions back home in America where he’s about to be plunged into the throes of the mother of all US presidential elections.

The National: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Both crises in Ukraine and Gaza are already directly feeding into American politics.

According to a recent NBC News poll, fully 70% of US voters under 35 disapprove of Biden’s handing of the Gaza crisis. Other polls too reveal that a majority of young voters do not support sending weapons to Israel.

Biden cannot afford to ignore such figures given that an issue like this could easily tip the scale in crucial swing states where razor-thin margins of victory are common.

It’s hardly surprising then that Biden’s main Republican rival Trump has wasted no time in reminding the US electorate that “sleepy Joe” is presiding over an administration caught napping.

Not only have Trump and other Republican presidential hopefuls already started flagging up current failings over Gaza and Ukraine, but have sought to highlight earlier ones in Afghanistan and looming ones with China over the Taiwan Strait.

There’s nothing new, of course, for Democrats losing sleep over the electoral consequences of being pro-Israel.

But Gaza aside for the moment, the precariousness of Ukraine’s situation is getting less attention than it should because of the focus on the Middle East. Here too Biden faces real challenges.

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Resupplied with many more drones and missiles, thanks to Iran and North Korea, the world can expect to see the Kremlin unleash its own fresh onslaught against Ukraine’s infrastructure in the hope of crippling the country’s power supply and winter heating.

Moscow might not have succeed last year but Ukraine after almost two years of a draining war is a very different place right now.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy knows this better than most, just as he knows that the current level of US support is already in the balance.

Just this week Zelenskyy cancelled plans to appeal directly to US politicians for new aid, as a partisan battle over immigration policy threatened to derail Biden’s latest request for billions of dollars for Kyiv.

Republicans and even Biden’s fellow Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives have been debating for weeks over Biden’s October request that Congress approve $106 billion for Ukraine, Israel, security at the US border with Mexico and US interests in the Indo-Pacific.

Funds for Ukraine many argue must be tied to “transformative change” in US immigration policy further adding to Biden’s foreign policy woes and their impact at home.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times a few days ago, Mark Hannah, a senior fellow at the Institute for Global Affairs at the Eurasia Group and an expert on US foreign policy, observed how historically, a foreign policy election often benefits the incumbent.

The National: The president of Ukraine Volodymyr ZelenskyyThe president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Certainly during the Cold War international crises often generated a “rally ’round the flag” effect for leaders seen as taking decisive action – but things are different for Biden.

“Voters today don’t agree on the dangers the US faces, let alone the best way to address them,” said Hannah, citing a recent survey entitled Order And Disorder – Views Of US Foreign Policy In A Fragmented World.

Where exactly the crises in Gaza and Ukraine fit into all this in terms of next year’s election remains to be seen. In one sense Biden is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t when it comes to US engagement on both issues.

Certainly, a divisive US election with Trump or whoever wins the Republican nomination sniping at Biden over foreign policy will cause him considerable problems at home.

Overseas, meanwhile, from Moscow to Beijing to Tehran there will also be a rubbing of hands in glee at what will be seen as US weakness and decline.

Whatever way you cut it politically, all this does not bode well for Biden, who some ungraciously, but not without accuracy, will argue that in part is of his own administration’s making.