Expect delays to your late Friday commute as President Joe Biden arrives in Seattle for a money-raising campaign visit.

Expect delays to your late Friday commute as President Joe Biden arrives in Seattle for a money-raising campaign visit.

Details about the Friday-Saturday trip and where the events would be held were thin. But Port of Seattle spokesperson Perry Cooper Friday morning said Air Force One would land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, with air traffic stopping for 30 minutes before Biden’s arrival until the plane is parked.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a flight restriction around Sea-Tac from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.

The Seattle Department of Transportation is warning drivers and transit users to expect significant delays in the Greater Seattle area and to be prepared for unpredictable detours. The Secret Service has the ability to close freeways and local roadways, and presidential security restrictions mean details on Biden’s trip aren’t shared with the public. Local and state transportation departments can’t say what roads or transit services will be closed for Biden’s visit.

In a release, SDOT said travelers should pay attention to King County Metro Transit alerts, as well as social media posts from King County Metro, SDOT Traffic and WSDOT Traffic.

Trips to the ballpark could be slowed for Mariners fans, as the team returns from the road for a 6:40 p.m. game against the Oakland Athletics.

King County Metro Transit said Thursday the South Lake Union streetcar won’t be in service from noon Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday. It was unclear if the shutdown is related to Biden’s visit, but streetcar service went dark when the president last visited the area in 2022 as he left downtown for an Earth Day event at Seward Park.

Also during that visit, access to Interstate 5 was restricted as Biden’s motorcade made its way south from the city core.

Biden is in town to raise money for his campaign during events Friday and Saturday, the White House said this week. A Friday reception will benefit the Biden Victory Fund, with tickets starting at $500 per person, according to an invitation.

Biden on Friday will be in the San Francisco Bay Area for two fundraising events, before arriving in Seattle.

He is expected to leave the region on Saturday.

Check seattletimes.com for updates Friday on the president’s visit and traffic impacts.

Just after Russia pushed further into Ukraine in February 2022, I met with a senior Singaporean diplomat. We were discussing other matters, but naturally, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine came up, and I asked him about Singapore’s position.

Had the diplomat resorted to some form of hedging, given the fact that relations with Russia matter to Singapore far more than Singapore’s relations with Ukraine, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But instead, the diplomat replied (and I’m paraphrasing), “We’re entirely behind Ukraine in this war. We’re a small country, and we depend on the rules-based order. It doesn’t matter how we feel about Ukraine or Russia, frankly—if we want to uphold the rules-based order in one place, we’ve got to do it everywhere.”

It was a brave position, which mirrored his prime minister’s stance, and it was one I hadn’t necessarily counted on.


I’ve considered that perspective over the past few months, because it is one that I find quite convincing. Singapore’s nonaligned and principled position is different than that of other nonaligned states, such as India or South Africa. But there’s an overriding view here: As full of holes as it is, the rules-based order is the best model we’ve come up with, civilizationally, to reduce widespread war and conflict.

But already in February 2022, it was awkward, to say the least, to advocate for it in much of the so-called global south—especially within the wider Arab world and Middle East. I remember meeting during that same spring with a senior European diplomat who was genuinely shocked that much of the Arab world seemed immune to arguments from the West that Arabs ought to support Ukraine against a violent invasion and occupation.

THAT WAS IN 2022. Two years on, it’s not simply more difficult to argue for the rules-based order in the global south—it’s almost impossible. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the world saw a non-Western power violating the rules-based order that the West claims to uphold as universally important.

As Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza—killing large numbers of civilians using U.S.-supplied weapons; restricting humanitarian aid even amid famine-like conditions; and standing in the dock at the International Court of Justice facing allegations that are so serious, 15 out of 17 judges found it plausible that the Palestinians’ right to to not be subjected to genocide could be threatened—the rest of the world perceives a violation of the rules-based order that is arguably much worse than Russia’s violations.

That’s because Israel is part of the Western bloc and is also defended by the most powerful elements of the Western bloc—in particular, the country that most frequently claims to be the defender of the world’s rules-based order: the United States.

Singaporeans’ views on the Israel-Hamas current war in Gaza’ are relevant, just as they are with Ukraine. After all, it’s a country that has long-standing ties to Israel—especially its security sector. Indeed, Singapore built up its defense capacity with help from Israel, starting very soon after Singapore gained independence. Trade between the two countries reportedly crossed exceeded $1 billion in 2022, and Singapore upgraded its diplomatic presence soon thereafter, with establishing a full ambassadorship and embassy in Tel Aviv that year.

Addressing a private group of global security sector professionals in Southeast Asia recently, I gave a speech on the rules-based order, and how—in my view—the current conflict in Gaza is causing substantial damage to it. I expected there to be pushback but I heard little of that.

If anything, in this off-the-record environment, there was a great deal of support for the argument from security professionals—Southeast Asians, including Singaporeans, but also ones from around the world more generally. Indeed, even some European security and defense professionals, including those who came from countries whose official stances have been vigorously pro-Israel lately, expressed their agreement—because in that community, the breakdown of the rules-based order is a very real national security risk.

THE ALLEGED HYPOCRISY OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY has long been a subject of fierce debate both within the West (including the United States) and outside of the it. Yet there is something unique and disturbing about this moment. When the U.S. army invaded Iraq in 2003, for example, it did so claiming that an evil tyrant (Saddam Hussein) had to be stopped, and it put forward all kinds of legal justifications for the so-called collateral damage that the invasion caused.

By contrast, today, the United States—the proclaimed upholder of the rules-based order—is not only defending and backing Israel. It’s also denying that any infringements are even taking place.

The U.S. government is not even claiming that Israel is justified in its violations—as it did to defend its own actions in Iraq—or asserting some kind of exceptional circumstance or exemption. Washington is actually claiming that violations haven’t even taken place, or to quote National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, that the State Department has found no incidents in which Israel “violated international humanitarian law” during its campaign against Gaza.

The evidence to the contrary is staggering, to the point that Washington’s closest international ally, the United Kingdom, has reportedly already received advice from government lawyers that Israel has breached international humanitarian law. Scores of human rights and legal groups, such as the International Humanitarian Law Centre, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam, in addition to international bodies such as the United Nations and a variety of individual states, all argue that Israel has been violating international law repeatedly over the past seven months, in a variety of ways.

International public opinion doesn’t see this as an interstate war between Israel and Hamas that is similar to Russia vs. Ukraine; rather, it sees Israel carrying out a campaign against Gaza writ large, and has determined that the estimated death toll of more than 35,000 people, the vast majority of whom are civilians, is wholly unjustified.

In that framing—which is far more common internationally—Israel becomes the equivalent of Russia, and Gaza becomes Ukraine. That Israel is the Western-aligned power in this scenario makes it all the more jarring.


In countries such as Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt, but also in South America, across East Asia, and elsewhere, there is very little debate about whether Israel is carrying out these infringements of international law. It is taken as a given, especially when considering the preliminary ruling by the International Court of Justice, the widespread famine and starvation around the Gaza Strip, and the rising death toll (which mostly comprises Palestinian civilians, but also Western aid workers such as those from the World Central Kitchen).

Yet despite the growing body of evidence from U.S. investigators substantiating those allegations and indicating that at least certain units of the Israeli military have been guilty of “gross violations of human rights,” Washington has failed to consistently apply the Leahy laws—a set of laws intended to prohibit U.S. government funds from being given to foreign actors deemed to be in violation of human rights.

This inaction drove a group of Democratic senators, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, to issue a statement calling on the U.S. government to “address concerns” regarding inconsistent applications of the law. And Congress is eagerly awaiting a State Department report on the truthfulness of Israel’s assurances that it has used U.S. weapons in compliance with international humanitarian law; yet another denial from Washington could be fatal to the image it still seeks to uphold.

This kind of parallel reality, where even potential violations of U.S. law are seemingly being disregarded by a U.S. president, is destabilizing in a way that the Washington establishment doesn’t seem to have quite appreciated as of yet.

The vast majority of the world’s nations have voted for cease-fire resolutions at the United Nations multiple times over the seven months, and several attempts were made at the U.N. Security Council to do the same; in nearly every case, the United States voted against or vetoed the resolutions. The contrast between the overwhelming consensus of international public opinion and that of U.S. political elites is stark—and it’s getting worse as the catastrophe in Gaza deepens and widens.

Even in ordinarily pro-Israel countries, there is now concern about the impact that Biden’s behavior will have on the rules-based order, and a growing worry that this order is being brought into disrepute. Again, this is not simply because of Israel’s actions, but because some of the most powerful members (primarily the United States but also Germany) of the bloc that proclaims itself the main guarantor of the rules-based order are denying that any violations are taking place, and simultaneously vigorously supporting the state that stands accused of violating that order.

The damage that this denial does to global trust in the rules-based order should not be underestimated. The bedrock of the international system is a commitment to the idea that there are rules that are embedded in international law, and that to avoid regressing into a state of “might is right” law of the jungle, the West needs to uphold those international legal norms as much as it can.

The breaking of the rules isn’t new—but Washington’s failure to even acknowledge that such violations are even plausibly going on destroys trust in that system on the one hand and demolishes U.S. credibility on the other. None of that is going unnoticed in the world—which leads to a worrying outcome.

Even in countries that don’t have a particularly strong history of solidarity with the Palestinians, for example, there is a recognition that the idea of a rules-based order is simply unrealistic, and that taking the United States at its word when it says it stands for such an order is foolhardy. If Washington policymakers are genuinely concerned about realignments on a geopolitical level—as they’ve witnessed in regions such as West Africa in the past year—then they have seen nothing yet.

The U.S. claim that there is a rules-based order—and that Washington is its ultimate guarantor—is now being questioned widely to a fundamental degree. When these norms are being unapologetically broken, and those breaks go unacknowledged—alongside steadfast U.S. military support for Israel—it has a tremendous impact on U.S. partners and allies worldwide.

At some point, there will be another crisis—in the Middle East, or somewhere else—about territory, climate change, or other issues. When those crises hit, Washington will need more, not fewer, mechanisms for de-escalation and mediation, because the alternatives are simply even worse than we can imagine.

Unfortunately, if the U.S. government does not engage in a massive course correction soon, there won’t be a rules-based order for it to invoke or rely on, because no one will take Washington seriously—and why should they.