Abandoning the East-Med Gas Pipeline Strengthens Vladimir Putin’s Hand

Jan. 26 2022

Three years ago, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece created the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum to cooperate in the export of their offshore fossil-fuel reserves. They planned eventually to build an undersea pipeline that would bring the gas to Bulgaria and Italy, from which it could be transported to the rest of Europe. Shoshana Bryen explains why, despite legislative support from the U.S. Congress, Washington has stopped supporting the project, which is now stalled:

Amos Hochstein, now President Biden’s senior advisor for energy security, has said he would be “extremely uncomfortable with the U.S. supporting” East Med because of its environmental implications. “Why would we build a fossil-fuel pipeline between the East Med and Europe when our entire policy is to support new technology . . . and new investments in going green and in going clean?” Hochstein said, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. “By the time this pipeline is built we will have spent billions of taxpayer money on something that is obsolete—not only obsolete but against our collective interest.”

As a foreign-policy matter, Turkey and Russia heavily disapproved of the entire East Med project, which did not include either of them. Although Israel has said more than once that Turkey should be included in the consortium, Ankara has adamantly declined because it claims part of the energy resources of Cyprus as its own. Russia, for its part, would be happy to scuttle the pipeline to ensure its monopoly in Europe.

Russia already has enormous leverage. It is January and it is cold. Europeans are now facing shortages of natural gas, as Russia reduced its exports to Europe by more than 41 percent from the level of January 2021. It’s not that Russia can’t deliver more; it just chooses not to. . . . The final foreign-policy element in the East Med story is the Russia-U.S.-NATO standoff over Russian threats to Ukraine.

In particular, Germany, dependent on Russia for energy sources, has been reluctant to support providing NATO assistance to defend Ukraine or to shore up the defenses of Poland and the Baltic states.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: Israel diplomacy, Israeli gas, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter