Friday, March 4, 2022

Biden chooses appeasement over sound war-preventing diplomacy - Jonathan Cohen

 

by Jonathan Cohen

On the Ukraine issue, all we're getting out of the Biden administration is cowardice masquerading as virtue.

The first twelve minutes of Joe Biden's State of the Union message was devoted to a strong statement of support for the people of Ukraine and a salute to their courage.  It was, however, short on specifics of what the U.S. was prepared do to help Ukraine to repel what is likely to be a massive assault on its civilian population.

In response to a question from Peter Doocy about the failure of sanctions to deter the Russian invasion, Jen Psaki more realistically reflects what the United States and its NATO partners are actually willing to do.  At the end of the clip, she was quite clear that avoiding a direct military confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia is our number-one priority.  In spite of all the praise of the heroism of the Ukrainian people, military support for them sufficient to defend their country, in either weapons or personnel, is not coming because it would risk a wider war with Russia.

The State of the Union address and the news that NATO halted Poland's offer to send military planes to Ukraine are hauntingly reminiscent of the church scene from the movie High Noon, which ends with the final decision of the town asking the sheriff to leave.  Contrary to what some commentators are suggesting, it would be a mistake to believe that the elites in the United States and Europe are beating the drums for war.  It is the images of the Ukrainian resistance and the defiance of its leaders, brought into homes all over the world, creating popular demands for more military assistance.  People are responding to President Zelensky's statement "I don't need a ride, I need ammunition."  Like the movie-goers viewing High Noon, much of the public sees the actions of Western leaders as cowardice rather than reasonable caution.  The intense criticism of Putin, though justified, comes across as cowardice masquerading as virtue.

The NATO reaction to Russian actions toward Ukraine have consistently been a day late and a dollar short.  Our reluctance to act decisively for the nine months before the invasion was interpreted by Putin as weakness.  The humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan only confirmed Putin's assessment.  The 80 billion dollars of military equipment abandoned to the Taliban would have been put to far better use in defense of Ukraine.

The doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) helped prevent nuclear weapons from ever being employed in the 80 years since their initial use in 1945.  This gruesome game of chicken did not end in nuclear holocaust because each side had to assume that the other side might actually use its nukes.  With few exceptions, it deterred both sides in the Cold War from ever risking a direct military confrontation.

When asked about our failure to supply Ukraine with the weapons needed to deter the invasion, the Biden administration and its NATO partners have stressed they do not want to risk getting in a war with Russia.  By going out of our way to assure Russia that we are afraid to risk a confrontation, we are in effect replacing MAD with a one-sided Singularly Assured Appeasement.  When combined with denunciations of Putin, the policy in essence amounts to replacing "speak softly and carry a big stick" with "act weakly while carrying a big mouth" — which served only to embolden Putin.

The sanctions on Russia are indeed severe, and the Russians may eventually come to regret the invasion.  Sadly, economic consequences do not seem likely to change the military situation on the ground and provide little more than moral support.  However well intended, the policies of NATO and the United States are likely to maximize our humiliation as we stand poised militarily on the borders of Ukraine, watching helplessly, as Russia slaughters that country's brave defenders.

Image: ChristianIS via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

 

Jonathan Cohen

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2022/03/biden_chooses_appeasement_over_sound_warpreventing_diplomacy.html

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Saudi Crown Prince: We see Israel as a possible ally - Israel National News

 

by Israel National News

Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Atlantic Magazine: We do not want to see a weak nuclear deal with Iran.

 

Mohammed bin Salman
Mohammed bin Salman                                                                                                Reuters

The Saudi media today (Thursday) published extensive excerpts from an interview given by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud to the American magazine Atlantic.

In excerpts published by Kan News, the prince was asked about his attitude with regards to Israel and said, "We hope the problem between Israelis and Palestinians will be resolved. We do not see Israel as an enemy. We see it as a possible ally and there are many interests that can be realized together."

On the UAE's relationship with Israel, he said, "Every country has the full freedom to do what it wants according to what it sees fit. They have the full right to do whatever they see fit for the UAE."

Bin Salman also referred to the Iranian nuclear issue and talks between the powers and Iran in Vienna, saying, "The Iranians are our neighbors and will be forever. We cannot get rid of them and they cannot get rid of us, so we better resolve the issues and look for ways to coexist."

"Any country in the world that has nuclear bombs is dangerous, whether it is Iran or another country. We do not want to see a weak nuclear deal," he concluded.

 

Israel National News

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/323252

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'Social justice' breeds race-hatred - John Klar

 

by John Klar

The road to Hell is paved with the best of virtue-signaling intentions.

Social justice warriors (SJWs) risk infusing America with a race-based hatred that could seed the race war predicted for decades by white nationalists.  As with past ideological horrors, the SJWs don't know they are doing this — they are rubes for powerful interests who pave roads to Hell with the best of virtue-signaling intentions.

A white man I have known here in Vermont for 40 years approached me confidentially, in earnest.  Speaking in a hushed, almost ashamed, voice, he said, with his endearing Vermonter accent, "Johnny, my whole life I've never been a racist, but I think I may be one now.  I'm so sick of hearing about this s---!"

This is not a man who spent his formative years in the Green Mountain wilderness, clueless about race (as are the majority of white Vermont SJWs prancing around cluelessly "saving the black man").  No, this is a man who grew up in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, in a mixed-race neighborhood.  This is a man I've never heard make a racist remark in those 40 years.  And his "confession" to me was not an expression of pleasure or celebration — he was dismayed and even distraught at these feelings he had never had.

I have talked privately with many white Vermonters, who are becoming "woke" in a way perhaps unintended by the SJWs: they are sick and tired of endless complaints about racism and the marketization of "blackness" for commercial profit.  Nike makes money by stirring the pot of racial tensions to hawk its crap products (manufactured in sweatshops abroad using child labor).  In 2022, "buying black" is a cause célèbre for every product and service under the sun — massive corporations now profit by displaying their wares with black actors, showing how "enlightened" they are.

There is nothing enlightened about race-hustling, which is what this is.  Hiring pilots based on skin color rather than ability?  Martin Luther King, Jr.'s teachings were hung upside down to dry by Ibram Kendi.  King's prescription to battle hate with love has been eclipsed by the ill-considered, shallow rush to weaponize race for short-term political and commercial gain.  Ibram Kendi's childish intellect is dwarfed by the gargantuan genius and loving martyrdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Yet now Critical Race Theory threatens to destroy decades of racial progress overnight.

If screaming at people in the name of "anti-racism work" proves counterproductive, how will SJWs compel people to abandon racism?  Condition them in gulags, like Uyghurs?  Inject them with novel drugs and strap them to a chair, à la A Clockwork Orange?  Perhaps affixing a cage with a starved rat to their faces until they scream they are "woke"?

Shamelessly parading their open contempt for white people is now a path to fame and fortune for racist haters.  White people are all racist, they proclaim, and are all complicit in horrible wrongs that are not healable.  Imagine how this conditioning is shaping the next black generation's view of all white people — how will that be healed?

We glimpse here why my old, never-before-racist friend is disgusted with seeing black faces on TV — subconsciously, against his will.  Of course, what causes him angst is not black skin, but obnoxious, racist exploitation.  But is he able to distinguish the difference?  Sitting down after a hard day of work to watch football, is he preparing his mind to instead be subconsciously "acculturated"?  Is he viewing these shameless efforts to profit monetarily on past and current suffering as ideological or race-based?  It is terrifying that not all people will make this subtle, vital distinction; it is villainous that progressives use race this way for ideological domination.

Black Lives Matter has not helped black people — it has milked them for profit and worsened race relations exponentially.  How will Progressives control this idiotic, failed racialization?  Will tax returns have a race box to tick?  How long before many white people simply hate black people where they never before did, seeded by so-called "anti-racists"?

SJWs are conditioning an entire generation of white and black people to hate each other for skin pigment.  Calling people racist who are not is just racism, and it reaps the harvest foretold by Martin Luther King, Jr.: reciprocal hate and endless tribalism.  What are the qualifications of Ibram X. Kendi to displace our nation's black icon of equality, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.?  How quickly King's legacy has been canceled.

Malcolm X famously said, "You can't hate the roots of the tree without ending up hating the tree.  You can't hate your origin without ending up hating yourself."  SJWs hate the roots: they hate everything.  CRT conditions whites to hate themselves.  SJWs erase culture, manipulate facts, and rewrite history, but they cannot "cancel" human emotions by imposing false dogmas.

Humans force-feed geese, but they can't make the geese enjoy it.  Social justice "theory" is nasty feed, funneled down the throats of white and black people.  White people whipped endlessly with race-based shame are being psychologically conditioned to develop one of two possible emotional responses: apathy or antipathy.

Neither is good.

Follow John Klar.

Image: Andy Witchger via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

 

John Klar

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2022/03/social_justice_breeds_racehatred.html/03/while_all_eyes_are_on_ukraine_bidens_administration_is_selling_out_to_iran.html

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Anonymous claims evidence of internal power struggle in Kremlin - Y. Rabinovitz


by Y. Rabinovitz

According to hacking collective, warnings of assassination attempt against Pres. Zelensky were leaked by Russian Security Service.

 

Anonymous (illustrative)
Anonymous                                                                                                                 iStock

According to the hacking collective Anonymous, information warning Ukraine of an assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was leaked from the Russian Federal Security Service.

Anonymous claims that this is evidence of significant internal tensions within the Russian leadership cliques which could even culminate in a coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to Anonymous, it has also been taking action against Belarus, with attacks on its railway service due to its support of Russia.


On Thursday, Anonymous claimed that it had succeeded in taking down the website belonging to the Russian Space Agency for a second time.


Y. Rabinovitz

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/323212

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Customs officials in southern Israel discover 7,000 9mm bullets hidden in rolls of insulation material. - Israel National News

 

by Israel National News

Customs officials in southern Israel discover 7,000 9mm bullets hidden in rolls of insulation material.

 

The confiscated bullets
The confiscated bullets                                                                    Tax Authority spokesperson

Customs inspectors in Ashdod, in cooperation with the National Center for Evaluating Cargo in the Tax Authority, uncovered an attempt to smuggle 7,000 bullets nine millimeters in diameter, which were intended for shipment to an importer from Gaza.

The bullets were discovered hidden inside rolls of insulation material, which was stored within a container containing various household items.

By means of location and identification devices of various types, the Ashdod Customs officials succeeded in identifying the cleverly-hidden illegal weapons, and a more in-depth search revealed the bullets.

This is not the first time Ashdod Customs officials have worked together with the National Center for Evaluating Cargo: previous instances included locating and identifying attempts to smuggle various items into Gaza, including ammunition and products and materials which could be used for multiple purposes and which were intended for the weapons manufacturing industry in Gaza.

"The Tax Authority will continue its ongoing efforts to prevent smuggling at the borders, especially the smuggling of weapons and materials used to manufacture them," a statement read.

Bullets inside roll of insulation material Tax Authority spokesperson
 
Insulation material used for hiding bullets Tax Authority spokesperson
 

Israel National News

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/323227

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Hollywood hits Russia with its own form of sanctions -- barring concerts, movie festivals and more - Melissa Roberto

 

by Melissa Roberto

Musicians, festival organizers and industry leaders are cutting ties with Russia due to the invasion

While leaders around the world, including President Biden, have announced sanctions on Russia over its multifront war on Ukraine, major players in Hollywood are taking swift action of their own to condemn President Vladimir Putin's actions.

Over the last week, musicians, festival organizers and industry leaders have announced their decisions to postpone events in Russia, severely limiting entertainment offerings in the country.

Musicians press pause 

The band "Imagine Dragons" was scheduled to perform in both Russia and Ukraine this coming June, but revealed over the weekend its decision to halt the shows.

RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: LIVE UPDATES

"In light of recent events, we're sad to announce our Russia and Ukraine shows are canceled until further notice. Our thoughts are with Ukraine and all others suffering from this needless war," a statement on the band's social media accounts reads. 

Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee and Daniel Platzman of Imagine Dragons perform live at PPL Center on Feb. 16, 2022. The band announced it has canceled shows due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee and Daniel Platzman of Imagine Dragons perform live at PPL Center on Feb. 16, 2022. The band announced it has canceled shows due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (Lisa Lake)

Green Day posted a similar statement on its Instagram Story earlier this week.

"With heavy hearts, in light of current events we feel it is necessary to cancel our upcoming show in Moscow at Spartak Stadium," Green Day wrote.

"We are aware that this moment is not about stadium rock shows, it’s much bigger than that. But we also know that rock and roll is forever and we feel confident there will be a time and a place for us to return in the future," the band continued. "Refunds available at the point of purchase. Stay safe."

Louis Tomlinson took to Twitter on Monday to share that tour stops in Moscow and Kyiv have been postponed.

"Due to the recent events in Ukraine, I have to sadly announce that my tour shows in Moscow and Kyiv are cancelled until further notice. The safety of my fans is my priority and my thoughts go out to the people of Ukraine and all those suffering from this needless war," the former One Direction performer said. 

Similarly, indie pop trio AJR said it was sad to announce its upcoming show in Russia has been canceled and hit at Russia's "criminal behavior."

"Thank you to our Russian fans who oppose their country's unprovoked and criminal behavior. Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine. At this point, the best thing you can do share ACCURATE info."

Eric Clapton's shows in St. Petersburg as well as Moscow have also "been canceled and will not be rescheduled," a rep for the musician told Fox News Digital.

 

Health, a rock band, also informed fans about its decision to no longer perform at two scheduled appearances in Russia. 

"Though we do not wish to penalize our fans for governmental decisions that are beyond their control, given the current state of affairs we will no longer be performing our previously scheduled shows in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Our thoughts go out to the people of Ukraine," the statement posted to Instagram reads.

English musician Yungblud announced he was "heartbroken" to cancel his Russian shows scheduled for this summer. 

"Heartbroken because I know the vicious and brutal acts of the Russian regime in Ukraine over the past week do not reflect the attitudes and ideals of the beautiful people who I have met in Russia in the past!"

Movie releases, festivals canned

The cultural backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified Tuesday as France's Cannes Film Festival said no Russian delegations would be welcome this year.

The Venice Film Festival, meanwhile, said it was organizing free screenings of the film "Reflection," about the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as a sign of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The screenings are scheduled for next week in Rome, Milan and Venice.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, presents a medal to Valery Gergiev, then the Mariinsky Theatre's artistic director, during an awards ceremony in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, presents a medal to Valery Gergiev, then the Mariinsky Theatre's artistic director, during an awards ceremony in Moscow. (Associated Press)

The announcements by Europe's two premier film festivals came on the heels of other high-profile protests in the arts, including Hollywood's decision to pull films scheduled for release in Russia and the Munich Philharmonic's decision to fire chief conductor Valery Gergiev. The orchestra, joined by other orchestras and festivals linked to Gergiev, cited his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his refusal to reject the invasion.

Cannes, which is scheduled for May, is the most global of film festivals and its international village of flag-waving pavilions annually hosts more than 80 countries from around the world.

In a statement, festival organizers said the ban on any official Russian delegation or individuals linked to the Kremlin would remain "unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people."

The festival didn’t rule out accepting films from Russia. In recent years, Cannes has showcased films from filmmakers like Kirill Serebrennikov, even though the director hasn’t been unable to attend. Serebrennikov is under a three-year travel ban after being accused of embezzlement by the Russian government in a case that was protested by the Russian artistic community and in Europe.

A satellite image shows a blaze at warehouse and destroyed fields in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022. Inset: Disney logo.

A satellite image shows a blaze at warehouse and destroyed fields in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022. Inset: Disney logo.  (Reuters)

After Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony announced they would halt distributing films in Russia, including Warner's highly anticipated "The Batman," Paramount Pictures announced likewise Tuesday. That includes upcoming releases like "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" and "The Lost City."

Last week, the European Broadcasting Union announced Russia would not be allowed to enter an act for this year's Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Turin in May.

Maneskin from Italy perform Zitti E Buoni after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Last week, the European Broadcasting Union announced Russia would not be allowed to enter an act for this year's Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Turin in May.

Maneskin from Italy perform Zitti E Buoni after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Last week, the European Broadcasting Union announced Russia would not be allowed to enter an act for this year's Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Turin in May. (Associated Press)

Leading entertainment companies

Live Nation Entertainment announced Tuesday that it's "strongly condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine."

Live Nation announced Tuesday it will stop doing business with Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Live Nation announced Tuesday it will stop doing business with Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket )

"We will not promote shows in Russia, and we will not do business with Russia. We're in the process of reviewing our vendors so we can cease work with any and all Russian-based suppliers," the company said in a statement.

Several companies, including Google, TikTok, YouTube, DirecTV, and Meta, have restricted access to RT America, a Russian state-owned media outlet that the U.S. State Department describes as a critical element in "Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem." 

Apple announced it would cease selling all its products in Russia, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac computer and other devices. 

Apple's CEO Tim Cook. The tech company announced it would cease selling its products in Russia.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook. The tech company announced it would cease selling its products in Russia. (Associated Press)

"We’re doing all we can for our teams [in Ukraine] and will be supporting local humanitarian efforts," Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted last week. 

Netflix said it will not broadcast 20 Russian state TV channels that it is required to air under Russian media laws. 

Fox News' Michael Ruiz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Melissa Roberto covers entertainment at Foxnews.com. You can reach her at Melissa.Roberto@fox.com.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/hollywood-russia-sanctions

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Israel preparing a field hospital for Ukraine, Health Minister says - Lahav Harkov

 

by Lahav Harkov

The Israeli field hospital in Ukraine will be managed entirely by the Health Ministry and not by the IDF Medical Corps.

Israel prepares to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, March 1, 2022 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Israel prepares to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, March 1, 2022
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Israel is preparing to set up a field hospital to help wounded Ukrainians, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said on Thursday.

“It will be operated by civilians, preparations are underway in the Health Ministry,” Horowitz told Kan Bet. “There are many volunteers, medical professionals and medics who want to go.”

The field hospital will be managed entirely by the Health Ministry and not by the IDF Medical Corps, the minister said.

 

Lahav Harkov

Source: https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-699205

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Paskudnyak Putin - Lawrence Kadish

 

by Lawrence Kadish

[U]nlike Stalin whose deliberate famine in Ukraine starved 3.9 million to death far from the prying eyes of an indifferent world, Putin's actions are being caught on every smartphone and being transmitted around the world.


Learn the phrase, for historians will be referencing it for generations to come.

Linguists remind us that Paskudnyak is "THE most potent and offensive insult known to man. It has so much connotation that cannot be truly defined that the closest you can come to its meaning is 'horrible person'.... Use with caution."

And so with cluster bombs and shattered hospitals, schools, and apartments, Putin has earned the title of Paskudnyak, a description that will accompany him as long as long as there are historians to record the deeds of despots, dictators, and war criminals, who would crush democracy and freedom.

To be clear, his actions have defamed a nation. And unlike Stalin whose deliberate famine in Ukraine starved 3.9 million to death far from the prying eyes of an indifferent world, Putin's actions are being caught on every smartphone and being transmitted around the world. No matter how hard his collaborators try, no matter how much propaganda his state-controlled media produces, there will be no denying the actions of this Paskudnyak.

We also need to appreciate that this is a major tipping point in world history. It will require the Europeans to face the fact that while the Soviet Union is no more the Russian dream of empire, it is still alive and well in the fantasy space occupied by Paskudnyak Putin. Eastern Europe hasn't faced such a threat in generations. Not only will NATO need to spend real GNP on defense but on creating energy alternatives that no longer depend on a Kremlin that views national borders as mere road signs for their tanks.

America too must address the fact that shutting down domestic energy resources available through technology such as fracking will place us at strategic economic and national security risks. Analysts are already predicting that oil will soar well beyond $110 a barrel and that has enormous implications for every sector of our economy.

It is a terrible irony that the long acknowledged Paskudnyak, Adolf Hitler, ravaged Putin's Mother Russia some 80 years ago. How terrible to the memories of those 20 million Russian victims that Hitler should now be joined by one of their own.

 

Lawrence Kadish serves on the Board of Governors of Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/18287/paskudnyak-putin

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Determined Leadership Everywhere but America: Open the Spigots, Open the EastMed Pipeline - Pete Hoekstra

 

by Pete Hoekstra

[T]he Biden Administration still refuses to reverse America's dependency on Russian oil and gas by increasing domestic production and opening pipelines at home. There also has been no move to close the gigantic loopholes that fail to sanction Russia's oil and energy sector...

  • Leadership starts at the top, and Zelenskyy's leadership -- even that of Europe -- stands in sharp contrast to the failed leadership coming from almost every corner of the Biden Administration.

  • The Biden Administration has been quick to join in on the sanctions and other measures targeting Russia, but note: Biden has joined, he has not led.

  • [T]he Biden Administration still refuses to reverse America's dependency on Russian oil and gas by increasing domestic production and opening pipelines at home. There also has been no move to close the gigantic loopholes that fail to sanction Russia's oil and energy sector...

  • Under Biden's leadership, we are experiencing policies that ask Americans to sacrifice and end up paying for Russia's aggression, rather than unleashing American ingenuity and creativity to meet the challenge.

  • Switzerland abandoned its famous neutrality to sanction Russia and freeze the legendary Swiss bank accounts of Russian oligarchs. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reversed course to close Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, now in bankruptcy, to Germany, and to bolster the German military. Sweden and Finland are seriously considering reversing long-held positions, in order to join NATO. Meanwhile the Biden Administration remains stuck on its policy of American energy dependency, even pulling the plug on the crucial EastMed gas pipeline to Europe from America's allies, Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The EastMed pipeline should be built without delay.

  • Let us see to it that Ukraine does become the end of the line for Putin, who has already accumulated a long trail of war crimes and other atrocities. Putin's Waterloo. We have been imposing only half-hearted financial sanctions, "riddled with loopholes" and not hitting Russia's oil and gas. We have passively been watching Putin's savage assault on Ukraine in real time his countless war crimes -- including "pummeling civilian areas" and reportedly using cluster and vacuum bombs -- as well as the humanitarian crisis he has unleashed. Let us hope that Biden shows real leadership and changes course so that America will no longer be reliant on Russia and China, regardless of the outcome. Now that would be in the best interests of the United States.

Leadership starts at the top, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's leadership -- even that of Europe -- stands in sharp contrast to the failed leadership coming from almost every corner of the Biden Administration. Pictured: Zelenskyy meets with US President Joe Biden at the White House on September 1, 2021. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

At present, Ukraine's forces look out-gunned and outnumbered by Russia's military. If Russian President Vladimir Putin ultimately does succeed in overpowering Ukraine and its capital, Kyiv, let us make sure it is his Waterloo.

Boosted by the determined and pugnacious leadership shown by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, global reaction to Putin's invasion has been swift and hard on Russia. Sanctions on the Russian Central Bank and the restrictions on some Russian banks from the SWIFT banking transaction system have reduced the value of a Russian ruble to less than a penny while interest rates in Russia top 20%. The Russian stock market has been preemptively closed to prevent a crash, and Russian airlines are banned from flying over large swaths of the planet.

In a surprising move, Germany in an astounding reversal, put Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline on hold, and on March 1, its operator filed for bankruptcy and fired all its employees. In another impressive about-face, overturning decades of former policy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the country would increase military spending to meet NATO's defense spending requirement of 2% of GDP, and vastly increase its military capabilities. As a U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, I had advocated both those moves.

When Putin started his military campaign, he surely did not see it unifying Europe and the West, bolstering NATO, and cratering the Russian economy.

The Biden Administration has been quick to join in on the sanctions and other measures targeting Russia, but note: Biden has joined, he has not led. It was, in fact, the Europeans who led on Nord Stream and restricting Russia's access to the SWIFT banking communications system. Europe and Canada have closed their airspace to Russian planes, yet American airspace remained open for days after that (only closing U.S. airspace as of last night). Germany reversed course on its military spending, yet the Biden Administration still refuses to reverse America's dependency on Russian oil and gas by increasing domestic production and opening pipelines at home. There also has been no move to close the gigantic loopholes that fail to sanction Russia's oil and energy sector, or to approve the EastMed pipeline that would diversify the supply of energy to Europe.

Ironically, as Americans are experiencing soaring gas prices at the pump, the U.S. is actually funding Russia's aggression in Ukraine by buying 500,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia. At $100 a barrel, that provides Putin with $50,000,000 a day to help him destroy Ukraine, possibly to be followed by Moldova, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Poland.

Rather than financing Putin's war, America should open America's Keystone XL pipeline and promote shale oil and gas production domestically. Conversely, the Biden administration, appears stuck on doubling down on its failed energy policies -- "OPEC Says to Biden: If You Want More Oil, Pump It Yourself"; the Green New Deal, where Americans are supposed to buy expensive electric vehicles that of course require of fossil fuels to manufacture, and "climate change."

It is telling of the Biden Administration's priorities that, as war rages, innocent civilians are massacred and the entire world order is being threatened by Russia, China and Iran. Regrettably, Biden's "esteemed" national security team also decided to share U.S. intelligence on Russia with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in hopes that the CCP would rally with West to deter Russian aggression. As former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, it is stunning to see that the intelligence community and the Biden national security team could even think this was a good idea.

Leadership starts at the top, and Zelenskyy's leadership -- even that of Europe -- stands in sharp contrast to the failed leadership coming from almost every corner of the Biden Administration. Under Biden's leadership, we are experiencing policies that ask Americans to sacrifice and end up paying for Russia's aggression, rather than unleashing American ingenuity and creativity to meet the challenge. As Ukrainian citizens risk their lives and die fighting to save their country, the Biden Administration is worrying about CO2. In its promotion of "green energy," we see the Biden administration embracing strategies that empower the Chinese Communist party, who control the rare earth minerals and solar panel production needed for "green energy."

Zelenskyy, who may end up paying with his life, evidently saw that he needed to provide bold leadership for his people in the face of a militarily superior foe. When the Biden team offered to help evacuate Zelenskyy from Kyiv, he responded, "I need ammunition, not a ride." Switzerland abandoned its famous neutrality to sanction Russia and freeze the legendary Swiss bank accounts of Russian oligarchs. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reversed course to close Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, now in bankruptcy, to Germany, and to bolster the German military. Sweden and Finland are seriously considering reversing long-held positions, in order to join NATO. Meanwhile the Biden Administration remains stuck on its policy of American energy dependency, even pulling the plug on the crucial EastMed gas pipeline to Europe from America's allies, Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The EastMed pipeline should be built without delay.

Let us see to it that Ukraine does become the end of the line for Putin, who has already accumulated a long trail of war crimes and other atrocities. Putin's Waterloo. We have been imposing only half-hearted financial sanctions, "riddled with loopholes" and not hitting Russia's oil and gas. We have passively been watching Putin's savage assault on Ukraine in real time his countless war crimes -- including "pummeling civilian areas" and reportedly using cluster and vacuum bombs -- as well as the humanitarian crisis he has unleashed. Let us hope that Biden shows real leadership and changes course so that America will no longer be reliant on Russia and China, regardless of the outcome. Now that would be in the best interests of the United States.

 

Pete Hoekstra was US Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration. He served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the second district of Michigan and served as Chairman and Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently Chairman of the Center for Security Policy Board of Advisors, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/18294/determined-leadership

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Thursday, March 3, 2022

$1 million bounty on Putin offered by Russian businessman - Tzvi Joffre

 

by Tzvi Joffre

The Russian entrepreneur said the Russian president came to power by "blowing up apartment buildings in Russia."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at a polling station in Moscow. (photo credit: YURI KADOBNOV/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at a polling station in Moscow.
(photo credit: YURI KADOBNOV/POOL VIA REUTERS)

A $1,000,000 bounty for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin was offered to military officers by Russian entrepreneur Alex Konanykhin in a post he published on social media this week, as Russia continued its invasion of Ukraine.

"I promise to pay $1,000,000 to the officer(s) who, complying with their constitutional duty, arrest(s) Putin as a war criminal under Russian and international laws," wrote Konanykhin on LinkedIn. "Putin is not the Russian president as he came to power as the result of a special operation of blowing up apartment buildings in Russia, then violated the Constitution by eliminating free elections and murdering his opponents."

"As an ethnic Russian and a Russian citizen, I see it as my moral duty to facilitate the denazification of Russia. I will continue my assistance to Ukraine in its heroic efforts to withstand the onslaught of Putin's Orda," added the businessman. Orda is the Russian word for "horde," a predatory, plundering gang.

The post was accompanied by an image with a photo of Putin and the words "Wanted: Dead or alive. Vladimir Putin for mass murder."

Konanykhin has a turbulent history with the Russian government.

According to a 1996 article in The Washington Post, Konanykhin studied at the Moscow Physics and Technical Institute before abandoning his studies and opening a student construction cooperative. He then branched out into a number of other businesses, including banking, stocks and real estate.

By the age of 25, he had an empire of over 100 firms. By 1992, his companies were worth about $300 million. He was even a part of then-Russian president Boris Yeltsin's first delegation to Washington that year.

In 1996, while living in the US, Konanykhin and his wife were arrested by federal immigration agents on charges of violating the conditions of their American visas. The case was seemingly sparked after Russian authorities claimed that he embezzled $8 million from the Russian Exchange Bank in Moscow.

The case went on for weeks, with FBI agents testifying that the Russian mafia had taken out a contract on Konanykhin's life as well as a former KGB agent who testified that he had serious doubts about the charges filed against the oligarch.

During the trial, Konanykhin testified that some of his corporate aides at the Russian Exchange Bank began pressuring him for money and made threats, prompting him to move to Hungary, according to the Post. He claimed that he was then threatened with violence again, prompting him to flee to the Czech Republic and then to New York.

Konanykhin complained about the threats to Russian officials and even Yeltsin himself. At a certain point, authorities stopped investigating the threats and began investigating him instead, claiming he had illegally wired $8 million from the bank to his personal accounts overseas. Russian authorities claimed that his version of events was fake and aimed to slander his former employees.

A settlement was eventually reached and he was freed from detention and eventually granted political asylum. Just a few years later, however, the Board of Immigration Appeals revoked the political asylum and ordered that he be deported. Konanykhin and his wife attempted to flee to Canada but were arrested.

The deportation of the couple was cancelled following a number of emergency hearings after U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis found the decision unlawful, saying "I have the firm impression that it is the strong desire of people in the executive branch to return this man to Russia for what reason I cannot tell. It stinks," according a report by the Moscow Times. He was granted asylum again in 2007.

In 2011, he founded TransparentBusiness, which helps companies manage their remote workforce. He is also part of Unicorn Hunters, a show which allows unicorn founders to pitch to millions of investors around the world.

Natan Rothstein contributed to this report.

 

Tzvi Joffre

Source: https://www.jpost.com/international/article-699098

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Biden's 'Capitulation' To Iran Endangers Arabs, Middle East, U.S. - Khaled Abu Toameh

 

by Khaled Abu Toameh

"Biden has decided to acquiesce in Iran... to yield to its expansionist project, which ultimately aims to impose Iranian hegemony in the region." — Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of the Bahraini newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej, February 25, 2022.

  • "The parties of the international community that are negotiating with Iran.... must realize that the extremist Iranian regime has not, and will not, abide by international laws, regulations and agreements, even if it swore and signed or pledged to abide by and implement them. The Iranian regime was founded on the... Khomeini ideology that adopts terrorism and believes in exporting chaos and destruction." — Dr. Ibrahim al-Nahhas, Saudi political analyst and academic, Al-Riyadh, February 23, 2022.

  • The Khomeini ideology... has already brought destruction to Arab countries, including Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. — Dr. Ibrahim al-Nahhas, Al-Riyadh, February 23, 2022.

  • "Although the Biden administration pledged upon its arrival at the White House that it would not be a third term for former President Barack Obama, it is following him step by step. This is evident in the Biden administration's position on the Iranian nuclear issue. This position seems to be weak, hesitant and subject to Iranian blackmail.... In the end, the countries of the region will not accept being hostage to Iranian nuclear technology." — Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali, Syrian political analyst, Okaz, February 23, 2022.

  • The most dangerous point is that the US administration "has ignored other issues in which Iran poses a threat to the region, including the ballistic missile program" as well as the terrorist militias. — Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali, Okaz, February 23, 2022.

  • "These militias are Iran's arm in the region and they intend to spread chaos and destruction wherever they are. The [new] agreement is expected to unleash Iran's hand in the region, as what happened during the Obama era, which led to an increase in violence in the region." — Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali, Okaz, February 23, 2022.

  • "It is not surprising that Vladimir Putin went to the end in Ukraine after discovering that he faced an American administration that could not be more than an extension of Barack Obama's administration. The Biden administration can yell and threaten as much as it wants." — Kheirallah Kheirallah, veteran Lebanese journalist, Al-Arab, February 16, 2022.

  • In [Fahs's] view, not reaching any agreement would be better than reaching a new one. "The lack of agreement will keep the conflict with Iran confined to the great powers." — Mustafa Fahs, Lebanese editor, Asharq Al-Awsat, February 25, 2022.

  • "Biden has decided to acquiesce in Iran... to yield to its expansionist project, which ultimately aims to impose Iranian hegemony in the region." — Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of the Bahraini newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej, February 25, 2022.

  • "In other words, it means that Iran and its proxies feel at liberty to do whatever they want. We should expect that reaching a new agreement with Iran will mark the inauguration of a new era of escalation of the Iranian terrorist threat in the region. The Arab countries must prepare for this." — Sayed Zahra, Akhbar Al-Khaleej, February 25, 2022.

  • Most disturbing is what a growing number of Arabs are trying to warn the Biden administration about: that striking a new deal with Iran would not only embolden Iran and its terrorist proxies and endanger America's friends in the Middle East, but create calamitous turmoil, including a nuclear arms race "on steroids" in the region -- all of which would justifiably be blamed on the Biden administration. It appears that the Biden administration has chosen to ignore the likelihood of this terrifying scenario. It is a decision that is causing irreparable damage to America's credibility in the Middle East.

  • Moreover, as Arab analysts are saying in no uncertain terms, America and its Western allies are themselves in the sights of the mullahs in Tehran.

  • Worse, as with Biden's generosity to Russian President Vladimir Putin in extending the new START treaty and gifting him the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline (which yesterday filed for bankruptcy), it will not buy goodwill. It will only appear as weakness and accelerate aggression against the West.

Arabs are warning that the Biden administration's appeasement of the extremist and terrorist regime in Tehran would allow Iran's proxy militias to continue their attacks on America's Arab allies and massively destabilize the Middle East. (Image source: iStock)

As the world's attention is focused on the Russia-Ukraine war, the Arabs are continuing to express fear about the possibility that the Biden administration and the world powers will revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

The Arabs are warning that the appeasement of the extremist and terrorist regime in Tehran would allow Iran's proxy militias to continue their attacks on America's Arab allies and massively destabilize the Middle East. Dr. Ibrahim al-Nahhas, a prominent Saudi political analyst and academic, wrote on February 23:

"The parties of the international community that are negotiating with Iran, especially the P5+1 (the US and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, Britain, and Germany), must realize that the extremist Iranian regime has not, and will not, abide by international laws, regulations and agreements, even if it swore and signed or pledged to abide by and implement them... The Iranian regime was founded on the [former supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah] Khomeini ideology that adopts terrorism and believes in exporting chaos and destruction."

Nahhas cautions that if Iran obtains a nuclear agreement that prioritizes economic, commercial and investment interests at the expense of the security interests of the Arab countries, "the destructive capabilities and extremism of the Khomeini ideology that exported terrorism, chaos, havoc and destruction to the countries of the region will be enhanced."

The Khomeini ideology, Nahhas pointed out, has already brought destruction to Arab countries, including Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

Those who signed the 2015 nuclear deal made "major mistakes," the Saudi political analyst argued.

"They agreed to sit with a regime that explicitly declares its support and sponsorship of terrorism and extremism; they agreed to enter into secret talks [with Iran] without the knowledge of the countries that are negatively affected by the terrorism and extremism of the Iranian regime; and they signed an agreement that did not take into account the interests and concerns of the countries and peoples of the region."

By reaching that deal with Iran, Nahhas added, the US and the other world powers "implicitly accepted extremist political regimes and terrorist and destructive practices. They also accepted Iranian intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, the development of destructive weapons, and acquiring nuclear technology for military purposes."

Nahhas said that he believes that the talks in Vienna between Iran and the US and the world powers will lead to a deal that is worse than the previous agreement.

"The P5+1 group is once again moving towards rewarding the extremist Iranian regime for its terrorist and destructive policies, practices and behavior... This group works without realizing the direct harm to global security, peace and stability. This group needs to take into account the great danger that the extremist Iranian regime poses to global security, peace and stability. It needs to be aware of the great suffering caused by the Iranian regime's terrorism and extremism. It is necessary for this group to listen to the fears and concerns of the countries of the region about the continuation of Iran's nuclear program and to actually learn about the suffering of the peoples affected by the terrorism and extremism of the Iranian regime. The ambitions and policies of the extremist Iranian regime will cause further destabilization of security, peace and global stability if it is given more privileges in the nuclear and armaments fields. If the group does not acknowledge these facts, it will notice them when Iranian terrorism and extremism reach the countries (that are currently negotiating with Iran). The [Iranian] terrorism and extremism, however, will be more violent and destructive, given the nuclear and armaments benefits it will obtain from a new agreement.

Alarmed by reports of an imminent deal with Iran, Syrian political analyst and commentator Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali asserted on February 23 that the world will be less safe after the signing of a new nuclear accord with the mullahs in Tehran. Al-Ali wrote:

"Although the Biden administration pledged upon its arrival at the White House that it would not be a third term for former President Barack Obama, it is following him step by step... This is evident in the Biden administration's position on the Iranian nuclear issue. This position seems to be weak, hesitant and subject to Iranian blackmail."

Al-Ali pointed out that the Arabs have repeatedly called to make the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

"But is the nuclear agreement pushing the region a step in this direction? The answer is no. On the contrary, the new agreement will increase tension and push for an arms race and perhaps a race towards possessing nuclear technology. In the end, the countries of the region will not accept being hostage to Iranian nuclear technology."

The Syrian analyst said that according to various leaks, the emerging agreement with Iran does not address the "negative points" of the 2015 agreement that prompted then US President Donald Trump to withdraw from deal in 2018.

"The duration of the agreement is still a negative point," Al-Ali pointed out. "The question is, what will happen after the end of this period? Will Iran be free to reach the nuclear bomb?"

The most dangerous point, he warned, is that the US administration "has ignored other issues in which Iran poses a threat to the region, including the ballistic missile program."

"This program is dangerous in two respects. The first is the ability of Iranian missiles to carry nuclear warheads, and therefore ballistic missiles are part of the nuclear program, and there is no sense in any arrangements that do not take into account placing restrictions on it... The second issue is the spread of these ballistic missiles in the region and the provision of them to terrorist organizations. These missiles are now posing a threat to international trade routes, as well as to neighboring countries that are supposed to be allies of Washington."

Al-Ali also noted that the negotiations held in Vienna did not address Iran's support for terrorist militias.

"This is not a secondary or marginal issue, but it rather directly affects security and stability in the entire region... These militias are Iran's arm in the region and they intend to spread chaos and destruction wherever they are. The [new] agreement is expected to unleash Iran's hand in the region, as what happened during the Obama era, which led to an increase in violence in the region."

The US and its Western allies, Al-Ali said, are mistaken if they think that a new agreement will achieve progress in the region.

"Instead, we expect an increase in the pace of terrorist acts and the growth of conflicts in the region... The threat will reach Western societies. If an agreement is reached with Iran, this will be similar to the Munich Agreement, which released Hitler's hand in Europe and wreaked unprecedented havoc on Europe."

Veteran Lebanese journalist Kheirallah Kheirallah wrote on February 16 that the Biden administration seems ready to cave in to the mullahs in Tehran.

The Ukraine crisis, Kheirallah said, "exposed the weakness of the Biden administration, which appears ready to submit to the Islamic Republic."

"It is not surprising that Vladimir Putin went to the end in Ukraine after discovering that he faced an American administration that could not be more than an extension of Barack Obama's administration. The Biden administration can yell and threaten as much as it wants."

The US, according to the Lebanese journalist, has revealed its "impotence" everywhere in the world.

"Perhaps the most important thing Putin has noticed is that US allies do not trust it... The Russian president must have paused for a long time on American behavior towards what is happening in Yemen and Iran's aggression towards the Arab Gulf states. Whoever discovers all these American weaknesses can only work to benefit from them. There is no doubt that Vladimir Putin is a shrewd man who has manipulated Obama and is currently playing Biden."

Dr. Huda Raouf, an Egyptian political science teacher and researcher in regional and Iranian affairs, wrote that the Iranian regime has understood that the Middle East is no longer a priority for the Biden administration's policy. The Biden administration, according to Raouf, limited its view of the threats to American security to only China and Russia.

"With the sudden and uncalculated withdrawal from Afghanistan, we find that the Middle East is no longer a priority for American policy, which is what Iran finally understood... By looking at the developments of the Vienna talks, we find that the US intends to reach a reduced copy of the original 2015 agreement. So far, the Biden administration does not appear to have a comprehensive approach towards Iran. As long as the US does not negotiate with Iran about its regional behavior, it may have to build a framework with its partners and allies on their concerns regarding Iran even after the nuclear deal is revived."

Raouf noted that Iran feels that it is not being held accountable for its meddling in the internal affairs of the Arab countries.

"So far, it seems to Tehran that there is really no price to pay, as it has not been pressured about its actions in Iraq and its involvement in the wars in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. These are the most important challenges that may face the region, and there must be a mechanism for solving them. Reviving the [Iran nuclear] agreement will not change Iran's regional positions, including its support for groups such as Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen."

Lebanese editor and political activist Mustafa Fahs also expressed concern over the impending agreement. In his view, not reaching any agreement would be better than reaching a new one.

"The [upcoming] agreement seems to be a new factor of tension in the region, and not a factor of stability... The neighboring countries, especially the Arab Gulf states, cannot accept a nuclear agreement without restrictions on Iran's ballistic project and its regional influence, as fears that the agreement will be confined to the nuclear issue will lead to an escalation of regional tensions and push Tehran to invest more in its foreign projects."

In such a scenario, Fahs said, the lack of an agreement would be less harmful than reaching a new one.

"The lack of agreement will keep the conflict with Iran confined to the great powers," he added. The lack of agreement may also suit Tehran if it refuses to back down from some of its basic demands. The lack of agreement removes the specter of a confrontation [between Iran and the US]. The proposed agreement will open the door wide to crises."

Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of the Bahraini Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper, also asked whether US President Joe Biden has decided to "acquiesce" to Iran.

"Any follower of developments and current events and the positions and policies of the Biden administration will inevitably arrive at the fundamental fact that Biden has decided to acquiesce in Iran; he has decided to yield to its expansionist project, which ultimately aims to impose Iranian hegemony in the region...

"This project is linked to the terrorist and subversive role played by Iran and the forces, militias and groups affiliated with it in the Arab countries, especially Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Through these terrorist forces and groups, Iran represents a direct threat to the security and stability of Arab countries. It is sufficient for us to see terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by the Houthis [Iran-backed terrorist militia in Yemen]. This is the danger facing the Arab countries. What is important is that the issue of Iran's terrorist role in the region and the danger of its ballistic missiles is not at all on the table in the negotiations and does not receive any serious attention from America and other countries participating in the negotiations."

Zahra noted that the Gulf states had previously demanded to be partners in the negotiations, but their request was ignored by the US and the world powers.

"This simply means that there is an undeclared American message to Iran that the issue of Tehran's role in the region is not of much concern to Americans... In other words, it means that Iran and its proxies feel at liberty to do whatever they want. It is clear that the US administration has decided to succumb to the reality of Iranian being a nuclear power. It is clear that the US administration no longer cares much about the destructive terrorist role Iran is playing in the region and the capabilities it possesses that allow it to threaten Arab countries through its agents. We should expect that reaching a new agreement with Iran will mark the inauguration of a new era of escalation of the Iranian terrorist threat in the region. The Arab countries must prepare for this."

Clearly, many in the Arab world are aware of the dangers that derive from the Biden administration's anemic attitude towards Iran. These Arabs have alerted the world to the fact that they feel mortally threatened by Biden's perceived capitulation to the mullahs in Tehran and the destabilizing consequences for the region.

Most disturbing is what a growing number of Arabs are trying to warn the Biden administration about: that striking a new deal with Iran would not only embolden Iran and its terrorist proxies and endanger America's friends in the Middle East, but create calamitous turmoil, including a nuclear arms race "on steroids" in the region -- all of which would justifiably be blamed on the Biden administration. It appears that the Biden administration has chosen to ignore the likelihood of this terrifying scenario. It is a decision that is causing irreparable damage to America's credibility in the Middle East.

Moreover, as Arab analysts are saying in no uncertain terms, America and its Western allies are themselves in the sights of the mullahs in Tehran.

Worse, as with Biden's generosity to Russian President Vladimir Putin in extending the new START treaty and gifting him the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (which yesterday filed for bankruptcy), it will not buy goodwill. It will only appear as weakness and accelerate aggression against the West.

  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

 

Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/18284/biden-capitulation-iran

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