“Let’s support our allies, not our enemies”
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seems largely unimpressed by President Biden’s foreign policy.
Interviewed at the 3rd Southeast Europe and East Med conference held in Washington March 14-15, the senator said he was “deeply disappointed in the way the State Department dealt with our allies in the region regarding the viability of the EastMed pipeline.”
EastMed was the planned 1,180-mile natural gas pipeline across the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to southern Europe that the Biden administration killed in January. The pipeline, expected to cost $7 billion and to carry at least 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year, would ease Europe’s reliance on Russian oil. Sen. Menendez, who has long supported the project and co-sponsored the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, wants the U.S. to rethink supporting the EastMed pipeline.
President Biden gave up on EastMed after approving the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would have increased Germany’s dependence on Russia. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany and other Europeans began to see the folly of relying on Russia.
One might have thought President Biden too would see that relying on one’s enemies is imprudent. One would have been wrong.
The Biden administration went hat in hand to Venezuela and is now trying to rush through a new bad deal with Iran, in order to increase supply and lower oil prices. Biden also reached out to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, a traditional ally whose leader Biden had previously spurned, and the United Arab Emirates, but neither would take his phone calls. Both are deeply worried about Iran and the administration’s eagerness for a rapprochement with it; or at least, about U.S. unwillingness to hold Iran to account.
Menendez favors relying on our friends rather than our enemies: “[W]ith the emergency of the moment, I’d rather not be looking at Venezuela, I’d rather not be looking at Iran, I’d rather not be looking at all these other countries when we have allies like Greece in the region, like Israel and others that can maybe be the source of that energy.”
The democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people, like the resolve & courage of the people of Ukraine, are worth much more than a few barrels of oil. My statement on the Admin's reported talks with VZ breathing new life into Maduro's reign of torture: https://t.co/3U4x6nGsLP
— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) March 8, 2022
I urge Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Poland to immediately transfer Soviet era-built fighter jets to the Ukrainian air force as it defends civilians under aerial assault from Russia. pic.twitter.com/K8M9NbkQEk
— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) March 5, 2022
Speaking of our friends, the senator applauded NATO’s past success in underpinning the peace and prosperity of the past 75 years, and recent efforts to strengthen the alliance. “I welcome European engagement in meeting its security needs. I welcome the German decision now to spend 2% of GDP to move in that direction… our best way to achieve that goal of European defense is what has been successful for 75 years: strengthening NATO and meeting that obligation.”
And speaking of NATO and of EastMed, in killing the latter, Biden was reportedly motivated at least partly by a desire to please Turkey, which was trying to muscle its way into any pipeline project.
This is the same Turkey that bought a Russian S-400 air-defense system, although it’s part of NATO. The U.S. responded by barring Turkey from buying F-35 aircraft it wanted. (Per Reuters, the U.S. suggested Turkey solve the problem by shipping the S-400 system to Ukraine.)
It’s the same Turkey that illegally invaded and partitioned Cyprus in 1974, and now demands a cut of the pipeline planned from Israel to Cyprus, then Greece and beyond. As people said of France under De Gaulle, with friends like this, the U.S. sure doesn’t need enemies.
Sen. Menendez supports a tough stance against Turkey. Their S-400 system must go, he said. “If Turkey wants to act in a way that ultimately is befitting a true NATO partner, if Turkey wants to act in a way that observes international law, that doesn’t violate the sovereign rights of its neighbor Greece and its territorial waters and airspace, that doesn’t continue to [occupy the area captured in the] invasion of the northern part of Cyprus, and that respects the exclusive economic zones of its neighbors, that’s a different story.” Otherwise, “I do not see [Congress approving] sales of F-16s to Turkey.”
The senator, who is a Democrat, carefully avoided mentioning President Biden during the interview, although he did mention disappointment with the State Department. Nevertheless, his disapproval of administration policies is clear.DONATE
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