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Biden kills pipelines at home but promotes them for the Taliban
By Michael Rubin | Washington Examiner | February 08, 2021:
On his first day in office, President Biden canceled permits for the Keystone XL pipeline. Environmentalists and anti-fossil fuel activists should not have applauded his move.
After all, Canada will not stop extracting oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta. Instead, it will simply export oil over existing pipelines or to the Pacific Ocean, where the damage from a potential spill would be harder to address. Biden’s cancellation cost jobs and pushes Canada toward greater economic cooperation with China. It also shakes confidence in U.S. business. Who would invest in the country if any future administration can simply renege on deals with the stroke of a pen? Especially, that is, when the investments involved here reach into the billions of dollars?
Biden’s move was both political theater and an indulgence of his liberal base. But his hypocrisy was stunning even for a politician who has spent a half-century in Washington. Consider that while the Biden administration is killing a pipeline from which the public could benefit, Biden is promoting a pipeline to enrich both one of the world’s worst dictatorships and a group responsible for thousands of U.S. deaths.
The government has apparently brokered a meeting between the Turkmenistan government and the Taliban for a trans-Afghanistan pipeline to bring Turkmen gas across Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. If this scheme sounds familiar, it should: It was the same deal that now-Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad sought to make with the Taliban in the years before the Sept. 11 terror attacks when he was a consultant for the Unocal Corporation.
Khalilzad’s scheme was bad policy two decades ago, and it is even worse now.
Put aside environmental arguments and consider profit. Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report ranks Turkmenistan as among the world’s worst offenders, below even North Korea in terms of freedom and civil liberties. To promote the export of Turkmen gas is to entrench its regime even further. Part of the deal is then paying the Taliban protection money or transit fees for the pipeline transiting Afghan territory. Not only would this undermine the elected Afghanistan government even further, but it would also reward the Taliban for insurgency to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each month. Who needs Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers when the State Department has crafted a scheme to reward the Taliban beyond their wildest dreams?
One issue here is Khalilzad’s penchant for using diplomacy as a stepping stone to cut side deals. But the other issue is U.S. strategic interests. Perhaps a misunderstanding of the Taliban agenda was an excuse 20 years ago. It should not be one now. If the Biden administration says no to pipeline jobs in the Midwest, it should not then turn around and help enrich the Taliban to ship Turkmen gas to the Indian Ocean. It is time for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to call his envoy, end this hypocrisy, and to stop coddling some of the world’s most anti-American movements.
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