Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Further Reflections on Bibi’s Speech and His Friends

LobeLog

It’s been an intense week highlighted by Netanyahu’s eagerly anticipated speech before a joint session of Congress, minus at least 57 members. That was followed by the procedural overreach of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and then by CNN’s breaking story that Bibi’s chief Democratic champion in the Senate, Robert Menendezwill soon be indicted on corruption charges. Although the Bibi bubble seemed to burst (or at least disappear) once he had left town, the latter two events may have made the week a net negative for proponents of negotiations-sabotaging legislation, assuming that the P5+1 and Iran succeed in forging a framework agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program by or about March 24.

There were many things that were irritating about Bibi’s speech, not least his use of Elie Wiesel (and thus the Nazi Holocaust) as a stage prop. The particular circumstances were, of course, heavy with irony, not least Netanyahu’s invocation of the Book of Esther (which ends with the slaughter of 75,000 gentiles at the behest of the Jewish heroine—a detail conveniently omitted by the prime minister).

Another key guest in the gallery seats close to Wiesel went unmentioned—Sheldon Adelson. The multi-billionaire has offered his own plan for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: halt negotiations; demonstrate the destructive impact of a nuclear weapon by exploding one in a theoretically uninhabited Iranian desert; if the regime doesn’t then surrender their program, detonate another in the heart of Tehran. What, one wonders, would Wiesel say to that? (Especially in view of his participation in the utterly repulsive campaign of Rabbi Schmuley Boteach whose most recent full-page New York Times ad’s headline was: “Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide – Both the Jewish people’s and Rwanda’s.”)

Adelson’s presence provoked Bill Moyers to write a trenchant commentary about the state of U.S. politics today, focusing on a very important point contained in its title: “Netanyahu Speaks, Money Talks.” The essence:

There you have it: Not only is this casino mogul the unofficial head of the Republican Party in America (“he with the gold rules”), he is the uncrowned King of Israel — David with a printing press and checkbook instead of a slingshot and a stone. All of this came to the fore in Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday: the US cannot determine its own policy in the Middle East and the majority in Congress are under the thumb of a foreign power.

A related must-read article, “The Nexus of Binyamin Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson, and the Nonprofit Sector,” appeared this week on the eve of Netanyahu’s speech in the Nonprofit Quarterly. It stressed Adelson’s chairmanship of the Republican Jewish Coalition “whose huge board includes Adelson plus Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus, homebuilder Larry Mizel, former Hawaiian governor Linda Lingle, and former Bush administration officials Ari Fleischer and Josh Bolten.” It also noted that Adelson had reportedly financed Boteach’s unsuccessful run for Congress with more than $500,000 and his convening last year of likely Republican presidential candidates at his Venetian resort hotel in Las Vegas “to vet their attitudes toward Israel,” the so-called “Adelson primary.”

It all goes to show that in addition to having contributed reportedly (with his wife Miriam) as much as $150 million in campaign contributions during the 2012 election cycle and gearing up for another massive campaign finance commitment in the 2016 election, Sheldon Adelson through nonprofit and quasi-nonprofit vehicles has tentacles that reach from American politics into Israeli politics too, setting the stage for Netanyahu’s controversial speech and exacting a political price from those who might see it as improper.

Also in the gallery, sitting two rows behind Wiesel and a little to the left was Bill Kristol whose Weekly Standard blog published a real howler after Bibi’s speech (“Iran’s Deadly Strategy”), which, among other assertions, insisted that the “fanatical Mullahs who rule Iran consider Christianity (and all non-Islamic faiths) as heresies that must be eradicated.” Kristol wrote his own fawning tribute, “Speaking for Israel – And America,” which won’t do much to deflate anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalties.

Given the sequence of events and announcements that preceded Netanyahu’s visit here, not to mention the seating arrangements in the gallery during his speech, it seems very clear that Adelson and Kristol work closely together. And, although the two of them are unlikely to have the power to choose who the 2016 Republican nominee will be, it is highly unlikely that the nominee will be someone of whom they disapprove. That means Rand Paul specifically for now; but anyone who doesn’t offer at least rhetorical support for positions taken by Bibi’s Likud Party and to its right is going to have a very difficult time getting nominated.

Meanwhile, if you want to read a really impressive analysis of Netanyahu’s appearance and motivations and the state of play and likely playing out of the P5+1 negotiations, I highly recommend a blog post by Suzanne Maloney, the Brookings Institution’s top Iran analyst, “Bibi and the Bogeyman: What Drives Opposition Is Not the Details of a Nuclear Deal, But Iran’s Rehabilitation.” (She always seems so much better grounded and consistent than her spouse and fellow-Iran expert, Ray Takeyh, who just moved from the Council on Foreign Relations to the neo-conservative Hudson Institute.) Also not to be missed this week is Gary Sick’s concise review of Bibi’s speech.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

On August 16, 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the Iran Action Group (IAG). It would “be responsible for directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects of the State Department’s Iran-related activity, and it will report directly to me,” he stated. Amid speculation that the Donald Trump administration was focused on…


Norm Coleman is a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government, chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and former senator from Minnesota, known for hawkish, pro-Likud, and anti-Iran foreign policy views.


The millionaire pastor of the Cornerstone Church in Texas, John Hagee argues that U.S. support for Israel will play a “a pivotal role in the second coming” of Jesus. He has also risen to new prominence during the Trump administration.


Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian who served as a chief aide and speechwriter in the George W. Bush White House, is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post and one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics on the right, calling him an “unhinged president.”


Robert Kagan, a cofounder of the Project for the New American Century, is a neoconservative policy pundit and historian based at the Brookings Institution.


Mira Ricardel, former weapons marketer for Boeing, is the deputy national security adviser under John Bolton. She is a well-known foreign policy hawk who has served in key positions in the administration of George W. Bush and, earlier, in the office of former Senator Robert Dole (R-KS).


Fred Fleitz left his role as chief of staff at the National Security Council under John Bolton to succeed notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney as president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Although a widespread movement has developed to fight climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster — yet.


U.S. supporters of Israel are in a bind: public opinion is changing; there are more actors publicly challenging Israel; and the crude, heavy-handed tactics they have successfully used in the past to silence criticism now only aggravate the situation.


As the civilian death toll from Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen grows and the backlash against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in Khashoggi’s murder escalates, former Sen. Norm Coleman’s control of Republican Party campaign purse strings positions him as a key influencer of Republican congressional action, or inaction, in curtailing the increasingly aggressive and reckless actions of Saudi Arabia.


Increasingly, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are positioned as rivals, each with pretensions to Middle Eastern influence or even hegemony. It’s not clear whether they can continue to coexist without one or the other—or both—backing down. This has made it more difficult for the United States to maintain its ties with both countries.


What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing — and arguably quite a lot.


The Donald Trump administration’s handling of nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia promises to lay bare some realities about security issues and nuclear programs in that part of the world that the administration has refused to acknowledge.


Eminent U.S. foreign policy expert Stephen Walt’s new book critique’s the “liberal hegemony” grand strategy that has dominated U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.


RightWeb
share