On Tuesday May 27, 2014 from 9AM-5PM, Ralph Nader and the Center for Study of Responsive Law will be hosting a free all day event on war, civil liberties and crony capitalism at Carnegie Institute of Washington at 1530 P Street NW Washington, D.C. Registration begins at 8:30 AM. Many speakers familiar to readers of Antiwar.com will be part of panels on defense budgets and empire: Daniel McCarthy, Medea Benjamin, Chris Preble, Bruce Fein, Ron Unz and many more. RSVP to Matthew Marran at email@example.com.
That’s really the only word that comes to mind after reading Dana Milbank’s account today of the recent GOP pilgrimage to Sin City to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson, the 9th richest man in the world, and quite possibly the most ideologically driven of them all. That’s not to say he can pick winners. Remember, Sheldon bombed as kingmaker in the 2014 elections (in fact, most people believe he actually blew the Republicans’ chances in the race entirely). He chose to plow $16 million of his personal coin into Republican has-been Newt Gingrich, who, let’s be serious, only runs for president these days to bolster his own marketing and fundraising schemes. The only effect was to injure Mitt Romney in the primary. Romney never fully recovered, and lost terribly to President Obama in November, despite of an infusion of Adelson cash later on. As they say, ‘heck of a job.
But that hasn’t stopped the first crop of 2016 nominee wannabes from jumping to Adelson’s whistle: Republican Party players John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Scott Walker spent the weekend kowtowing like sops in a display Hollywood couldn’t have sketched out better. Mindful of their party’s family values, no doubt, they guilelessly delivered themselves up to the mogul of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation empire, square in the epicenter of blackjack and booze, prostitutes and pleasure. Milbank :
Adelson was hosting the Republican Jewish Coalition at his Venetian hotel and gambling complex, and the would-be candidates paraded themselves before the group, hoping to catch the 80-year-old casino mogul’s eye. Everybody knows that, behind closed doors, politicians often sell themselves to the highest bidder; this time, they were doing it in public, as if vending their wares at a live auction.
Adelson has bestowed great generosity on Republicans — $150 million in post-Citizens United cash to their candidates and causes during the last presidential election cycle — but clearly only those that adhere to his own fervently hawkish views on the Middle East. Adelson is unabashed defender of Israel who, according to The New York Times, “opposes any territorial compromise to make way for a Palestinian state.” He is openly Islamophobic, saying at one point that “not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists,” and defending Gingrich with vigor when the former Speaker of the House famously declared Palestinians “an invented people.”
Adelson has been known to underwrite congressional boondoggles to Israel, helping to shape their views on foreign policy. His attempt at influencing outcomes doesn’t end at the border. In 2007, according to The New York Times, Adelson started a free daily newspaper widely viewed as supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “a close friend who shares his hawkish outlook.” The NYT also noted that at one point, Adelson was rumored to be calling for the ouster of Condoleezza Rice from the Bush Administration because she — and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — were “betraying Israel.”
Anything close to an Adelson foreign policy in the White House would be a nightmare, and most likely everyone knows it but that hasn’t kept power-desperate Republicans from taking his money. Aside from the millions he wasted on Gingrich, he’s sprinkled millions on other hawks, like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor, too.
And he’s known as a street fighter — aside from making his fortune in one of the most predatory and exploitive industries there is, in 2013 Adelson admitted he “might” have violated federal bribery laws during an ongoing investigation of his dealings with the Chinese. Adelson owns five of Macau’s 35 casinos (including the biggest, the Venetian Macau) and reportedly wants a much bigger imprint on the Chinese mainland. Investigators want to know more amid a number lawsuits alleging that Adelson bribed officials to exploit Macau, and to pursue his commercial interests in Beijing. According to Wikipedia, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands brought in $4.2 billion in Macau-generated revenue in 2011 alone.
Many have sued Adelson, but not all win. According to The New York Times, his own sons sued him, alleged he cheated them, but they lost. Meanwhile Adelson is always suing others, and sometimes he wins. He filed a libel suit against a Las Vegas newspaper columnist, John L. Smith, who eventually had to declare bankruptcy. He won a libel suit against the Daily Mail of London in 2008. The newspaper had accused him of pursuing “despicable business practices” and having “habitually and corruptly bought political favour.” Adelson said it was “a grave slur” on his “personal integrity and business reputation”, and he won a judgment of approximately £4 million as a result.
He filed a similar suit against a Wall Street Journal writer in 2012 who called him “a scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working-class Dorchester, Mass.”
Adelson may have a team of lawyers to defend his name in the courtroom, and he may be able to call in the chits when he wants to massage or push legislation his way on the Hill, but delivering the next president is a fantasy he will likely never see realized. His zealousness appears to cloud his vision when it comes to picking favorites, and his favorites risk looking tawdry and bought when they take his money. And my, they look really foolish when they beg for it. According to Milbank:
Walker, the Wisconsin governor, pandered unabashedly by giving the Hebrew meaning of his son Matthew’s name and by mentioning that he displays a menorah at home along with the Christmas tree. And Christie, the New Jersey governor, gushed about his trip to Israel and the “occupied territories.”
That was a gaffe. Pro-Israel hawks consider the term pejorative and, at any rate, the more relevant occupied territory at the moment is the Republican Party — wholly occupied by billionaires.
But will they occupy the White House? If this kind of behavior is any indication, the answer is no.
The “innies” — like Mr. Panetta for example — know perfectly well Iran’s government has no nuclear weapons program. But almost certainly because the U.S. Government often marches to Israel’s drumbeat, it’s clear Mr. Panetta is reluctant to reveal that inconvenient truth. Chuck Hagel did reveal it. Which is one reason his appointment as Defense Secretary is being held up.
[PANETTA:] They’re developing and enriching uranium. …
TODD: Why do you believe they’re doing that?
MR. PANETTA: I think– I think the– it’s a clear indication they say they’re doing it in order to develop their own energy source. I think it is suspect that they continue to– to enrich uranium because that is dangerous, and that violates international laws… —Meet The Press, February 3, 2013
And it’s no more dangerous for Iran to enrich uranium this way than for any other country which wants to produce nuclear-electric power. The U.S. for example.
TODD: And you do believe they’re probably pursuing a weapon, but you don’t– the intelligence doesn’t know what…
MR. PANETTA: I– no, I can’t tell you because– I can’t tell you they’re in fact pursuing a weapon because that’s not what intelligence says we– we– we’re– they’re doing right now. But every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability. And that’s a concern, and that’s what we’re asking them to stop doing. —Meet The Press, February 3, 2013
So, exposed to even the feeble light of U.S. Main Stream Media, Mr. Panetta had to tell the truth. Again. So he reluctantly admits, “I can’t tell you they’re in fact pursuing a weapon because that’s not what intelligence says.” That would be all 16 official branches of the U.S. Intelligence Community, including his own C.I.A. that are telling him that — with unanimous “high confidence.”
None the less, Mr. Panetta insists that “every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability?” So, Mr. Panetta, your HUNCH is better than the carefully evolved high confidence conclusions of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies? Really?
And Mr. Panetta goes on, “that’s what we’re asking them to stop doing.” In other words, “we’re asking them to stop doing what we know they’re not doing.”
It’s this sort of obtuse double talk that gets politicians elected, bureaucrats like Mr. Panetta into lofty positions — and Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Defense Secretary held up by Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and the rest of Israel’s Amen Corner.
Iran to Allow Nuclear Inspectors Into Secret Military Complex
Iran has announced it will allow international nuclear inspectors to visit its secret Parchin military complex. Iran has long said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, but some international analysts have speculated Iran may be using the Parchin complex to do research relevant to nuclear weapons. It is not clear when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit the site. –Democracy NOW! HEADLINES, March 06, 2012
SEYMOUR HERSH: …let me say again, there is no evidence that our intelligence community or even the Israeli intelligence community has — and I know that firsthand — suggesting that there’s an ongoing bomb program. So we are now — the United States is now in the position of increasing sanctions and pressuring all sorts of economic pressure on the Iranians to stop — the whole purpose of the economic sanctions is to stop the Iranians from making a bomb that we know they’re not making.–Training Terrorists in Nevada: Seymour Hersh on U.S. Aid to Iranian Group Tied to Scientist Killings
So everyone, including U.S. and Israeli intelligence, knows that the Iranian government isn’t trying to make a bomb. Unless a seriously careless Iranian scientist slips on a banana peel and pushes the wrong 10,000 buttons in exactly the right sequence, there’s little chance Iran — which, unlike Israel with its estimated 100 secret nukes, has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — will build even one bomb.
How hard can it be to stop someone from doing something they’re not doing? So, is the War Party candidates’ mutual promise to the government of Israel to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear bomb the easiest campaign promise?
Or, as with Kennedy and the nuclear arms race, Iraq, and now Iran, is THIS the main danger – – –
“It is not civilizations that promote clashes. They occur when old-fashioned leaders look for old-fashioned ways to solve problems by rousing their people to armed confrontation.” –Kenichi Ohmae, The End Of The Nation State, (New York: The Free Press 1995), p. 11.
Why of course the people don’t want war. … That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along –Head Nazi Hermann Goering
Mr. Bertie Felstead: “A German began singing All Through The Night, then more voices joined in and the British troops responded with Good King Wencelas… the next morning, all the soldiers were shouting to one another, “Hello Tommy, Hello Fritz” … The Germans started it, coming out of their trenches and walking over to us. Nobody decided for us – we just climbed over our parapet and went over to them, we thought nobody would shoot at us if we all mingled together… There wouldn’t have been a war if it had been left to the public. We didn’t want to fight but we thought we were defending England.” England’s Oldest Man Remembers The 1915 Christmas Truce
People do not make wars; governments do.–U.S. President Ronald Reagan
Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. …The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose–especially their lives. …the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die. That is their motto … The Anti-war Speech That Earned Eugene Debs 10 Years in Prison, Socialist Party convention in Canton, Ohio, 16 June 1918
By contrast, where wars DON’T come from:
…we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came…They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. –Crazy Horse/Tashunkewitko
The Aztec strategy of war was based on the capture of prisoners by individual warriors, not on working as a group to kill the enemy in battle. By the time the Aztecs came to recognize what warfare meant in European terms, it was too late. –Aztec
New England’s first Indian war, the Pequot War of 1636-37, provides a case study of the intensified warfare Europeans brought to America. Allied with the Narragansetts, traditional enemies of the Pequots, the colonists attacked at dawn. … The slaughter shocked the Narragansetts, who had wanted merely to subjugate the Pequots, not exterminate them. The Narragansetts reproached the English for their style of warfare, crying, “It is naught, it is naught, because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” In turn, Capt. John Underhill scoffed, saying that the Narragansett style of fighting was “more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies.” Underhill’s analysis of the role of warfare in Narragansett society was correct, and might accurately be applied to other tribes as well. Through the centuries, whites frequently accused their Native allies of not fighting hard enough.-James W. Loewen, LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME, (New York, NY: Touchstone 1996), p. 118
OK, this is the first anniversary of the U.S. apparently killing someone with a long beard in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The new spin is that Mr. Obama, making a "gutsy call," took the high-risk course of sending in "boots on the ground" rather than using a drone.
Aside from Mr. Obama being "gutsy" because he told folks to go do something dangerous, well, heck, go jump off a bridge. Now I’M gutsy. Right?
But never mind, the reason given makes sense — they wanted to be able to prove the guy they murdered really was THE Osama bin Laden. Rather than, say, a body double or case of mistaken identity.
So, then, why did they bury the body at sea where no one could make sure it was THE bin Laden? And why shoot the highest-value information-laden target of all time in the head immediately, before he could talk, especially since he wasn’t armed and didn’t resist. And they still don’t want to release photos because, well – – – – ah – – –