Adelson’s millions come tipped with missiles aimed at Iran

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 35 Comments
Newt Gingrich and his wife celebrate his win in South Carolina Saturday night (Photo: Matt Rourke/AP/Via Bangor Daily News).

Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina win in the Republican primary thrusts the former speaker, and his benefactor Sheldon Adelson, back into the heart of the political discussion. And while much has been made of Gingrich’s comments on Palestinians–they’re “terrorists,” an “invented people”–less attention has been paid to Gingrich’s evolving positions on Iran and Adelson’s influence on the shift.

Wired‘s Spencer Ackerman has a comic, if scary, look at Gingrich’s proposed plans to overthrow the Iranian regime. But he also notes Gingrich’s past, less hawkish position on Iran:

The irony is that Gingrich wasn’t always so bellicose. Back in 2002, he predicted that the Islamic Republic’s days were numbered, and outright dismissed the prospect of bombing. All it would take is a little diplomatic outreach to inspire Iran’s natural pro-American tendencies, he told an audience in Melbourne. “I believe you are likely to have a modernizing, democratic Iranian regime within a year or two,” he said. Call it an evolving position.

So what happened between 2002 and now? Sheldon Adelson. Beginning in 2006, the wealthy Greater Israel advocate began to pour millions of dollars into a Gingrich PAC. Acclaimed investigative journalist Wayne Barrett has more in The Daily Beast:

Gingrich also referred in the 2005 article to the threat of a nuclear Iran, but without urging any immediate American or Israeli action. While there’s no doubt this is a graver concern than it was six years ago, Gingrich said then that Iran was “believed by many countries to be secretly developing nuclear weapons.” He put this in the broader context of North Korea and Pakistan already having nukes, and Gingrich calling them and a chemical-weapon-armed Syria “hostile to Israel’s existence.” But he clearly saw it as a future threat, concluding that “another generation of continuing hatred and violence could culminate in a devastating attack” on Israel. No presidential candidate now, however, has done more saber rattling against Iran, another Adelson echo.

In Connie Bruck’s extraordinary New Yorker profile of Adelson, she reported that as early as June 2007, Adelson was so ready for war with Iran that he separated the men from the boys on the basis of their willingness to strike Iran. At a conference in Prague sponsored by his own Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, he dismissed the son of the former shah because, he told one participant, “he doesn’t want to attack Iran.” He said he liked another Iranian dissident at the conference “because he says that if we attack, the Iranian people will be ecstatic.” He attributed his own lust for an attack to his love of Israel, adding that he didn’t care what happened in Iran.

Another U.S. group Adelson bankrolled, the now defunct Freedom’s Watch, listed Iran as one of its two top concerns on its website, and enlisted Gingrich as one of its prime defenders in 2008 when NBC refused to air its ads the network branded “too political.” Gingrich went on Fox calling for an NBC boycott. In addition, Israel Hayom, the Adelson-owned newspaper in Israel that’s become its largest daily, is simultaneously beating the drums for an Iranian attack and a Gingrich nomination. In an interview with its editor, Gingrich called a possible Israeli attack on Iran “an act of self defense.”

Gingrich has become a fount of anti-Iranian ideas—sabotaging their oil supply, funding every dissident group, and even assassinating their nuclear scientists, which he proposed way back in November, long before the recent murder in the streets of Tehran.

It’s true that, even without Adelson’s millions, Gingrich would have plenty of reasons to saber-rattle at Iran, like the fact that the Republican base contains some fervent Christian Zionists licking their lips at the thought of an Iran war. But as Barrett’s piece shows, Gingrich has followed Adelson’s line on Israel and Iran after the cash the speaker received. Expect more of that hawkish line as the campaign rolls on and Adelson’s millions continue to shape the outcome.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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35 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    January 23, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I think Ol Shelly believes Newt will be the nominee and doesnt want to get left out in the cold….. And he’s probably right in his predictions.

  2. Citizen
    January 23, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Newt has also promised that his first act as POTUS would be to make Jerusalem officially a Jewish city, and our embassy would be moved there ASAP.

  3. seafoid
    January 23, 2012, 3:54 pm

    So what happened between 2002 and now?

    Khatami was defeated . And Israel followed Sharon.
    Sharon is brain dead but Adelson must be too if he wants Israel to go to war with Iran.

    Did the Baal Shem Tov ever imagine what the return to Jerusalem would actually mean? Depleted uranium and eternal war.

  4. casaananda
    January 23, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Gingrich’s life is a monument to shoddiness, personal and political. Glib he is, though, and he’s got the X’tian crazies in his pocket, too, which is hard to believe given his background. Time to leave the US permanently if this moron becomes President.

  5. seafoid
    January 23, 2012, 4:13 pm

    “Many politicians of course suffer from an excess of energy and a convenient attitude toward truth, but the emerging consensus on Gingrich was: he can’t control his instability even for selfish purposes (let alone for the common good). “He is a human hand grenade,” wrote Peggy Noonan, “who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, ‘Watch this!’” But it was Joe Scarborough, the morning talk-show host familiar with Gingrich as a fellow member of Congress in the 1990s, who found the simplest formulation: “If Newt Gingrich is the smartest guy in the room, leave that room.”

    Politically, Gingrich’s weakest point was doubtless his having taken $1.6 million from Freddie Mac—for work (he said) as a historical consultant. That association could do real harm to a cherished Republican fable: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are alleged to be the root of the evil behind the financial collapse of 2007–2008. Many of the party’s leaders, and most of the prominent right-wing talkers who are in effect the party’s coaches, have placed the FMs in a completely different category from Goldman Sachs, AIG, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and other unregulated banks and financial firms. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are routinely denounced as a mortgage scam for welfare queens—an invention of Jimmy Carter and affirmative action that finally brought down the American economy. The renewable memory of Gingrich snuffling at that trough would rob the party of a magnetic issue before the general campaign got off its first antigovernment squibs and pinwheels.

    A larger question set the Washington press corps to work. What had Newt been doing for the last fifteen years? What prospects remain, after all, for an ambitious freelance Republican after he is publicly disgraced? The answer was: plenty. Saving Lives & Saving Money (2003), Gingrich’s proposal for health care reform, in fact, shared many features of the Obama legislation—but it gave more emphasis to “predatory trial-lawyer behavior,” and took a singular interest in diabetes management. Two series of novels by Gingrich, about the War of Independence and the Civil War respectively, have moved further along in their trajectory. His most recent political seller, To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine (2011), turns out to be a religiose revision of To Renew America (1995), the bumptious manifesto that explained the rationale of the Contract with America of 1994. A more recent publication, Rediscovering God in America (2009), “Featuring the Photography of Callista Gingrich,” is a guide to D.C. heritage sites, from the Capitol and the White House to the National Archives to the war memorials and presidential monuments—an item meant to be sold in the gift shops on the Mall as a sort of earphone substitute and eventual souvenir.

    Gingrich arrived in Congress in 1979 just as C-SPAN arrived; and in those days (the earliest memories of him, for many of us) he often stood alongside Trent Lott, in a chamber otherwise empty of every entity save the camera, and exchanged remarks on the public weal and scandals of mismanagement. Gingrich was always in command, and he was tireless. He could speak at sight on all subjects. It is a voice you can tune out, but tune back in with ease; it bobs along in bite-sized clauses of nine or ten words, the informality improved and not stiffened by a decent grammatical connective tissue. He has the air of a respected first-year college teacher, giving you some of his time, and he lets you stay on after office hours. Though Gingrich’s partisan animus was never in question, his penchant for covering all bets (knowledge-wise) with extreme statements on every side of a given question ensured against the tedium of moderation. He has the cocksureness, the insularity, and the continuous need of an audience of the born autodidact.

    But Gingrich, as his supporters like to point out, is a licensed scholar. His MA thesis at Tulane on the effects of the Russian Revolution on French diplomacy (1968) ran 184 pages; his Ph.D. dissertation on postwar Belgian education policy in the Congo was nearly twice as long and relied on sources in French. The latter production comes to its first aimless but provocative paradox at the start of the third paragraph: “It would be just as misleading to speak in generalities of ‘white exploitation’ as it once was to talk about ‘native backwardness.’ We need to know what kind of exploitation, for what reasons, and at what price.” The pompous show of evenhandedness is nicely geared to approximate the thoughtless person’s idea of a thinking man.

    To Save America is replete with the phraseology of “secular oppression”; its oppressors do not merely violate the spirit of the Founders, they are “holding the Constitution hostage.” The utilitarian dispensary seems truer to Gingrich’s nature than such simulated paranoia, and besides, this is a beast with laws of its own. “Who rides the tiger can never dismount”: but it must be added that the most perilous aspect of Gingrich’s temperament is doubtless the very thing that appeals most warmly to the people who are drawn to him. He loves the speed of the ride.

  6. radii
    January 23, 2012, 4:25 pm

    Gingrich a political whore for money? say it ain’t so

    worth repeating: Adelson is m-a-f-i-a

  7. optimax
    January 23, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Randi Rhodes on her talk show the other day played a snippet of an interview with Adelson in which he said he wished he had never worn a US military uniform but had instead worn an IDF uniform, which he was proud to say his son wore. The very definition of and Israel-firster. His opponents are probably afraid they would be labeled antisemetic if they aired the clip.

    Agree with radii that Adelson is mafia. Every ethnic group has a mafia that will work with other ethnic mafias if needed but only trust their own group completely. Also believe the mafia got control of US executive branch on 11/22/1963.

    • Les
      January 23, 2012, 6:30 pm

      Adelson is a reminder that Jewish Zionists have decided on their only that the US is their second country. That Gingrich would grovel for the money is no different than Obama sending the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to grovel before Netanyahu. Perhaps the most disgusting was virtually the entire Congress groveling before Netanyahu when he their guest in May of last year. The groveling in that instance was to demonstrate to the US media branch of the Israel Lobby that Congress was happy to perform its role.

      • Les
        January 23, 2012, 6:59 pm

        “decided on their own that the US”

  8. RoHa
    January 23, 2012, 6:10 pm

    Who’s the crazy woman in the picture?

    • optimax
      January 23, 2012, 7:15 pm

      Gingrich’s bobble-head wife.

      • Djinn
        January 24, 2012, 3:04 am

        This comment is way too lowbrow for MW but I can’t help myself and there’s not much point saying to anyone here (we tend to ignore US presidential races until the challenger is decided) – how on earth did Gingrich managed to bag a single wife let alone be on his third, he looks like someone engineered him from a blend of DNA somehow extracted from the Muppets’ Statler & Waldorf

      • Kathleen
        January 24, 2012, 5:55 pm

        How do you spell Cruella Deville?

    • DICKERSON3870
      January 23, 2012, 7:22 pm

      RE: “Who’s the crazy woman in the picture?” ~ RoHa


  9. Henry Norr
    January 23, 2012, 6:35 pm

    This just in: Miriam Adelson, Sheldon’s wife, is giving Gingrich’s Super PAC another $5 million (not to be confused with Sheldon’s $5-million donation a few weeks back).

    • dahoit
      January 24, 2012, 11:23 am

      Yeah I saw that also today.10 million bucks from casino operator cash machine scams.
      Naked oligarch rich people power,thrust in our faces every day,but the people of South Carolina see nothing wrong in backing whores of Zion,find nothing wrong with spying by dual citizens and total fealty by our government in ensuring a foreign nations security while we slip beneath the waves of economic collapse,unbelievable.
      Interesting column by Paul Craig Roberts about Dr.Pauls campaign in Counterpunch,in which he details the failure of libertarians to address the concerns of Americans towards Medicare and SS,which is a major concern for our aging population,and not articulated by his campaign.

  10. pabelmont
    January 23, 2012, 7:14 pm

    Well, Newt will certainly do his best to make America fulfil the duty of all Jews (oops, I mean duty of all fundamentalist Christians) to protect Israel and help it
    [1] to start and then [2] to win
    the war of Armageddon, so that, well you all know so that * * *, end of the nasty, temporary USA and nasty temporary WORLD, and what’s mildly funny about all this is the idea (you saw me get sucked into it above) that Israel is supposed to be the country which was founded and which FUNCTIONS to protect Jews (not to need to be protected BY Jews like Adelson) (and not to end in a fiery war where everyone will be converted to become a (lovely) fundamentalist Christian (or else). If you think that will be lovely, ask an Iraqi or Afghani or elderly VietNamese

  11. DICKERSON3870
    January 23, 2012, 7:28 pm

    RE: “Adelson’s millions come tipped with missiles aimed at Iran” ~ Kane

    MY COMMENT: Just now (Monday evening) on the CBS evening news, mention was made of a $5 million donation from Adelson’s wife to the PAC supporting Gingrich. A short time later, the host pointedly asked a reporter in Florida following Gingrich why the Adelson family had contributed $10 million for Gingrich. The reporter succinctly replied that it was becase of Israel. Yes, you read that correctly, he actually used the ‘I’ word!

  12. Proton Soup
    January 23, 2012, 7:35 pm

    thing is, Newt is politically promiscuous and has an open relationship with conservative and liberal issues, with american and foreign interests. he’ll take their money, sure. but when he actually gets in there, meets with the Joint Chiefs, and they explain that it’s not just a matter of halting blockades to keep the straight open… when they explain that a few strikes to take out loading ports and processing facilities will stop the flow… and the resulting oil crisis will return the USA to a Jimmy Carter economy…

    when the consequences to Newt become apparent, there is no guarantee Newt will dance with the one who brung him. they would need some really good dirt on the guy to keep him in line, and frankly, i’m not sure you could embarrass or shame Newt. Newt is the Honey Badger of Scandal. Newt don’t care.

  13. Nevada Ned
    January 23, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Citizen, you pointed out that Gingrich promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Many US politicians have been promising this in public for decades. It has never happened. See this link

  14. ToivoS
    January 24, 2012, 1:33 am

    roha don’t be cruel. That is a formerly attractive woman whose insecurity with the aging process led her to agree to some really hideous plastic surgery. Women in their mid forties can be quite attractive, a few minor tucks here and there, some botox there can enhance their attractiveness. Unfortunately for her she has tried to achieve looks of a 20s something woman. There are charlatrons out there who sell their ability to reverse the whole aging process. Poor Calista fell for that. Given who she married, can you not understand why? He is likely to leave with the next young tart he meets.

    • dahoit
      January 24, 2012, 11:27 am

      Formerly attractive?I can’t see there from here,she looks like an alien rat species,with lipstick.

      • eljay
        January 24, 2012, 11:44 am

        >> Formerly attractive?

        I think so (pics 2 & 3).

        I was surprised to read that she’s only 45 (going on 46) – I thought she was a 60-something who’d had plastic surgery. Pity about the “plastification” of her appearance, but if she’s happy with how she looks, that’s her business.

      • ahmed
        January 25, 2012, 8:15 am

        She must be afraid of Newt moving on to a younger wife 4.0

  15. Djinn
    January 24, 2012, 3:10 am

    Women in their mid 40s *can* be attractive…phew I guess I don’t have to hide my shameful face under a rock in ten years time.

    • kma
      January 24, 2012, 2:11 pm

      “Women in their mid forties can be quite attractive” (with a few tucks and botox!)
      wow, ageism AND sexism in one comment!
      Ron Paul must be to blame. :-)

  16. Citizen
    January 24, 2012, 3:59 am

    Huffington now broke the news Henry Norr pointed out last evening–The Adelsons have now doubled their bet on Newt. Sheldon basically funded Newt’s SC ads with his $5 M donation to Newt’s superPac, and now has doanted $5 M to it for New’s Florida campaign–cash already wire-transfered.

    • ahmed
      January 25, 2012, 8:17 am

      Are super pac donations public? I wonder why they wouldn’t keep it under wraps?

  17. Citizen
    January 24, 2012, 4:20 am

    The only suggestion in the mainstream TV news and even on The Young Turks as to special interest has been Adelson’s casino business–all ignore what Newt himself said in public recently, which is that Adelson only has one interest: Israel’s survival. I guess America’s survival as America is not that important if you are running for POTUS–unless you are Ron Paul.

    My own take at the moment is Adelson just doubled down on his bet on Newt via his wife’s $5 million donation to Newt’s superPAC is cheap chump change to push all the candidates even further to the right than Bibi himself. Bill Maher had a panel and guest that were all self-defined progressives on his most recent show and they agree something has to be done about the glaring buying of America, and all agreed nobody benefits but the special interests, and in this context one guest even specifically mentioned Adelson’s donation to Newt–but no mention Adelson’s sole concern is Israel.

    • Kathleen
      January 24, 2012, 11:54 am

      Thanks for the alert about Moyers.

      Zbig rips it up on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning. Speaking about his new book “Strategic Vision.”
      Know the Mondo team and others will be very interested. I have never seen Willie Geist, Heileman listen so intently to anyone. Total silence… The MSNBC Morning Joe team really listened without interrupting. Whoa astounding

      Zbig :
      “I don’t think the (US) decline is inevitable. I think it is avoidable. But it is looming on the horizon. There is a lot of evidence for a relative decline and also an absolute decline in the American standing in the world.”

      He goes on to talk about how he is very interested in the US population being educated about world affairs. Public education about the world.

      Zbig :
      “The fact is we are a democracy we can only conduct a foreign policy that the public supports. The public in America is woefully ignorant about the world.”

      And the Israeli lobby, Israel bank on the American public either being kept in the dark about what is really going on in the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the situation with Iran. When have we ever seen Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on any of these MSM outlets? Two highly qualified scholars who know a great deal about Iran and one a former CIA middle east analyst. Both who were in Bush 43’s administration.

      Zbig warns:
      “Iran could happen between now and election day. Perhaps in the last three weeks of the elections. Because at that moment if something happens the public opinion would support military action initially”

      And we know why this is so. Because MSNBC, CNN, FOX, NPR etc have helped set the stage for an attack on Iran. They have allowed unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims to be repeated about Iran on their programs that go unchallenged. Some of the host of these shows have not only allowed unsubstantiated claims about Iran to be repeated Terri Gross repeats them herself All of these outlets refuse to educate the public about Iran by having highly qualified experts on about Iran. Instead they keep recycling the very individuals who lied this nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq.

      “I don’t want the US either stampeded into a war with Iran lets say by an Israeli attack to which the Iranians react probably more against us than against them. Or by a decision by the United States itself reminiscent of the decision to go into the pointless war with Iraq in 2003”

      This is a powerful interview with Zbig

  18. Kathleen
    January 24, 2012, 11:09 am

    Gingrich would not be in the running without Adelson’s money. Hearing that the Gingrich campaign is not as in good of shape economically as hoped. Majority of the MSNBC talking heads avoiding why Adelson has given Gingrich so much $$. Chris Matthews touched on a bit. Ed dipping his toes in just a bit.

    I just keep wondering about that CNN King bump to Gingrich. . Either King is a terrible journalist or meant to throw him that red meat and allowed him to run with it. Last night Stewart and Colbert finally did what the”elite” media have refused to do which was to nail Kings complete roll over, gift, bump to Gingrich and the raw meat eating crowd in South Carolina. Both Stewart and Colbert thumped Kings either purposeful roll over or horrible host of a debate. David Gregory gave King a little knock on the head by saying something like if you are going to throw out something like this you better come prepared. This morning on Morning Joe Santorum said King “wilted” But little to nothing out of the Scaborough, Mika, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Ed etc crowd. The media elite protecting King’s either purposeful roll over or his inability or decision to come prepared. Even a total bimbo would know what was more than likely going to be Gingrich’s response to King’s weak and open ended question. “do you want to respond” Pathetic absolutely pathetic…unless his intention or CNN’s intention was to give Gingrich a bump.
    Who are Kings bosses? And does anyone think that CNN wanted to give Gingrich that free and easy ride to Florida?

    Finally someone thumps CNN’s John King for throwing Gingrich red meat on a silver platter

  19. Kathleen
    January 24, 2012, 11:15 am

    I know Phil Weiss has dug into the ownership of MSNBC/Comcast and why host of shows roll over on Iran, the I/P issue.

    Anyone know the $$$ pyramid at CNN. Who is in control of programming line up of questions for such a debate. King’s gift to Gingrich was so obvious, so lame, so weak. You would have to be a complete idiot not to have been prepared when you opened up a debate with a weak and open ended question like that. King and CNN team know Newts history with attacks and flipping the script. Either they chose to give Gingrich that red meat free pass. Or King is an idiot. Which is it? What is CNN’s connection to the Israeli lobby, Adelson etc? Did Wolf Blitzer have any say about how King opened up that debate and the choice to roll over? So odd

    • Proton Soup
      January 24, 2012, 11:48 pm

      not sure about $$$. the two things i’m aware of are 1) Blitzer’s AIPAC lobbying you allude to, and 2) CNN’s working with Pentagon Psyops:

      of course, it’s hard to divine the whole israel/pentagon relationship atm, since the Pentagon put Israel on notice about false flag ops. between that, and the Adler incident, i actually have a bit of hope for the current situation. because it puts Israel in the precarious situation of taking the blame for whatever unfortunate incidents may happen.

  20. kma
    January 24, 2012, 1:59 pm

    regardless of the preferences for/against Israel’s “interests” by the media, doesn’t it seem likely that they do the same thing the moneyed interests all do? that is, be NICE to the next likely POTUS. or maybe it’s just cashing in during the campaign spectacle.
    wouldn’t that matter more than journalism?

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