Sheldon Adelson has given his first interview on Syria to the National Journal. He offers President Obama his help in what would be “the most unusual marriage of political convenience“:
“I would be willing to help out the administration because I believe it’s the right thing to do. He is our only – we don’t have any other commander in chief,” he said.
The comments are Adelson’s first public remarks on the Syria situation, although the Republican Jewish Coalition, an advocacy group that he chairs, did support a Syria strike last week. His offer of a helping hand comes as Russia floated a diplomatic solution in which Damascus would cede its chemical weapons to avoid a strike, something Obama called a potential “breakthrough” on Monday.
For Adelson, Israel has long been a defining issue (he owns the nation’s biggest-circulation paper). He said he worries about missiles, and chemical and biological weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah. And he sees the potential that America might back down after Obama drew a “red line” against use of chemical weapons in Syria as poor precedent – in the Middle East and beyond. “I wouldn’t want to see North Korea come down and trample on South Korea because they think they can do it with impunity. And the same thing with Iran and Israel, and Iran and Europe,” he said.
Besides protecting Israel from Iran, Adelson says he has another interest as well (cue Godwin’s Law):
“I come down on gas not being used,” Adelson said. “Jewish people have a history of gas killing off their people, and although it was done in a different way, I don’t want anybody to be killed, particularly innocent people, women and children, older people. Somebody goes out and carries a rifle and starts shooting – they’re fair game. But innocents shouldn’t be targeted.”