Two days ago NPR interviewed Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, about why the U.S. is pursuing a different strategy/policy with North Korea than with Iran when it comes to nuclear weapons. Haass was frank about the double standard: Iran can’t have nukes, but we can live with North Korea’s.
The administration would seem more comfortable with a significant North Korean nuclear capability than it would with an Iran that had no capability.
Haass said one reason for the difference is, North Korea has a powerful protector in China, and Iran doesn’t:
The problem [for Iran] is Iran does not have the equivalent of a China in its corner in the same way that North Korea does.
Alright, but what about the fact that Iran’s regional rival, Israel, has what North Korea has: a superpower “in its corner,” the U.S. As a result, Israel has nuclear weapons, no questions asked. Israel regularly exerts its influence in US policymaking circles to the point that President Obama said it would be an “abrogation” of his constitutional duty to consider Israel’s interests over the U.S. when it comes to Iran. And we are constantly told that Iran threatens the U.S., when its adversary is Israel.
Israel and its influential U.S. lobby went unmentioned in the NPR interview. They couldn’t say that Trump’s largest donor, Sheldon Adelson, is a huge Israel supporter, and has urged the U.S. to nuke Iran. The press does not like to touch on the Adelson angle for fear of stoking anti-Semitism. So NPR interviewer Mary Louise Kelly and Haass said Trump’s harsh stance on Iran was because he wants to undo Obama’s legacy.
Sheldon Adelson is everywhere. He hosted Trump in Las Vegas this spring. He attended the Florida governor on his trip to occupied territories last month, which surely had 2020 purposes. He was at the opening of the embassy last year. His wife won the presidential medal of freedom in February. Three days ago the Adelsons were alongside Trump’s Middle East envoys when they took part in that grotesque celebration of an archaeological dig in occupied Jerusalem. The Times noted their presence, “the billionaire Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson,” but said little more about their agenda. Though Adelson has been working in US politics to destroy the idea of a Palestinian state for more than 20 years, and doing so successfully.
Michelle Goldberg leaves Adelson out of her New York Times column on “warmonger” national security adviser John Bolton. But Bolton is Adelson’s boy. Back in 2016, the NYT said Bolton “enjoys a powerful ally in Sheldon Adelson.” And though Bolton was kept out of the White House for the first year and more of the administration because Trump reportedly didn’t like him, Bolton got to advise the president by calling him from Las Vegas– on Sheldon Adelson’s phone, Politico reported.
Michelle Goldberg also seeks to preserve the reputation of neoconservatives. They mean so well.
Bolton is sometimes described as a neoconservative, but that’s not really right. Neoconservatives purported to champion the expansion of American values, while Bolton just wants to impose American might.
But Bolton was long identified with the neocon movement. And whether they want to “champion the expansion of American values,” neocons believe in the imposition of American might. They wanted large military budgets specifically to stand by Israel back in the 70s, they told us Israel’s war with terrorists was our fight. They openly supported regime change.
Here is the neocons’ thrilling call to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein after 9/11, no matter what he’d done.
But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.
Speaking of supporters of the Iraq war, NY Rep. Eliot Engel says the U.S. shouldn’t go to war with Iran, because we got “burned” in Iraq. He spoke at the Jerusalem Post conference last month:
Now I’m not advocating a war because I think we went into wars in Iraq and other places frankly, and we were burned. So we have to be very very careful, to balance it. We cannot allow Iran to continue its malevolent activities. We cannot allow Iran to continue unabated to do the things they’re prone to do.
Engel also said the US should have gone to war in Syria.
Frankly I think that we mishandled Syria to a very large degree. What has happened there breaks my heart. You have Assad being the butcher of hundreds of thousands of his own people, it’s just absolutely disgraceful. And when we had the opportunity to really go after him, we didn’t do that. You know the Free Syria Army… five six seven years ago, came to us and they were winning on the battlefield, and they asked us for help and myself and others tried to get that. And we could never quite attain it, because everyone assumed, well, Assad’s going to fall on his own. It’s not going to happen. And with Russia there to back him, and doing all kinds of things it’s really a problem.