News & Politics

Romney's Need for Cash Fuels Lust for Iran War

Mitt Romney's neoconservative comments on Iran are partly a ploy to appeal to donors like Sheldon Adelson, who is hell-bent on bombing Iran.

President Barack Obama pushed back Sunday nightagainst Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public disagreements with the U.S. over what to do about Iran’s nuclear program. The Romney campaign then immediately hammered Obama for his Israel comments on CBS' 60 Minutes--thus proving Obama’s point, who questioned whether Romney wants to start "another war.”

The Romney campaign’s statement was only the latest reminder that their candidate is willing to use the presidential campaign to push for another war in the Middle East, all for some more votes and, most importantly, cash.

When CBS News’ Steve Kroft asked Obama whether he was feeling “pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign,” Obama said: “When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there.” Kroft’s question was a reference to Netanyahu’s public campaign to press the U.S. to draw an explicit “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program.

The "red line" is for what would trigger military action against Iran, a move that could cause a catostrophic regional war. For Netanyahu, the “red line” that would trigger Israeli military action is Iranian “nuclear capability”--a loose term with a nebulous definition. President Obama's "red line" for military action would be crossed if Iran attained an actual nuclear weapon, though the U.S. has already initiated devastating sanctions and cyberwarfare on Iran under the Obama administration.

Obama’s pushback on Netanyahu prompted the Romney campaign to send out a statement blasting Obama and siding with the Israeli leader over the president. “Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region,’” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement published by CNN.

It was the latest example of Romney’s neoconservative worldview. The comments surely reflect the influence of his advisors, many of whom come out of the Bush-era foreign policy brain trust. But they’re also a way to appeal to the likes of Sheldon Adelson, whose number one concern is Israel. Politico’s big profile of Adelson is a reminder of why Romney’s ramping up the war rhetoric.

Adelson has spent “$70 million to sway a presidential election, and he plans to spend more — perhaps as much as $100 million — by Election Day,” Politico’s Mike Allen reports. And why? “If Romney were elected, Adelson would have a powerful ally on the two issues he cares most about: the security and prosperity of Israel, and opposition to unions,” states Politico.

Included under the rubric of “security and prosperity of Israel” is support for Israel’s hard-line stance against Iran’s nuclear energy program, despite the fact that Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. Adelson’s line on Iran was chronicled in a Daily Beast article by Wayne Barrett.

“In Connie Bruck’s extraordinaryNew 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,’” Barrett notes. “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] Israel Hayom, the Adelson-owned newspaper in Israel that’s become its largest daily, is...beating the drums for an Iranian attack.”

Romney’s war posturing aligns with Adelson’s lust for a war on Iran. And at a time when the Romney campaign is reportedly in debt and in need of some more fundraising help, Adelson’s donations to pro-Romney Super PACs doing the campaign’s dirty work is all the more important.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.