by Whitney Webb •
Adelson’s willingness to help the GOP stay in power is likely born out of his desire to protect the massive investment he placed in the party last election cycle. In 2016, the Republican mega-donor gave heavily to the Trump campaign and Republicans, donating $35 million to the former and $55 million to the top two Republican Super PACs — the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund — during that election cycle.
Adelson’s decision to again donate tens of millions of dollars to Republican efforts to stay in power is a direct consequence of how successfully Adelson has been able to influence U.S. policy since Trump and the GOP rode to victory in the last election cycle.
A New York Times article on Adelson, titled “Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington,” notes that Adelson “enjoys a direct line to the president.” Furthermore, Adelson and Trump regularly meet once a month “in private in-person meetings and phone conversations” that Adelson has used to push major changes to U.S. policy that Trump has made reality — such as moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and cutting aid to Palestinian refugees, among others.
Adelson’s new title as the top spender in all U.S. elections shows that he, along with his wife, is willing to spend big to keep that direct line open in the months and years ahead. Citing sources close to the Adelsons, the Times writes that the Adelsons’ massive expenditures in federal elections this cycle are being made because he and his wife believe that “Republican control of the House and the Senate is so vital to maintaining these [right-wing and pro-Zionist] policies” and their influence in Washington and at the White House.
“Pleased as punch”The fact that Adelson is “pleased-as-punch” with Trump’s performance as president should hardly come as a surprise, given that the president has fulfilled his campaign promises that were of prime importance to Adelson, while many of his other campaign promises – namely those that were populist or anti-war in nature – have rung hollow.
These Adelson-promoted policies include the moving of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Adelson had aggressively promoted and even helped to finance, as well as removing the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Another recent policy move bearing Adelson’s fingerprints is the U.S. decision to withdraw its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), as Adelson once infamously stated that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.”
As previously mentioned, The New York Times recently noted that the cutting of aid to Palestinians, the U.S.’ removal from JCPOA, and the Jerusalem embassy move all resulted from private in-person meetings and phone conversations between Adelson and Trump.
Adelson has also been successful in stocking the Trump administration with politicians he has long supported as well as his confidantes. Adelson-supported appointees include Nikki Haley, long-time recipient of Adelson campaign funds who now serves as U.S. ambassador to the UN; Mike Pompeo, former CIA director who has advocated for bombing Iran and now serves as secretary of state; and John Bolton, a close confidante of Adelson, who is now national security adviser.
Adelson was also instrumental in removing Pompeo and Bolton’s predecessors, Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, from their respective posts, owing to their support for JCPOA and their alleged “anti-Israel” positions. Speculation has recently grown that Secretary of Defense James Mattis may share their fate for similarly opposing Adelson’s positions.
Yet, upon closer examination, these Adelson-driven personnel and policy moves enacted by Trump seem to merely be the foundation for the so-called “Adelson agenda,” a set of convergent goals that could potentially result in thousands of deaths in the Middle East and embroil the U.S. in yet another regime-change war.
To show that “we mean business”
While Adelson’s top-donor status has allowed him unprecedented access to the Trump administration and has resulted in dramatic changes to U.S. policy, there is every indication that the worst is yet to come. This is because, while the Adelson’s past efforts to influence Trump administration policy have had undeniably negative effects, they have yet to embroil the U.S. in another regime-change war or lead to the destruction of entire nations.
Yet, the current path the administration is treading at Adelson’s behest — particularly regarding Iran, Syria and Palestine — has the potential to unleash havoc in the Middle East and beyond, in a way not yet seen during Trump’s young presidency.
Indeed, one need only look at Adelson’s past statements on Iran to understand just how dangerous this man’s influence is to any prospect of peace in the Middle East.
As an example, during the negotiations that eventually led to the Iran nuclear deal, Adelson publicly advocated for a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran without provocation, so the U.S. could “impose its demands [on Iran] from a position of strength.”
More specifically, Adelson’s “negotiation” plan involved the U.S. dropping a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Iranian desert and then threatening to drop “the next one […] in the middle of Tehran” to show that “we mean business.” Tehran, Iran’s capital, is home to nearly 9 million people with 15 million more in its suburbs. Were Tehran to be attacked with nuclear weapons, an estimated 7 million would die within moments.
Furthermore, any sort of diplomatic engagement with Iran, according to Adelson, is “the worst negotiating tactic I could ever imagine.”
In other words, Adelson’s vision for engaging Iran considers the dropping of nuclear weapons on a country, including its heavily populated capital city — for no reason other than to show that the U.S. “means business” — a reasonable tactic.
With the Trump administration now applying “maximum pressure” to Iran, Adelson’s vision for engaging the Islamic Republic is of critical importance. For instance, if this “maximum pressure” campaign — currently a combination of draconian sanctions, bullying Iran’s trading partners, and covert CIA-driven regime-change operations — ultimately fails, Adelson is likely to push Trump towards more drastic “negotiation” tactics in order to force Iran into a “new treaty” designed by and for pro-Israel interests that seek to eliminate Iran as a regional player. Given that many entities– including Europe, China and Turkey — are rejecting U.S. calls to isolate Iran, this is a likely scenario that must be considered.
As his past statements make clear, Adelson — in such a case — is likely to pressure Trump to use military tactics, such as preemptive bombings, to force Iran to yield. Even though such a move would likely embroil Iran, the U.S. and potentially other important nations in a major war, Trump has shown that he has so far been willing to take Adelson’s “advice” regardless of consequences, including international backlash or even war.
Meet your new overlord: Adelson driving both US and Israeli policy behind the scenes
Beyond the fact that Adelson’s unprecedented influence on U.S. politics is set to create much more instability than past policies he has promoted, lies another unsettling truth: for less than $150 million — pocket change for such a plutocrat — Adelson has effectively bought the presidency and Congress. His role as top political donor has given him a “direct line” to the president and unprecedented access to the Republican party, who are beholden to his desires and whims as their paymaster.
Indeed, crossing Adelson — as shown by the high-profile firings of McMaster and Tillerson — has its steep price, and obeying Adelson now seems to be the most essential step that Trump and other Republicans must follow to stay in power.
Furthermore, Adelson is also the primary driver behind Israeli policy, given his role as a key donor to and long-time backer of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his role as owner and funder of Israel’s most widely circulated Hebrew-language newspaper, Israel Hayom. Thus, when considering critiques of U.S. politics as unduly influenced by Israel, Adelson’s role is again clear as day. If Israel is driving the U.S.’s foreign policy, it is not only because Adelson wills it but because Adelson is personally driving the policies of both the U.S. and Israel.
In 2014, a Princeton University study demonstrated that — beyond any doubt — the U.S. is an oligarchy, beholden to the interests of the rich and the powerful, not the interests of the majority of its citizens. Though the presence and power of the oligarchy is nothing new, what is notable is that a massive chunk of it is now under the control of a single individual — a man who has repeatedly shown that he has no empathy or respect for human life and is entirely on board with totalitarianism. Indeed, Adelson has made it clear time and again that he is no fan of democracy.
Americans, meet your new, unelected overlord — Sheldon Adelson — because, as long as the U.S. political system is “hostage to his fortune,” he’s not going anywhere.
THIS WORK IS LICENSED UNDER A Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License