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Trump Stuck Between Ending Endless Wars and his Hawkish Megadonors

By Eli Clifton | Responsible Statecraft | December 4, 2019

President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to withdraw the United States from its ongoing wars in the Middle East, and avoid the kind of military adventurism, like the Iraq war, that has destabilized the region. Trump’s track record, however, is largely detached from his promises — a disconnect perhaps at least partially explained by his largest campaign contributors’ consistent advocacy for U.S. military action in the Middle East and support for starting a preventive war with Iran.

Trump appears to understand that the American public is largely supportive of ending the endless wars in Afghanistan and the greater Middle East. “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said Trump in his 2019 State of the Union Address to bipartisan applause. But Trump’s actions haven’t lined up with his words. Despite his reckless Syria withdrawal announcement and blessing a Turkish invasion into northern Syria, total U.S. troop levels there are expected to remain at around 900, a small reduction from the 1,000 soldiers in Syria at the time of Trump’s announcement. Meanwhile, despite Trump’s repeated claims that he’ll end the war in Afghanistan, U.S. troops will stay there “for several more years,” as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said last month.

Trump tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and a mission creep in Syria that’s expanded stated U.S. goals from containing ISIS to an “effort to push back against Iran,” according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are also a far cry from moving away from Middle East military adventurism, as Trump has always said he wants to do.

Yet as a candidate for president, Trump talked a different game. At that time he broke with GOP/neocon orthodoxy on Iran and Israel. Then, his main critique of the Iran deal wasn’t its very existence — as was and is often the right-wing attack line — but that the Iranians weren’t buying enough commercial airliners from American companies, and instead spending more in Europe. And in another move that firmly put him on his own in the race, Trump even committed to being a “neutral” party on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of that changed, however, as Trump drew closer to clinching the nomination and as he turned to some of the Republican Party’s biggest donors to fund his general election efforts — thus evaporating his claim of being a “self-funded” candidate.

Three GOP megadonors, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Paul Singer, and Bernard Marcus contributed more than a quarter-of-a-billion-dollars to boost Trump’s 2016 campaign and support Republican congressional and senate campaigns in 2016 and 2018.

Candidate Trump even warned that the money from the biggest of these donors, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, comes with strings attached. In 2015, Trump mocked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for pursuing Adelson’s endorsement and financial support, saying, “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”

Adelson, and his wife Miriam, are the GOP’s biggest donors, and they’re relatively transparent about why they are engaged in politics. The Adelsons contributed $35 million to the Future 45 Super PAC that supported Trump’s presidential bid and spent $205 million on GOP Republican House and Senate races in the past two political cycles.

Sheldon Adelson has a history of using his ties to U.S. politicians to shape U.S. foreign policy. In 2001, Adelson reportedly curried favor with the Chinese leadership and helped secure his casino license in Macau by calling Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), then the House majority whip, and persuading him to halt Republican opposition to Beijing’s Olympic bid.

And those views can take an extreme militarist tone regarding U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Adelson publicly advocated launching a preventive nuclear attack on Iran as a negotiating tactic and following up with a threat to nuke Tehran, a city with a population of over 8 million, if Iran did not abandon its nuclear program. The Adelsons pushed the Trump White House to fulfill a campaign pledge of relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and bankrolled efforts to push out then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster and replace him with John Bolton, who would take a harder line on Iran and oversee U.S. abrogation from the Iran nuclear deal.

Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus — who contributed $7 million to groups supporting Trump’s candidacy, over $13 million in campaign contributions supporting GOP House and Senate races in 2016, and nearly $8 million to GOP midterm campaigns in 2018 — also made clear that his political engagement is driven by a militarist worldview.

In 2015, Marcus slammed the Obama administration’s efforts to negotiate constraints on Iran’s nuclear program, because, he said, Iran “is the devil.” Marcus even once accused Holocaust victims of being weak and submissive in the face of their own mass murder in concentration camps, which he also referred to as “detention centers” and “concentration centers.” The Israelis, said Marcus, “weren’t like the other Jews” and “didn’t walk into the ghettos, didn’t walk into the concentration camps, didn’t walk into the ovens.”

Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer had set himself apart from Marcus and Adelson, and was the biggest Republican megadonor to identify with the “never Trump” wing — that is until Trump won the election when he donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration.

Singer rarely speaks publicly about his foreign policy views, but his money, alongside Marcus and Adelson’s, supports some of the most hawkish institutions in Washington, including the now defunct Foreign Policy Initiative and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies whose experts promote economic pressure and military strikes against Iran. Bundled together, employees of Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, were the second largest source of funds supporting the candidacy of the Senate’s most outspoken proponent of preventive war with Iran, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), in 2014.

FDD donor rolls showed that by the end of 2011, Adelson contributed $1.5 million, Singer $3.6 million, and Bernard Marcus — who still sits on FDD’s board and whose family foundation continues to provide approximately one-third of FDD’s budge t—contributed $10.7 million.

Trump and Republican members of Congress are effectively bound to take the words of these hawkish donors under consideration when soliciting campaign funds. In some cases, Trump and other Republicans appear to be torn between their instincts to avoid needless wars and campaign megadonors who hold radical foreign policy visions and expect their campaign dollars to shape the foreign policy of the politicians they fund.

December 27, 2019 - Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. “Three GOP megadonors, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Paul Singer, and Bernard Marcus contributed more than a quarter-of-a-billion-dollars to boost Trump’s 2016 campaign and support Republican congressional and senate campaigns in 2016 and 2018”.

    When the President of the USA is sponsored by a Casino Owner, a Hedge Fund Manager, and “Home Depo” owner, who CLEARLY exert GREAT INFLUENCE over the President that was elected by “The People”…..who do you think the President is going to listen to?
    The President of The United States of America, answers to “The Moneymen”, and the people’s vote is Worthless.

    When are the American people going to wake up??

    Like

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | December 27, 2019 | Reply

  2. And what is the common tribal affiliation — an affiliation that, at the beginning and end of each day, balances every foreign-policy objective against “Is this in favor of or at least not deleterious to the interests of (a certain “shi**y little entity in the Middle East)?” — of these three “Benjamins-Baby Billionaires” power centers? Bingo! Too bad Clifton doesn’t have the balls to tell us such an ominous connective fact of immense relevance to the core national-security and moral interests of the United States of America (repeat: United States of America).

    (An oddity: twice, Clifton uses “preventive war” vis-à-vis Iran…seems to me the correct construction is “pre-emptive war”…?)

    Like

    Comment by roberthstiver | December 28, 2019 | Reply

  3. What all you Americans FAIL to talk about is the fact that Trump IS an avowed ZIONIST, ISRAELI FIRSTER and a Crypto Jew himself with mist of his family members Jewish belonging to the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Cult and all his promises of ending wars are as phony as he is, based on deceit as he continues ALL these WARS FOR ERTEZ ISRAEL that his Zionist Predecessors also waged and worked for.
    Trump is just another presidential ‘figure head’ posing as a President in charge when in reality America is Israeli Occupied and dominated by Jewish Lobby Groups and Criminal Oligarchs/Billionaires like All things Israel Adelson and their NEOCONS who carried out a massive political Terrorist Coup on Americans on 9/11 but cleverly passing the blame onto phony Muslim Patsies.
    Just how many Arabs Muslim and Christian alike and how many Afghans etc does America need to kill for and on behalf of the Israeli Empire? Not enough I guess the 30 Million they have already butchered since 9/11 collectively against the Muslim countries they have already Holocausted in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine as per the Israeli Oded Yinon Plan. But oh I forget, Americans have not got a clue about that, they are just happy kicking the ass of the towel heads, ragheads in the Middle East for their blood lust revenge which Jews are renowned for [Purim and Hanukka Rituals] and carrying out with blood stained impunity
    Trump is very proud and happy to be Israel’s and American Jews’ Wagging and nodding dog while pretending to be a make America great President who SERVES ISRAEL and World Jewry- after all he IS their modern day King Cyrus [and his daughter ‘Queen Esther’ both avidly serving [as is Putin] all awaiting the arrival of the Moshiach when their Pagan Temple is built on the ruins of Al Aqsa where their drooling Rabbis will resume their blood sacrifice of the Animal Goyim. THAT is what Trump IS striving for as Noahide Laws are put into place throughout ‘Christian’ America [UK, West , world]
    Of course we cannot discuss or expose such things due to the Canard, Ruse, Trick/Trope of Anti Semitism that silences any and all criticism of Israeli and Jewish Crimes against Humanity’s Gentiles., majority of whom today are Muslims and Arab Victims-their modern day Amaleks!
    So America- Trump is making America ‘great’ for Eretz Israel and the Jews

    Oh and by the way, I I am a REAL ARAB SEMITE unlike the majority of today’s Phony Jews, European Khazarian Converts like Polish Netanyahu, Ukrainian/Lithuanian ‘American’ all things Israel Adelson etc who are the real Anti Semites and Racists/Supremacists as is Trump and his ‘Jewish Cult Family’

    Trump is not stuck anywhere, he is exactly where he wanted and needed to be by his handlers who installed him And served the Jewish/Israeli interests to the maximum of their expectations

    Like

    Comment by 'Hope' | December 28, 2019 | Reply

  4. ‘Hope,’ I don’t know you and don’t think I’ve ever read another post/comment by you, but your words are very, very close to reality these days as we in America have evolved from/sunk into the mire of Reagan…Clinton…Dubya…Trump (who trumps ’em all). B-movie/TV ritual lying personalities, womanizers, dry-drunk warmongers, now a teen-mentality bullying egomaniac. Even Obama was a “comic relief” puppet setting the stage for the real deal: they’re all part of the dumbing down, the Zionization of America, the America that I do believe once had potential for justice, morality and enlightenment. I can’t know the outcome of it all, but, at 76 yo, I’m not sure I give a damn. Hear! Hear! to you….

    Like

    Comment by roberthstiver | December 28, 2019 | Reply

  5. Add to the last, and credit to the honesty and accuracy therein, that this Jewish cabal of Zionist promotion, has succeeded in manipulating the American foreign policy to act on the behalf of Israel.

    And not the United States.

    The use of money as a weapon is perhaps more potent than the military might of America and who has demonstrated the use of money as a weapon more than those who have amassed so much of it that they can dictate American foreign policy.

    Israel is not an ally. It is the opposite, a fifth column, whose aim it to further and further influence policies domestically and foreign, to suborn America and its financial might, its ability to influence opinions, and its military might, to its end: that end is domination of America, Britain and other countries, to do its bidding.

    If Americans see this, then they are cowed and cowardly. If they don’t see it, then they are duped and stupid.

    Either way, they’ve become enslaved.

    Like

    Comment by michael | December 28, 2019 | Reply


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