Thursday, January 26, 2012

Costs of the Newt's Crusade

ALTHOUGH US Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is thankfully still a long way from the White House, let alone the war that he would like to wage, some Americans may already be counting the cost - for themselves - of getting caught up in the Newt's Crusade.

New York City police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly issued an apology through a top aide, on Tuesday. regretting that he cooperated with the makers of “The Third Jihad”, a film which purports to expose a Muslim conspiracy to “infiltrate and dominate America.”

Although not officially adopted by the police department, the film was shown on continuous loop in a room where police officers were filling out paper work or were on break from training, for an extended period in 2010, Kelly acknowledged in a statement. More than 1,400 officers may have seen it. It was stopped after an officer complained.

The anti-Muslim film shown to police officers was first reported a year ago in the Village Voice. But it has become a topical and controversial issue because it is being linked to those financing Newt Gingrich's campaign, and because Ray Kelly, who appears in the film,been interviewed for the film has not made a good job of dissassociating himself from it.

In fact Kelly denied at first having been interviewed for the film, claiming that clips of him had ben culled from elsewhere. That was on Monday, after the New York Times ran the story. But on Tuesday, after the film makers said they had met the police commissioner, Kelly's spokesman Paul Browne revised that earlier statement, saying he was approached in 2007 by Erik Werth, a reporter and former policy adviser under President Bill Clinton, to interview Kelly about “foiled terrorist plots and the current threat matrix” for a video Werth was making for cable TV"

Also on Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime Kelly ally, said that in showing the film, “Somebody exercised some terrible judgment. Bloomberg, who has been under fire for some of his associates and appointees, may be under pressure to dump Kelly.

The New York Police Department was already facing criticism from Muslim and civil liberties groups over a CIA-advised program that involved "mapping" the city's Muslim enclaves, and some reports say 'The Third Jihad', which depicts even moderate Muslims as taking part in a centuries-old plan for world domination, was shown to thousands of officers as a training video.

The New York Times' report connects The Third Jihad, and its shadowy sponsor, The Clarion Fund, to the 2012 election:

The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims' "war on the West" attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.

The United States, though opposing Palestinian recognition in the UN, is still officially committed under President Obama to the so-called Two State solution meaning that a Palestinian state would be set up alongside Israel. But Gingrich has come out as a champion of the extreme Zionists' belligerent line that Palestinians are just an "invented" nation. The suspicion is that those who start by denying a people's existence move on to trying to wipe them out physically.

Gingrich isn't the only candidate with links to the Clarion Fund. One of Mitt Romney's Middle East advisers, Walid Phares, was a political adviser to the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces which carried out atrocities during Lebanon's long civil war, before going on to be an "anti-terrorism" expert in the United States, and he remains on Clarion's adisory board.

The former Massachussetts governor has made an effort to quietly acknowledge those who believe American Muslims are quietly working to replace the Constitution with Taliban-style Islamic law (and force all of us to eat halal turkeys at Thanksgiving) by picking one of their more scholarly cohorts as an adviser on the Middle East, according to Mother Jones magazine's Washington DC correspondent Adam Serwer.

Neverthess, Gingrich's links with the Islamophobes and far Right Zionists seem strongest, and underwritten with financial backing. A report by Gal Beckerman in the Jewish daily Forward

"It is safe to say that without multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s help the chances of Newt Gingrich becoming the Republican nominee for president would be zero — and consequently the race itself, going into Florida at the moment, would not be the competitive, drag-out fight it has become. Adelson, the hotel and casino magnate, has kept Gingrich alive, first through an infusion of $5 million into a super PAC, which allowed the former speaker to defend himself against attacks by Mitt Romney and led to Gingrich’s thumping victory in South Carolina. And now we know that Adelson’s wife, Miriam, has committed another $5 million to the cause of Newt.

"One of Adelson’s passions — and a reason for his desire to play such a big role in American politics — is undoubtedly Israel. And his positions are unambiguously right-wing and hawkish to the extreme. When it comes to the Palestinians, there is no one to be trusted. The New Yorker quotes him as calling Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister widely respected in the West, as being one of the “terrorists” running the Palestinian Authoriy. Even AIPAC was not far enough to the right for him. After being a diehard supporter — funding a new building in Washington, D.C. — he split with the group in 2007 when it decided to support a congressional initiative, backed by the Israelis, to increase economic aid to the Palestinians. “I don’t continue to support organizations that help friends committing suicide just because they want to jump,” he said at the time by way of explanation. He had the same reaction when Ehud Olmert, whom Adelson had once befriended, came to the conclusion that he had to pursue negotiations with the Palestinian leadership.

"In short, Adelson does not believe in the two-state solution. As he told The Jewish Week last year, 'The two-state solution is a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.'

"What does it mean to have someone with these views have such an outsized influence on a candidate and the race he is in? Well, for Gingrich it seems this has translated into him tripping over himself to prove his pro-Israel bona fides, to the point where he was willing to say, this past December in an interview with the Jewish Channel, that the Palestinians were an “invented” people who “had the chance to go many places.’’ No Palestinians, no need to negotiate a state. And Adelson clearly showed his satisfaction with Gingrich’s line. As he told a group of Birthright participants at a Hanukkah party a few weeks later, 'Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians, and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people'.

"As Wayne Barrett recently reported in The Daily Beast, there has been a marked turn in Gingrich’s positions on Israel since his political life began depending on Adelson. Not that long ago, in a 2005 Middle East Quarterly article, Gingrich urged the “Palestinian diaspora” to invest in “their ancestral lands,” and even proposed that Congress “establish a program of economic aid for the Palestinians to match the aid the U.S. government provides Israel.”

"You will not hear anything like this from Gingrich again any time soon.

"But the greater concern is that because of his influence on Gingrich, Adelson has turned the Republican contest into a competition of extreme rhetoric, in which there is no room for compromise or diplomacy, and the only answer to any international problem is unmitigated toughness. No one wants to be outflanked by the right when it comes to foreign policy (no one, I should say, besides Ron Paul) and so Gingrich’s apparent parroting of Adelson’s hardline attitudes about Israel — and, I should add, Iran — means that the whole tone of the race is affected."

Like George Dubya before him, the Newt seems eager to afford other Americans the opportunity to participate in war, without having himself experienced it. Though raised partly by a stepfather who was in the military, Gingrich went to France, obtained deferment as a student, did not enlist and was not drafted during the Vietnam war. "Given everything I believe in, a large part of me thinks I should have gone over," he declared in 1985.

Still that dues not prevent him advocating war now, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. In a recent debate in Florida, Gingrich advocated a war with Cuba to deal with the problem of Fidel Castro. Romney, keeping up with the spirit of the game, asserts that he would not be negotiating with the Taliban. When asked by Brian Williams, “Governor, how do you end the war in Afghanistan without talking to the Taliban?” Romney simply said, “By beating them.”

Rick Santorum, a former lawyer putting himself as the "True Conservative" said recently that he would demand the Iranians open up their nuclear facilities, “or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes — and make it very public that we are doing that.” This is one of the implicit options in Obama's repeated threat that “all options are on the table.” But for Santorum there seems to be no other option. Like the Islamophobes training for war at home, Santorum too has pointed to a domestic enemy, denouncing left-wing academics whom he alleges are "indoctrinating students".

Romney says that “if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” and calls for regime change as well as “covert and overt” actions. Gingrich says he would “break the Iranian regime” within a year by “cutting off the gasoline supply to Iran and then, frankly, sabotaging the only refinery they have.”

Talk is cheap, though in America it is also very expensive. Were any of these gentlemen to gain office ordinary Americans, as well as people in other countries, could find themselves paying a much higher price than officials careers or the millions that have gone into the candidates' coffers. Hopefully anough Americans will sober up to see the danger when the war hysteria primaries are over.

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