There was an article in The New York Times by Don Van Natta entitled "Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift Group on the Right" that tells us about a new conservative group, Freedom Watch, which will have "Iran policy" as one of its primary targets:
Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda. Its next target: Iran policy.
Next month, Freedom's Watch will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States, according to several benefactors of the group.
And where did this group spring from? The Times tells us:
The idea for Freedom's Watch was hatched in March at the winter meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Manalapan, Fla., where Vice President Dick Cheney was the keynote speaker, according to participants. Next week, the group is moving into a 10,000-square-foot office in the Chinatown section of Washington, with plans to employ as many as 50 people by early next year.
Who is really behind this group? The Times is unable to really tell us:
Since the group is organized as a tax-exempt organization, it does not have to reveal its donors and it can not engage in certain types of partisan activities that directly support political candidates. It denies coordinating its activities with the White House, although many of its donors and organizers are well connected to the administration, including Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary.
The Times was able to tell us a little about the "founders" of the group:
Among the group's founders are Sheldon G. Adelson, the chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, who ranks sixth on the Forbes Magazine list of the world's billionaires; Mel Sembler, a shopping center magnate based in St. Petersburg, Fla., who served as the ambassador to Italy and Australia; John M. Templeton Jr., the conservative philanthropist from Bryn Mawr, Pa.; and Anthony H. Gioia, a former ambassador to Malta who heads an investment group based in Buffalo, N.Y. All four men are long-time prolific donors who have raised money on behalf of Republican and conservative causes.
Why are the "donors" so anxious to keep their support hidden from public view? Obviously they know that what they are doing is more than a bit sleazy or would otherwise cause a significant degree of embarrassment or even scandal if it were to be made public.
Although they will have Iran as a primary target, they are also going after Iraq as well:
Freedom's Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush's troop increase in Iraq.
This makes it quite clear that so much of the talk about staying in Iraq is really about targeting and confronting Iran.
Iran is not now and has never been a major national security threat for the United States and is clearly not a "direct" threat to our security. Sure, there are occasional mini-conflicts between the two, but the answer is to simply keep a little bit of distance between the two. Intentionally pursuing a policy of confrontation is definitely not improving relations and would seem to have some other goal than peaceful coexistence. What might that other goal be?
Clearly that other goal is to "confront" Iran. Not surprisingly, such a goal dovetails nicely with the overall policies of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby.
Sure, there is incredible geopolitical tension between Israel and Iran for a number of reasons, but the U.S. "taking sides" rather than trying to work out an accommodation is distinctly unhelpful. In any case, Freedom Watch is clearly not a group that has the "direct" national security of the U.S. at heart, but has grander "ambitions."
-- Jack Krupansky