Lately Iran seems to have replaced a two-state solution as the thing that looms largest, in Adelson's mind, as a threat to Israel. When he wrote a piece
listing reasons a second Obama term would be bad for Israel, the first thing he mentioned was "the threat of nuclear
annihilation by Iran."
There's a kind of irony here that might seem poignant if I didn't find it so depressing. Adelson is sometimes cast as a dark, Machiavellian presence. Yet,
if you ask why people on the "pro-Israel" right oppose the kind of negotiated deal that could actually solve the Iran problem, there is a range of possible
answers, and the likely answer in Adelson's case is, in a sense, the most innocent. He strikes me as basically a frightened old man, a guy who genuinely
thinks that Iran is bent on wiping out Israel's population and believes that only extreme measures would provide an adequate safeguard. In contrast, if you
ask why Netanyahu opposes any realistic negotiated deal, you get (depending on whom you ask) a whole range of answers, including some cynical ones:
Some people think it's because Netanyahu wants war (preferably led by the US), and others think it's because he wants sanctions to continue until the
Iranian regime collapses, and others think it's because he wants to divert international attention from the Palestinian problem--which the Iran issue has
certainly done. And some people think Netanyahu wants to sustain Iranian-American tension indefinitely to prevent rapprochement between Iran and the US (a
rapprochement that would pretty obviously be good for Israel, but by now it shouldn't surprise anyone that Netanyahu might oppose things that are good for
Finally, some people think Netanyahu et. al. are genuinely freaked out by the thought of an Iran that has any centrifuges still spinning (even though the deal with Iran most commonly discussed--a deal Iran has signaled its openness to--would leave it much further away from the red line on Bibi's famous bomb cartoon than it is
now, allowing it to enrich uranium only up to the 5-percent level.) I personally doubt that Bibi's motivation is this simple and
straightforward, though, again, Adelson's may well be.
Whatever the motivations of Netanyahu, Adelson, AIPAC, etc., they are collectively a force that it will be hard for a President Romney to
ignore during his first term. (I think the power of the Israel lobby is often overstated, but it's not nothing, and in any event, so far Romney is acting
as if he believes in its awesome electoral power.) A second-term Obama, in contrast, would have both the ability and the motivation to resist their influence.
Faced with the question of whether Romney would lead the US into another catastrophic war, people sometimes try to fathom the essence of the "real" Romney.
Is he a man of war? A man of peace? The answer is the same as the answer for Obama: It depends on the circumstance he finds himself in. Romney and Obama
are both fairly normal human beings, with the kinds of aspirations that politicians tend to have. If you're wondering which one would be more dangerous as
president next year, that's all you need to know about them.