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Adelson’s Deranged Iran Comments

Noah Rayman reports [1] on Sheldon Adelson’s recent suggestion that the U.S. should launch a nuclear attack on an uninhabited part of Iran:

The biggest donor to Republican Party political groups said Tuesday that the United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran to spur the country to end its own nuclear program.

Now it’s not especially interesting that a hawkish fanatic supports doing something insane and immoral, but what struck me about the video [2] of Adelson’s remarks at Yeshiva University was the applause that greeted what he said. One would expect Adelson to hold ridiculous and obnoxious views about attacking Iran, but it is far more troubling that any of the people listening to his remarks thought that the idea of launching an unprovoked nuclear first-strike and threatening further nuclear attacks was a good one worth considering. Adelson’s fellow panelists and the panel moderator don’t object to anything he says, and the follow-up question from the moderator (Rabbi Shmuley Boteach) treated the suggestion as if it were a normal proposal for demonstrating American “strength.” No one appears to have been the least bit put off by the idea of gratuitously using nuclear weapons to force Iran into compliance with U.S. demands.

The episode is instructive in a few ways. First, this is the sort of deranged statement that receives a respectful hearing on the right and among Iran hawks more generally, and it is one to which our hawkish politicians feel obliged to pander. No one would care what Adelson has to say about this or any other issue if he weren’t a substantial donor to Republican candidates and organizations, but he is. It also conveys the egregious double standard in the Iran debate on the possession and use of nuclear weapons: not only are some states not permitted to develop even the capability to build such weapons, but those states that possess nuclear weapons presume to have the right to launch illegal attacks on those that don’t. Adelson is expressing in a more appalling way the belief that the U.S. has the right to inflict destruction on Iran to “prevent” it from acquiring weapons that it is not yet actively seeking.

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40 Comments To "Adelson’s Deranged Iran Comments"

#1 Comment By Christopher On October 23, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

The last paragraph perfectly captures my sentiments – the idea that nuclear powers such as the United States and Israel (yes, they have nukes) possess the moral entrepreneurship of who should join their exclusive club and who shouldn’t. Another important point Daniel could have mentioned – which I suppose is self-evident but bears repeating anyway – is the inevitability of US policy towards Iran geared towards Israeli interests. Adelson is a staunch pro-Israel demagogue and he, like many of the hawks advocating military action of any kind against Iran, are lapdogs of the Likud party. One can only hope that the president would be wise to ignore their horrible suggestions.

#2 Comment By balconesfault On October 23, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

The truly insane thing about Adelson’s remarks is that any sane person should realize that dropping a nuke on ANY Islamic nation would be the best way to ensure that one day a nuclear device is exploded within the borders of Israel.

#3 Comment By Hunsdon On October 23, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

American strength? Adelson and Boteach at Yeshiva deciding who America nukes is not a demonstration of American strength.

#4 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 23, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

Add this to the list of reasons that–whatever Obama’s faults–we all should be thanking every deity in the sky that Mitt Romney did not win the election.

#5 Comment By collin On October 23, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

Yes this is very scary indeed and now Saudia Arabia is complaining about our lack of Syrian intervention and Iran potential detente. (Or solving Israel & palenstine and stopping world hunger and finally the inability to help The Cubs win the World Series.) It almost apppears we have to somebody to call enemy to show American strength.

My main concern with this response is Ted Cruz is going to go all in with potential military options in Iran especially if Obama gets anywhere with negotiations.

#6 Comment By Boston Bob On October 23, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

Let us instead drop Sheldon Adelson on an uninhabited part of Iran.

#7 Comment By balconesfault On October 23, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

Let us instead drop Sheldon Adelson on an uninhabited part of Iran.

Actually, given that Sheldon Adelson is personally worth about $28 billion, and given the support Adelson (through the PAC American Solutions) has given to privatization in the past – why shouldn’t he just pony up his own cash to buy a country somewhere and commission Xe to wage war on Iraq on his behalf … and leave the rest of us out?

#8 Comment By T. Sledge On October 23, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

If a bunch of “primitive” people from some part of the Amazon or Sub-Sahara Africa sat around the campfire with an interpreter, and suggested that Obama attack with modern weaponry another indigenous group that “threatened” them, everyone in the “civilized” world would be snickering at the lunacy of the “savages”.

But this pompous twit sits on a dais with presumably “intelligent” and “civilized” people and suggests something whose consequences could be catastrophic, and ….

I wonder if there is some aspect of intelligence that is completely missing in so many supposedly “intelligent” people, something that the “intelligent” have no idea how to quantify.

Because from the perspective of this very sub-Mensa-level intellect, these people are effing lunatics.

#9 Comment By Noah172 On October 23, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

Currying favor with this treasonous troll should be a disqualification for the presidency. It is for this voter.

#10 Comment By Scottinnj On October 23, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

Amazingly this is not get a lot of media play but if the billionaire bugaboo of the right George Soros said something equally stupid you’d never hear the end of it on Fox News.

#11 Comment By Hetzer On October 23, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

@balconesfault – he didn’t get fabulously wealthy by spending his *own* money.

@Scottinnj – the problem is the non-fox-news chunk of the media (the “librul media”) may not be willing to nuke Iran, but they are bought and paid for by people with a somewhat less crude version of Adelson’s policy for Iran. They are still 100% behind using American force to make Iran bow to Israeli interests, so there’s no reason for them to make a stink about Adelson, who they probably think is either “misguided” or just stupid for talking that way in public.

#12 Comment By Henri James On October 23, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

I’m not big into accusing people of evil, but nuking a country is god damn evil. That’s a legitimately disgusting thing to say.

#13 Comment By Ken Hoop On October 23, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

I don’t expect Obama to make fair offers to Iran when push comes to shove, but if he does and Ted Cruz proceeds to play the superhawk interventionist card, Rand Paul should immediately regain his status as Tea Party leader by loudly outing Cruz as yet another Big Government/Big-and-wasteful-on war hypocrite, and a dangerous one at that.

#14 Comment By William Dalton On October 23, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

Perhaps we should drop an A-bomb on the Negev and induce Israel to give up its nuclear weapons (not to mention the occupied territories).

Right, that’s going to work.

#15 Comment By TomB On October 23, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

Yet another jaw-dropper at this same conference was the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens saying that those who favor the U.S. negotiating with Iran are “objectively fellow travelers with the most oppressive regime in the world today.”

A jaw-dropper just standing alone, that is. Given that Stephens used to be with the Jerusalem Post and likewise has other susceptibilities, and then essentially agrees that what *he’s* doing can be viewed “objectively” too and thus just absolutely opens up the way for him to at least objectively be called an “Israeli agent” or perhaps even practicing “treason” on its behalf if he possesses any U.S. citizenship, there’s no place lower for the jaw to drop.

I’ve always been amazed at the insularity and mammoth self-regard of the kind of mind that believes that one can raise the rhetorical pitch to its most extreme level … but is then surprised and outraged when the object of their vitriol returns the favor.

#16 Comment By Mike W On October 23, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

This lunatic owns my old party now. He has bought and paid for every presidential aspirant and many others. His all Israel all the time foreign policy is matched by his obsession with legalizing 20 million illegal aliens during times of high unemployment. He epitomizes the neocon nightmare.

#17 Comment By Andrew On October 23, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

Ah, those wonderful college dropouts, who so easily operate with nuclearism fundamentals. I wonder if Adelson offered his services to Joint Chiefs Of Staff? If he is worth 20 billion earned by selling dreams to people in Vegas, I guess that makes him competent in the issues of war and peace. I guess AIPAC can create its own General Staff College on the Yeshiva campus now.

#18 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 23, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

What surprise should there be that millionaire mavens of gambling, or prostitution, should also be those who favor other forms of human death and destruction?

#19 Comment By Mr. Patrick On October 23, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

A parody of a parody of a parody. Sheldon Adelson playing the part of Mike Myers playing Dr. Evil playing Donald Pleasence playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

#20 Comment By Emilio On October 23, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

Frightening and unbelievably appalling and detestable. Cynical would be an improvement.

#21 Comment By sglover On October 24, 2013 @ 12:54 am

Giving Adelson a forum is such an admirable thing for Yeshiva University to do. If not for them, how could an ordinary citizen like him possibly get his opinions out there?

[3] is surely rolling in his grave:

“Yeshiva University President Dr. Samuel Belkin began planning for a new medical school as early as 1945. Six years later, Dr. Belkin and New York City Mayor Vincent Impellitteri entered into an agreement to begin construction. At the same time, world-renowned physicist and humanitarian Albert Einstein sent a letter to Dr. Belkin. He remarked that such an endeavor would be “unique” in that the school would “welcome students of all creeds and races.”[6] Two years later, on his 74th birthday, March 14, 1953, Albert Einstein agreed to attach his name to the medical school.”

#22 Comment By Zerbe On October 24, 2013 @ 1:55 am

Why not omit the last two words in your title? That chap is an embarrassment to all three of the passports he carries.

#23 Comment By NattyB On October 24, 2013 @ 2:34 am

Aren’t they prosecuting this guy for bribing Macau officials re: to his mega casino’s there? [4]

#24 Comment By Jon On October 24, 2013 @ 8:09 am

@ T. Sledge –

It’s important to keep in mind that Adelson’s riches are based on gambling. So his intelligence – if one chooses to characterize it as such – is of a very narrow sort.

#25 Comment By Hunsdon On October 24, 2013 @ 8:33 am

Henri James said: I’m not big into accusing people of evil, but nuking a country is god damn evil. That’s a legitimately disgusting thing to say.

Hunsdon said: Damn straight.

#26 Comment By Jim L. Blackwell On October 24, 2013 @ 8:39 am

I agree totally with what you wrote. However I do take exception that you seem to be lumping all conservatives into one chicken-hawk and Israel-lobby pot and in a oblique manner making a case that you are shocked that conservatives in general support or condone or nod their heads in agreement with people like Adelson and their asinine, ignorant, and oh so very Neo-conservative viewpoint. That is simply not the case as it currently exists. Most conservative populists do not associate with Neo-conservatism in any manner. There is a consensus and agreement within the conservative populist movement that Israel is a true friend and ally that is our only real trusted partner in the middle-east, and that when push comes to shove we should side with Israel unless Israeli conduct is so out of control that it is judged to be out of bounds to the situation. But that is where the “mutual admiration” society black-slapping ends. We have our own national interests to look after. We have our own national problems to deal with. And certainly willy-nilly dropping nuclear weapons on a sovereign nation simply to prove a point is out of control, out of bounds, and darn right insane. And anyone conservative or otherwise that applauds that mind-set is certainly not acting in our national interest and the person or people advocating such a course of action should be shunned and ridiculed for the dangerous fools they are.

#27 Comment By Michael N Moore On October 24, 2013 @ 8:50 am

This is not just Adelson’s idea and it is not new. According to Fortress Israel by New York Times foreign correspondent Patrick Tyler, page 410:

“To add water to Netanyahu’s ship, the (Israeli) generals whispered to the news media examples of his recklessness… There were rumors that Netanyahu had made intemperate comments in private about employing Israel’s nuclear arsenal against Syria during a period of tensions.”

Page 164, regarding the Six Day War:

“…(Levi) Eshkol had been persuaded by the small group of experts that Israel should prepare the option of exploding a nuclear device within sight of the Egyptian forces as the ultimate deterrent against attack. A so-called demonstration shot could also be fired to stop an Arab army that had already broken through Israel’s defenses.”

#28 Comment By Puller58 On October 24, 2013 @ 9:08 am

Hardly anything new. Norman Podhoretz has been making this sort of rant for a while now. The fact that the proposed Syrian strike elicited a giant yawn from the Tea Party only attests to the Pavolian reaction to having Barack Obama in the White House. Were a GOPer to replace him, rest assured a similar proposal would receive a much different reaction.

#29 Comment By Marc On October 24, 2013 @ 9:38 am

EngineerScotty says:
October 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm
Add this to the list of reasons that–whatever Obama’s faults–we all should be thanking every deity in the sky that Mitt Romney did not win the election.

Amen to that. I fear the day that a neocon gets back into the White House.

#30 Comment By balconesfault On October 24, 2013 @ 10:32 am

@NattyB Clearly if the Feds end up going after Adelson over the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it will be one more example of the heavy hand of the Holder DOJ persecuting Obama’s political enemies.

The latest right wing meme I heard this AM on the radio is that the NSA wiretapping foreign officials just proves that they have been wiretapping Tea Partiers and other conservatives – and that this is why Chris Christie made appearances with Obama in the midst of the Sandy response (and not because those appearances were politically incredibly beneficial to Christie). The Obama DOJ took info gleaned from wiretapping to force Christie to appear with Obama. Really.

Puller, meanwhile, has it correct. Were a Republican in the White House, a call for bombing Syria would have received overwhelming support from most of the Tea Partiers in Congress … and I’d suggest that had Obama staked a position from the beginning that the US would in no circumstance get involved in Syria, the Tea Party position would be that we’re showing weakness and abdicating our leadership role by not intervening.

#31 Comment By BD On October 24, 2013 @ 10:49 am

If the big fear is that Iran is going to get a nuclear weapon with which to attack Israel, and Israel (supposedly) already has nuclear weapons, then isn’t it telling that Israel hasn’t actually done this for themselves? If the idea is too insane for Netanyahu, why is it not too insane for us?

I also wonder if everyday Israelis are at least a bit creeped out by the weird fetish some Americans have for their country–to the extent that we’re willing to launch insane wars on their behalf.

#32 Comment By Chris On October 24, 2013 @ 11:48 am

I just like the proposal that we drop a nuclear weapon contrary to international law to punish Iran for trying to get nuclear weapons contrary to international law.

#33 Comment By TomB On October 24, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

You know, what’s really *really* bad about all this is that the corrective to such things—media coverage—just suddenly goes missing.

Let some other big Republican donor go and make some even 1/10th as crazy a comment—about damn near *anything* else almost—and not only would it be covered by the major media but you’d probably never read that donor’s name again without that statement being brought up.

And then also compare: Imagine some Catholic priest—one clearly and firmly popular and indeed having some clear renown among the believers—moderating a panel on which one of the Catholic panelists advocates not even the nuking of anyone but, say, the “mere” killing of abortion physicians. And then imagine that Catholic priest-moderator not recoiling or objecting in the least to same nor even turning any apparent hair over it.

Well my God just imagine the coverage.

None for the moderator of the event at which Mr. Adelson advocated his nuking idea though, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach. Or at least none that I’ve seen in any near mainstream source.

Just as, despite the orthodox jewish community(s) around New York experiencing their problems with rabbis and child sex-abuse it’s positively rare to hear even bupkus about same. (Has maybe been one story in the NYTImes in decades about same.) And about the only sensibility one expects to further hear at the mention of the word “rabbi” on the Tube is some gentle humor.

But one can hardly even hear the word “priest” mentioned on television now without it just automatically being part of a jibe essentially implying that all the Church’s priests had or have pedophilic tendencies. To great great laughter typically. (See, e.g., “The Chelsea Lately” show especially.)

Funny funny funny; Oh so funny.

I have no doubt there’s any number of jewish individuals who privately and even harshly condemn this sort of media imbalance and other-religion-bashing thing when and where they can within the jewish community. But if they’re making a difference it isn’t apparent, that’s for sure.

#34 Comment By Michael N Moore On October 24, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

Peter Beinart wrote a good piece on Boteach in his Open Zion section of the Daily Beast:


#35 Comment By Ken_L On October 24, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

I completely agree with the post and the comments, but there is another part of Adelson’s rant worth mentioning, viz his idiotic suggestion that Roosevelt could have prevented the Holocaust or at least alleviated it by bribing the Brits to allow greater migration to Palestine. How? By making vague offers to join Britain in a war that hadn’t even started, regardless of the fact that Roosevelt was in no position to deliver on such half-promises.

I say it’s worth noting not because it is a ridiculous piece of historical revisionism, although it is, but because it is more evidence that Adelson sees no problem in using any available tactic to get what he wants; in this instance, he thinks it would have been quite OK for the president of the USA to deliberately deceive the prime minister of Great Britain in order to protect European Jews. Adelson (assuming he is speaking from the heart and not just putting on a performance to boost his ego, which is not out of the question) is that rare creature, a truly amoral person who will single-mindedly do whatever it takes to get his way without even acknowledging the concept of morality or natural rights. No doubt that explains how he got rich. And as you observe, the frightening thing is how his audience applauds him.

#36 Comment By a spencer On October 25, 2013 @ 2:28 am

I’m always curious if the Sheldon Adelsons of the world (and the Jennifer Rubins and the Bret Stephenses and the Max Boots, etc) think that they’re helping their cause with this asinine rhetoric. I guess you can accumulate enough wealth not to care, but if there was a collapse of support for Israel, would they take responsibility?

No. The answer is no, they would not take responsibility and, indeed, cry anti-semitism, thus extending the repercussions to all Jews, which is a shame because its not fair.

#37 Comment By a spencer On October 25, 2013 @ 3:04 am

sorry for the double post.

We’ve all seen changes over the course of our lifetimes; if you had asked me back in college as I was ripping a hit off the Super Bong whether marijuana would one day be legal in this country, I and everyone I know, probably including the guy from NORML, would have flatly said “no”. Yet here we are. Things can and do change in unexpected ways.

I’m not unique in that it’s seemed for quite a while that we’re experiencing the dying embers of certain fires in this country and, in a fire, those embers sometimes flare up a bit before going out. For instance, today from the back of a magazine you can get a license to marry a same-sex couple. Couldn’t do that before and now ‘resistance is futile’. We see this on a number of issues and where it leads remains interesting, at the very least.

#38 Comment By James from Durham, England On October 25, 2013 @ 8:25 am

The idea that anyone is suggesting the use of nuclear weapons against anyone anywhere is chilling. If America wants to become an international pariah viewed as lower than the worst middle eastern despotism, this is the way to go.

#39 Comment By Labropotes On October 27, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

To Ken_L, I think people who have zero moral compass are becoming rather common. It is absent from popular culture.

On another topic, the news that the NSA was passing unfiltered surveillance data to Israel is another story that received surprisingly little attention.


Our equanimity at such insults to our independance — long ago proudly declared — shows how domesticated America has become, like Katharina at the end of Taming of the Shrew.

#40 Comment By Nargunomics On November 10, 2013 @ 5:23 am

Worth pointing out that Iran still has a Jewish community? The likeliehood that any nuke dropped on Tehran for example would kill about 10 000 Jews? Extremely high.

And guess what, it would make the US – or Israel, if Israel dropped one of its nukes – the killer of the largest number of Jews en masse since 1945.

The Jewish community since time immemorial has had this animus towards Jews who betray their fellow Jews. But Israel seems to be exempt from this – try talking to any Zionist about Israel, legitimacy and the Lavon Affair … guess what, Israel has commit any number of Ein Gedi against Jews, and the is “Jewish State” so-called, won’t ever be held accountable.