What if Sheldon Adelson and AIPAC Gave a War and No One Came?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 10 2013 9:41 AM

What if Sheldon Adelson and AIPAC Gave a War and No One Came?

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Las Vegas casino boss Sheldon Adelson gestures during press conference in Macau on Sept. 20, 2012. Adelson unveiled plans to build a scaled-down replica of the Eiffel Tower as part of a new $3 billion gambling resort in Macau.

Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/GettyImages

Shane Goldmacher talks to Sheldon Adelson about the conflict with Syria. Surprise: He's for intervening, and willing to help Barack Obama make the case, whatever that might mean.

He said he worries about missiles, and chemical and biological weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah. And he sees the potential that America might back down after Obama drew a "red line" against use of chemical weapons in Syria as poor precedent – in the Middle East and beyond. "I wouldn't want to see North Korea come down and trample on South Korea because they think they can do it with impunity. And the same thing with Iran and Israel, and Iran and Europe," he said.
And so Adelson said it's time for Republicans to line up behind Obama, however they feel about him personally. "Whether we care or not about whether he loses credibility is not the issue," he said. "The issue is whether or not the United States of America loses credibility."
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But you know what? It doesn't look like this matters. AIPAC endorsed the idea of airstrikes early in this debate, and it moved not a single member of Congress. Haaretz noticed that, asking whether "the American Jewish establishment" had dealt itself permanent damage by revealing its total lack of influence on this issue. It's just not clear than any lobbying would have worked; too many members of Congress worry that displacing a secular tyranny will mean installing an Islamic one, and worry about the fate of millions of Syrian Christians. That's overwhelming the worry about Israel. It might be a watershed moment.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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