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POLITICAL ECONOMY
Outside View: Funny money
by Morgan Strong
Brick, N.J. (UPI) Jun 28, 2012


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and I are in agreement, a rare moment of clarity for McCain.

McCain, who on occasion demonstrates the integrity he is possessed of but most often fails to employ, has expressed grave concern over the influx of foreign money into this year's U.S. presidential campaign.

He accuses Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire and pernicious supporter of Israel of introducing Chinese money into the campaign in favor of Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates. Adelson and his wife acknowledge giving $10 million to a super political action committee, which presumably supports Romney and a number of extreme Republican candidates for office, nationwide.

In an obvious contradiction to that statement McCain helped block a bill known as the Disclose Act that would have imposed new restrictions to prevent foreign money from being spent on U.S. elections. McCain claimed he opposes the bill because it imposed restrictions on free speech.

McCain objects to the money coming from Adelson solely because he believes it allows the Chinese to influence U.S. elections. He has no such objection to the use of the campaign funds to influence elections for the benefit of Israeli foreign policy.

Adelson is a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and vigorously supports Netanyahu's plans to expand Israel territorially and to attack Iran, with American help, presumably to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The devastation of Iran would mean total control for Israel in the Middle East.

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has foolishly stated that if he is elected to the presidency he will, for any policy the United States devises toward Israel, consult Netanyahu for his approval before its implementation.

That is close to treason, at the very least it is clearly contrary to the interests of the United States to allow a foreign power, any foreign power, to decide what policies this country will employ toward it absent that countries agreement.

This year's presidential election will most certainly be about who controls U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East to a great extent. Will it be we the American people and their independently elected representatives, or our elected representatives who have previously pledged to support Israel's foreign policy?

A successful resolution in Syria, the removal of President Bashar Assad, can change the present equation dramatically. If Syria's revolution is to prevail then Iran's fate is of consequence, but of lesser urgency. Iran would still control Iraq but Iraq is redeemable to a functioning democracy if the United States were to once again intervene militarily.

This legacy of the delusions and ineptness of the Bush presidency are placing the lives of U.S. armed forces at great risk once again. It shouldn't be so, but it is. We find ourselves having lost Iraq battling Iran and forced to salvage Syria.

We must intervene in Syria in some manner quickly or the entire region can fall into uncontrolled chaos dominated by the self-serving machinations of Israel. Romney as president, as inept as he has shown himself to be in pledging servitude to Netanyahu, could only bring greater tragedy to this country.

Romney and, to a lesser extent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., have introduced into this year's presidential elections the single element that can destroy representative democracy and make the mechanics of electoral politics mere theater.

The amount of money that can influence U.S. voters is always there and there are so many ways now to use money to reach and manipulate voters. Money influences all of our elections but the extent to which far greater amounts of money with no control as to how it was obtained, or by whom it is contributed, or how it is used, will make the very simple idea of "one man one vote," which we have relied upon throughout our history for fairness, obsolete.

Romney is willing to take money from whatever source offers it. He has no scruples when it comes to taking as much as he can get from whomever he can. That has both a chilling effect on this election and may be the beginning of the end of our participatory democracy. Romney cannot quite understand the true essence of our democracy. He believes, as he did in his business career, that money is the defining criteria for success not integrity.

Money influences political campaigns with inordinate and disproportionate power. There has recently been an obscene amount of money spent on the foolish attempt to prove U.S. President Barack Obama isn't a natural-born U.S. citizen and therefore cannot hold the office of the president. There are those who sadly suffer sufficient intellectual deficiency, who steadfastly believe that the president isn't a U.S. citizen.

The point being that even this nonsense can be believed by some given enough money to create influence. There is enough money now to simply buy this country's vote. There are no protections to prevent this from happening. The corrupt senators and members of congressman who voted against campaign reform to share in the largess have destroyed any hope of honest campaign finance reform. None of them wanted to be left out of the flow of money and were all willing to sacrifice our freedoms for their ambitions.

This year's presidential election truly holds the future for our democracy. Unscrupulous men, with vast amounts of money are out to destroy this country and place a figurehead of a president to do their bidding. Be warned.

(Morgan Strong is a former professor of Middle Eastern and American History. He was a consultant to CBS News' "60 Minutes" on the Middle East.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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