CNN hands over Republican foreign policy debate to neocon cabal

When Republican primary candidates debate foreign policy issues tonight, CNN's Wolf Blitzer (a former researcher for AIPAC) will mouth questions provided to him by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). While the Heritage Foundation is well known as the outsourced brain of Republicans in Congress and serves as a hothouse for right-wing GOP domestic policies, AEI's participation in the debate is even more problematic.

The Washington Post pointed out that some of the candidates have close relationships with the think tanks, noting Newt Gingrich's 12-year-long fellowship at AEI and Mitt Romney's employment of several former Heritage fellows. "Can the two think tanks divorce themselves from the candidates they are tied to in order to produce an impartial debate?" the Post asked.

But this is the wrong question, or at least not the most salient one. The problem with CNN allowing Heritage and AEI to dictate the questions and content of the GOP debate is that it provides the neocon cabal with a national platform to sell Americans on the need for war with Iran and for continued subsidization of Israel's colonization of the West Bank. AEI is the nerve center for the neocon cabal; it is where the now-discredited case for invading Iraq was developed. Now, in-house pseudo-scholars like Michael Rubin, a protege of Richard Perle, are clamoring for the White House to approve an Israeli attack on Iran, or to authorize the US to do it on Israel's behalf. "If the White House decides to come down hard on Israel now, it is the same as giving a green light for Israel to strike Iran," Rubin has written. On another occasion, Rubin called for the US to "consider" assassinating Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Debate prep videos posted on AEI's website illustrate the ultra-Zionist, pro-war narrative the think plans to inject into the debate. "The most important thing to remember about the US-Israel alliance is that it's a true partnership," Rubin declared in one of the videos. "The United States gets more from our partnership with Israel perhaps than Israel does from the United States."

Rubin continued: "The question I would ask the candidates, is whether it's ever appropriate to ask an ally to make concessions under fire for the sake of diplomacy."

With AEI and Heritage dictating tonight's debate, candidates will almost certainly be pressured to compete with one another over who will do more to "protect Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran and an Iranian backed Hamas." And it is unlikely that Rick Santorum will be grilled on his statement yesterday that "all the people who live in the West Bank are Israeli." Santorum went on to compare Israel's occupation of the West Bank to the US's conquest of the area now known as New Mexico and Texas. Considering that residents of New Mexico and Texas can vote and enjoy full democratic rights in the United States, should Palestinian residents of the West Bank be afforded the same rights by Israel? Or should they be subjected to apartheid conditions?

Don't count on Santorum fielding real questions like this by a news network that has handed control over its campaign coverage to the neocon cabal.

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