I’m slow on the uptake on this because, well, I’m slow on the uptake. But on Monday, Salon published a report by Eli Clifton that is absolutely a must-read if you care about the forces trying to maneuver this country away from a peaceful nuclear deal with Iran and toward war. Clifton looked into a shady group called United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). UANI is being sued for defamation by a Greek shipping tycoon-type named Victor Restis, who says the group lied when it accused him of doing business with Iran. The DOJ has taken the unusual step of inserting itself into this lawsuit to block the release of any information about UANI’s donors, ostensibly because doing so would compromise an investigation or investigations. So you can see why UANI is an interesting group. What’s going on in their donor list?
Clifton managed to figure out that one of UANI’s wealthiest backers is a fellow named Thomas S. Kaplan, who made billions investing in precious metals, whose prices reliably spike any time there’s some uncertainty or weakness in the global economy. Nothing introduces uncertainty into the global economy like some good old fashioned war, so while Mr. Kaplan is a long time supporter of Israel and his hostility to even a theoretical Iranian nuke may stem from that, it’s also entirely possible that he’s got some very bottom line reasons for backing the war party, and it just so happens that one of his investment partners runs UANI’s operations:
The nature of Kaplan’s ties to UANI aren’t entirely clear, but the links are apparent: Kaplan’s investment operations have shared several employees with UANI over the past six years, notably including UANI’s [Executive Director Mark] Wallace, who controls several mining ventures through the Tigris Financial Group with the billionaire. Together, the pair are betting big on investments in precious metals they say will retain or appreciate in value in an unstable economic and geopolitical environment. By Tigris’ own account, it stands to make money in the case of “political unrest in the Middle East” — exactly the kind of instability many experts think will become inevitable if naysayers of diplomacy with Iran have their way.
UANI and its allies “play the politics for the short-term but they don’t offer anything in terms of answers for the long-term,” a former Obama administration official who worked closely on Middle East policy told Salon. “You get the sense that … they’re not really interested in ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. Iran bashing for pro-Israel groups is very common, but I’m concerned that they don’t understand that failure to address this issue will ensure that Iran gets the bomb or we’re headed toward war. And a war in this region at this time will look more like World War III than a ‘cakewalk.’”
Clifton has more on the story in the Nation today; apparently, aside from his precious metals investments, Kaplan stands to profit directly from UANI’s attack on Victor Restis, as his wife’s family owns a shipping company that competes with Restis’s. Please, if this kind of intersection between the foreign policy establishment and the plutocracy interests/concerns/terrifies you, go read these pieces.