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Why I Am On the Center-Right: A Biographical Sketch

Why I Am On the Center-Right: A Biographical Sketch
Raymond Tanter, center, then president of the Iran Policy Committee at a press conference to present information on Iran's new "major secret" nuclear site in 2010. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
 

By Thursday, 18 June 2020 12:52 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Editors of Newsmax invited me to pen this biographical sketch. Breaking news about protests at home and abroad illustrate my place in the kaleidoscope on the center-right in American politics.

After the police killed an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in May, clashes between protesters and security personnel broke out in such cities as Minneapolis, New York City and Atlanta, inter alia, and have spread to other major urban areas and increase with each killing.

Similarly, as Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran cracked down on demonstrators of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, protests increased in intensity, spread to other Iranian cities and attracted larger numbers to resist security forces.

As a self-defined member of the center-right in American politics, I'm appalled by both the videos of policemen killing unarmed minorities and shocked by actions of agents provocateurs.

Now, let's turn to my evolution as a card-carrying member of the center-right in American politics.

I ran for Congress in the Republican Primary in November 1992, in Michigan. Although I didn't win, the election was close, and I supported the winner.

A signature moment in American politics is when winners and losers band together, after a hard-fought campaign. I raised about twice as much money as all other candidates combined, mostly from the pro-Jewish community due to my strong ties to Israel.

Former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld sent the first check for my campaign — $1,000. I worked for his campaign for Congress when I was a treasurer of the Young Republicans Club on the North Shore of Chicago, the city of my birth, and later became a member of the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington, D.C.

Because "Money is the Mother's Milk of Politics," I assumed it would provide a bounce, which it did. That boost reminds me of former Ohio U.S. Sen. Mark Hanna, who quipped, "There are two things in politics: The first is money, and I can't remember the second!"

I served on the National Security Council as an official during the Reagan-Bush administration with my friend, Robert "Bud" McFarlane. This experience was one of the reasons National Public Radio and major TV stations invited me to be a commentator on the war.

Another friend is Jim Woolsey, former director of Central Intelligence.

Jim defines his role as "skunk at the garden party!" When all the heads were nodding and agreeing a particular policy was achieving great results, he would have the unenviable role of pointing out that the situation on the ground wasn't so rosy.

During the 9/11 attacks, I had an open mic to discuss al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations on CBS Radio and sometimes on television. My focus on anti-terrorism and counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a reason I was asked to be a commentator.

I was a fellow at the Aspen Institute in Colorado during 9/11. Most of the participants were from abroad. Not surprisingly, some said America deserved the attacks. I countered that the enemy was responsible for the assault, and we were the victims.

Oprah Winfrey heard me on CBS and invited me to debate Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait to seize its oil on her highly-rated TV program with millions watching.

The high point in the debate before a studio audience of about 400 women and men was when Oprah opened the discussion with: "OK Professor, you're supposed to be so smart, tell me why we should send our soldiers to save Kuwait?"

I responded, "When friends and allies dial 911, they get 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and we answer the phone and come to save them."

Following my appearance on Oprah's show, Admiral "Bud" Zumwalt, U.S. Navy, noticed me. Zumwalt appointed me to the Civilian Executive Committee, which allowed me to sail with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific and the Fifth Fleet in the Indian Ocean.

As a student of Iran and its major opposition groups, I was thrilled to sail near the six-kilometer-wide Strait of Tiran, between the Egyptian mainland and Tiran Island, which separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea.

Also, I was a guest of the Shah of Iran's think tank, where I gave lectures on Iran. A humorous point of my visit to Iran was when I went to the Israeli Consul in Tehran: "I am Prof. Ray Tanter." An Israeli then said, "'There's a Black Panther at the door," causing widespread amusement among those inside. Yet, the door opened, and I was warmly welcomed.

CNN, and the major network channels — NBC, ABC, and CBS — invited me to be an expert commentator. Wolf Blitzer of CNN took some lectures with me while I was on the faculties of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem six times and Tel Aviv University twice.

While I was on the faculty as a visiting professor at Stanford, I commuted to the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica to work on Vietnam, At Stanford, I became acquainted with former Secretary of State Condi Rice.

I see Condi as center-right, as I view her business partner Steve Hadley, who served four years as assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. Hadley and I are members of Christ Church Georgetown and served as members of a search committee to locate a new minister.

In conclusion, consider a tale that explains why I am center-right. A woman approached Honest Abe to ask why he ordered Southern soldiers to be treated so well. He replied, "If I can make my enemy my friend, then I have excised my enemy." I follow this rule each day of my life.

Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. Read Raymond Tanter's Reports — More Here.

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Honest Abe once said, "If I can make my enemy my friend, then I have excised my enemy."
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