Republican megadonor Foster Friess is shifting his sights from political campaigns to a military campaign: to fight ISIS and save Kurdish lives.
Behind the scenes, the conservative Christian has been traveling to the Middle East to support the vulnerable Kurdish minority in Iraq, and then coming back to the U.S. to lobby for arming and training their militias, known as the Peshmerga. These forces are on the front lines of the war with ISIS.
“They are fighting our fight and we have treated them disgracefully in terms of the armaments we have provided. Not only am I embarrassed to be an American, I’m actually ashamed,” Friess told The Daily Beast. Arming the Kurds, he added, would help “defeat a ghastly evil that is running amok.”
Some pro-Kurdish advocates have interpreted Friess’s interest to mean that he wants to raise a volunteer military force to aid the Kurds, or arm them through private funds. But Friess told The Daily Beast that is not on the table, at least not for now.
One of his informal advisers, retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ernie Audino, seem to be singing from a slightly different hymnal.
“There is no reason why this monopoly [for equipping] should be owned by the U.S. government. I think there’s a role for private organizations to generate private support to help the Kurds,” said Audino, who as a soldier was stationed in Kurdistan for a year. “Foster and I are certainly talking about it, in concept… No one’s pulled the trigger on it.”
You might remember Friess as the big money behind Rick Santorum’s failed Presidential run, or his infamous “Aspirin between the knees as contraception” interview.