Monday, December 03, 2007

Planning for Defeat in Iran

From Newsweek, a depressingly stupid tale:
It has been a tough few years for the old Washington foreign-policy
establishment, the sort of moderate, non-ideological types who were reared to
believe that partisanship stops at the water's edge. [Secretary of Defense]
Robert Gates gives them hope that the pendulum is swinging back, that it is
possible to forge a foreign policy by consensus and common sense and not wishful
thinking or righteous zeal.

Right now, Gates is seen as the best insurance that the Bush
administration (read: Vice President Cheney) will not leave a legacy of ashes in
Iran. According to many former and current government officials who have
conferred with Gates publicly and privately, he takes the conventionally
accepted view that Iran should not be allowed to build nuclear weapons. He
pointedly refuses to rule out military force while calling for more-effective
economic sanctions. But the secretary of Defense has also told associates that
bombing Iran would create chaos in the oil region, unleash terrorism on Europe
and possibly the United States, and serve to strengthen, not weaken, the fragile
and fractious Iranian regime—while only postponing for a year or two its nuclear
ambitions.

To avoid that scenario, Gates has used his considerable bureaucratic
skills to lower the temperature on Iran. He has cautioned military commanders in
the Gulf to guard against the risk of accidents that might give a provocation
for war—the capture of a pilot, say, or a collision at sea. In recent weeks U.S.
commanders in Baghdad have intentionally sought to praise Tehran for being more
cooperative in Iraq. According to two separate sources who declined to be
identified discussing military plans, Gates has also pared down strike options
against Iran, cutting the targets to its nuclear facilities alone. It is a
mistake to make too much of this—the military is constantly being asked to
devise new options for civilian authorities. But Gates has also allowed the top
brass to make public their qualms about attacking Iran, which makes it that much
harder for the White House to steamroll them. This is classic Gates: no noisy
confrontations with the likes of Cheney, just low-key, pragmatic steps to avoid
sparking a conflagration.

This is wishful thinking of the worst sort.
If Iran is not stopped from building nuclear weapons, they will do so.
A nuclear Iran will "create chaos in the oil region, unleash terrorism on Europe and possibly the United States, and serve to strengthen, not weaken, the fragile and fractious Iranian regime" with impunity.
Faced with a nuclear Iran, nobody will give a damn whether the DoD was run with a pragmatic smirk in the final years of the Bush Administration. Not the American people, not our former allies among the Gulf Arabs, and not the phony cowards Gates is smooching up to. After that strategic failure, the best he can hope for is historical anonymity, and let the blame fall on President Bush.
Our strategic goals cannot be achieved by inertia and inaction. That is what the Democrats desire, and Gates seems ready to give it to them.
We are very badly served.

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