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Gates's shocking thinking on Iran--The un-Rumsfeld
Jerusalem Post ^ | 12-6-06

Posted on 12/06/2006 3:38:13 PM PST by SJackson

Now it falls to Bush to reveal if he shares Gates' thinking, or is still committed to a nuke-free Iran

Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates sailed through his confirmation hearings this week. Congress was looking for an "un-Rumsfeld," as The New York Times gleefully called Gates, and even an "un-Bush." Along with their enthusiasm, however, it is unfortunate that Gates's problematic testimony did not meet with more serious questioning.

While everyone was looking for Gates's exit strategy on Iraq, he said what he should have, namely that the objective - even if it is not now being met - is still to win and there will be no precipitous withdrawal before achieving that objective. No real surprises here.

The real news came from his answers on Iran, which raise serious questions about the direction of US policy.

When asked by a senator whether he thought Iranian President Ahmadinejad was "kidding" when he denied the Holocaust and called for "wiping Israel off the map," Gates responded: "No, I don't think he's kidding. But I think that there are, in fact, higher powers in Iran than he, than the president. And … while they are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for a nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent.

"They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons - Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west, and us in the Persian Gulf."

The senator followed up, "Can you assure the Israelis that they will not attack Israel with a nuclear weapon, if they acquire one?"

Gates responded coldly, "No, sir, I don't think that anybody can provide that assurance."

These are shocking responses, not so much for what they say about what the US will do, but for what they reveal about the thinking of the man poised to become the top defense adviser of the president of the United States. Gates's first instinct when asked about Iran's potential nuclear capability is not to explain why he views such a prospect as inimical to US interests, but why it might not be such a dangerous thing.

Gates assures us that although Ahmadinejad may be wacko, his Iranian leadership higher-ups have got to be more responsible. These moderate, reasonable, Iranian leaders, Gates calmly explains, have perfectly understandable reasons to want nukes to defend themselves. Not to worry, it's just the Cold War Iranian-style. Israel, the US, and Pakistan have nukes, why not Iran?

But what if this sunny analysis is wrong and Iran lobs a weapon of mass destruction at Israel? Well, that's a risk that Gates seems willing to take.

In another response Gates said, "I think that the consequences of a conflict - a military conflict with Iran could be quite dramatic. And therefore, I would counsel against military action, except as a last resort and if we felt that our vital interests were threatened."

Unfortunately, no senator thought to ask whether Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon itself would threaten America's vital interests. But it is not too hard to read between the lines of his response when asked to describe the consequences of a US attack on Iran: "While Iran cannot attack us directly militarily, I think that their capacity to potentially close off the Persian Gulf to all exports of oil, their potential to unleash a significant wave of terror both in the Middle East and in Europe and even here in this country is very real. They are certainly not being helpful in Iraq … but I think they could do a lot more to hurt our effort in Iraq.

"They could provide certain kinds of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological weapons, to terrorist groups. … They have the capacity to do all of these things, and perhaps more, that I just described."

Gates has now made the case for tolerating an Iranian nuclear weapon and against taking military action to prevent that eventuality. In doing so, he elicited no discernible alarm from his Senatorial inquisitors.

We wish one of them had pointed out that an Iranian nuclear weapon would dramatically increase both Teheran's capability to inflict increasing damage against US interests and the likelihood of Iran doing just that. Now it falls to President Bush to reveal whether Gates's thinking reflects his own, or whether he is still committed to preventing the world's most dangerous regime from obtaining the world's most dangerous weapons.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 12/06/2006 3:38:16 PM PST by SJackson
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
If you'd like to be on this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.

High Volume. Articles on Israel can also be found by clicking on the Topic or Keyword Israel. or WOT [War on Terror]

----------------------------

2 posted on 12/06/2006 3:39:23 PM PST by SJackson (had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out)
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To: SJackson
Did you see how fast they Confirmed him?
3 posted on 12/06/2006 3:40:38 PM PST by StoneWall Brigade (Happy 200th Birthday Robert E. LEE)
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To: SJackson

Bush has officially self-destructed by nominating Gates and listening to the Iraq Study Group.


4 posted on 12/06/2006 3:40:51 PM PST by Holden Magroin
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To: Holden Magroin
Bush has officially self-destructed by nominating Gates and listening to the Iraq Study Group.

IF he agrees with them, and the Gates appointment and Baker's role makes me think he might, I agree.

5 posted on 12/06/2006 3:41:51 PM PST by SJackson (had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out)
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To: StoneWall Brigade
Did you see how fast they Confirmed him?

Why wouldn't they?

6 posted on 12/06/2006 3:42:11 PM PST by SJackson (had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out)
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To: StoneWall Brigade

"Did you see how fast they Confirmed him?"

Like he was on rails. What's the confounded rush, I wonder?


7 posted on 12/06/2006 3:43:30 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: RegulatorCountry

is he the real fall guy? normally when they blo in so quick their exit is the same.


8 posted on 12/06/2006 3:46:09 PM PST by himno hero
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To: RegulatorCountry
What's the confounded rush, I wonder?

'Cause once he's confirmed, Rummy leaves.

9 posted on 12/06/2006 3:47:36 PM PST by atomicpossum (Replies must follow approved guidelines or you will be kill-filed without appeal.)
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To: SJackson

10 posted on 12/06/2006 3:49:29 PM PST by Gritty (Our victory in Iraq would be a greater defeat for America than Vietnam-Jihad Jaara, Al Aqsa Brigades)
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To: SJackson
It is best to listen with one's "third ear" on this matter. The Democrats have one problem and the Republicans another although they have some mutual interests.

Pelosi took steps to corral and keep in the nutroots antiwar faction of her party by endorsing Murtha for Majority Leader and then not using her influence and power to make this happen. Not a symptom of defeat but of success in blunting the nutrootsers influence.

When the President looked at the election results what was hinted became actual--a divided country in a time of war. Listen again to what Baker et al said. A bipartisan effort at unity is the major theme but with enough criticisms and implied failure to keep the peaceniks and nutroots in the corral again.

When faced with a challenge the President must decide what the overall goal is. He has chosen to win the war. True enough Rummy and Bolton have been thrown under the bus, but they are no longer the nidus of RAT attack. All attacks now must be on the President and this will be harder since it is hard to justify a full fledged defeat in Iraq by a full fledged frontal political assault on POTUS.

A good leader leads. He or she will sometimes make errors, suffer devastating losses but the fact that they are the ones leading should never be forgotten. It is easy to see the mistakes and errors when one does not have to make the life and death decisions the President does.

The President is doing his best to win overseas at the same time he has lost at home. Remember, he has lost not just the antiwar RATS but also a considerable segment of the Pubbie voters including almost all the Objectivists, Libertarians and Paleoconservatives. Not an easy task and I pray he will prevail.

11 posted on 12/06/2006 4:30:55 PM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

it seems to me that the iraq study group was set up to present a "realist" analysis and set of recommendations. that is why Baker was chosen as head of it.
who set it up? who chose the members?
i am assuming bush wanted political cover to pull out of iraq.
this is very similar to what nixon did with "vietnamization" of the vietnam war: reduce the US army role to that of advisors, and let the locals fight the bad guys. then pull out troops, and declare "peace with honor".
i recently read an article by brent scowcroft claiming that vietnamization would have worked (if the dem congress hadn't sabotaged it), and that we should use the same strategy in iraq.
i think this is what is going on: "iraqization".

there may not be any real alternative--it is hard for a democratic country to fight a war without public support.


12 posted on 12/06/2006 4:57:55 PM PST by drhogan
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To: drhogan

No "blue ribbon" committees in Washington are to diffuse responsibility and concentrate power. Nothing has changed. POTUS has the power and needs peace at home to wage war in Iraq.

The President is a class act politician and knows the above.


13 posted on 12/06/2006 5:40:51 PM PST by shrinkermd
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To: drhogan
In respect to Viet Nam my DEROS was 17 May 1969. You are right Nixon pulled the combat troops back and out in 1971. He won the election of 1972 against McGovern by carrying almost every state. I think he lost Mass and DC.

In 1975 the NVA invaded South Viet Nam with tanks. No one had believed the terrain compatible with tanks but they invaded with T 54s which were state-of-the art at that time. The South Vietnamese had M58 tanks retrofitted by Chrysler with flame throwers for city fighting. NO match.

The RAT Senate would not all President Ford to order in air power and then canceled the necessary funds for the South to fight on. A great tragedy and a greater treachery than one could believe by America.
14 posted on 12/06/2006 5:46:51 PM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

A year ago I might have agreed with you...but every human has their breaking point...I fear GW may have met his.


15 posted on 12/06/2006 5:48:21 PM PST by Hildy ("Death plucks my ear and says - LIVE - I am coming.....")
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To: Hildy

Perhaps. But I see him as being the prototypic "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" type. More definitively he takes anxiety and anger to blend into a fierce resolve to succeed. It is usually experienced as an emotional high and men at least find it almost addictive. That is why they do crazy dangerous things just for fun.

Good combat pilots and other dangerous occupations are filled with such individuals. They never break but they can be carried out feet first. That is what they will have to do with POTUS. You can shake his demeanor and confidence but not his resolve and joy in the challenge.


16 posted on 12/06/2006 5:55:37 PM PST by shrinkermd
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To: SJackson

Politicians and consituents who--out of cowardice/selfishness--want to allow a small ally to be overrun by Islamists will eventually find out that Iran's talk about Israel is nothing more than a ruse to divide us. Imagine the political and international scenario, if Israel is overrun.

Such politicians and interests (including market interests) will get my hostility instead of support, when their moment of truth comes. ...Nazis!


17 posted on 12/06/2006 6:05:41 PM PST by familyop (Essayons)
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To: SJackson; M. Espinola

On second thought, maybe the whole procession of events will be a blessing in disguise. If Israel further builds and maintains a great nuclear arsenal and anti-ballistic missile defense, Iran will go after its next object of conquest: those who are sending their forces to Lebanon.


18 posted on 12/06/2006 6:37:03 PM PST by familyop (Essayons)
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To: shrinkermd
You are exactly right. And the same dummy's who engineered that fiasco and tradgedy are the ones on this committee. A bunch of failures that should have faded away long ago.

If it were up to me, I would pull their govt. pensions and benefits and let them live as paupers for the rest of their lives.

19 posted on 12/06/2006 6:44:06 PM PST by Parmy
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To: shrinkermd
Dr. Gates probably skated through the confirmation since everybody wanted Rumsfeld out and the incoming Democrat led congress hasn't a realistic solution to the problems we face in Iraq. He has CIA and Nat'l Security Council creds from the first Bush administration and as such is probably pretty savvy of Iraq.

What can we draw on this.....?
He's W's sleeper, held in reserve till needed and the need came on Nov. 7th. Knows the ropes and the players, Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice....and James Baker.

Could this appointment be a political coup?
20 posted on 12/06/2006 7:14:02 PM PST by BIGLOOK (Keelhauling is a sensible solution to mutiny.)
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To: SJackson

----The senator followed up, "Can you assure the Israelis that they will not attack Israel with a nuclear weapon, if they acquire one?"

Gates responded coldly, "No, sir, I don't think that anybody can provide that assurance."---

The direction this taking is to throw the Israelis to the wolves. This will achieve three things for us. It will convince our enemies that we are low-born cowards and fools, open us up to aggression from every possible quarter, and it will assure eventual Armageddon.


21 posted on 12/06/2006 8:50:32 PM PST by claudiustg (Delenda est Iran)
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To: SJackson

So much negativism....so much....

Gates is a former DCI. He is a Washington insider.

His vocabulary and ours is different. He uses the 5th or 7th meaning of words, whereas most understand the 1st or 2nd.

Give it time. We will see. President Bush has made only a few bad Cabinet choices and they are already forgotten.

The SecDef is too important a choice for him to pick someone to counter his most important policy statements and speeches (several classics).

If Gates is against everything for which Bush has represented, I would expect to see Tony Snow's resignation forthwith, along with several others.

Peace, Yuletide and Prost Eins!


22 posted on 12/06/2006 10:33:11 PM PST by Prost1 (Fair and Unbiased as always!)
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To: familyop
It does appear Iran & the Assad régime coupled with Hizballah are attempting to carve out something resembling the new version of the Persian Empire, (Shia Caliphate).

You are right, as long as Israel continues strengthening her ABM along with expanding & updating general IRMB missiles systems, coupled with hopefully replacing Olmert, Iran better think twice about a first (and last) strike), but Tehran & Damascus will most likely continuing inciting ground warfare & terror attacks via proxies Hamas & Hezballah.

OPEC fuels jihadist terrorism.


23 posted on 12/07/2006 1:28:41 AM PST by M. Espinola (Freedom is never free!)
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To: shrinkermd

i'm not sure what you mean.

do you know who appointed the"iraq study group"?
was it the administration? or congress?
or did the group just set itself up?

the key to understanding the role of this group is finding out who set it up.
my guess is that the admin is already negotiating with both iran and syria, and that this report is designed to provide the cover for when the news leaks out.


24 posted on 12/07/2006 5:00:54 PM PST by drhogan
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To: drhogan

according to wikipedia, the isg was set up by congress.
here is an interesting comment from the wiki article:
"Because Baker is in close contact with the White House throughout the study group's activities, it is likely that any recommendations will have been "tacitly approved in advance" by the president"


25 posted on 12/07/2006 5:25:46 PM PST by drhogan
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