Last night the New York Times published a late night bombshell:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document.
Several officials said the highly classified analysis, written in January to President Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, came in the midst of an intensifying effort inside the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence agencies to develop new options for Mr. Obama. They include a set of military alternatives, still under development, to be considered should diplomacy and sanctions fail to force Iran to change course.
Officials familiar with the memo’s contents would describe only portions dealing with strategy and policy, and not sections that apparently dealt with secret operations against Iran, or how to deal with Persian Gulf allies.
I’m sure we will hear a lot of right wingers saying this is a failure of the Obama administration and his policies towards Iran, but let’s think a little further into history. Iran revved up their nuclear ambitions in 2003. A majority of President Bush’s tenure was having to figure out how to deal with a nuclear Iran, yet they never came up with a plan either. If so, then we would have a plan. So all this started before President Obama was even Senator Obama.
And 2003 is an important year to remember, since that’s the year that we invaded Iraq and changed the political landscape of that part of the Middle East. Any plans that existed at the time were pretty much nullified with the changes that were happening by the tip of our sword.
Before 2003 we were working on ways to deal with a nuclear Iran. Back in the 90’s, President Clinton was imposing strong sanctions against the state. Those sanctions weren’t always popular, and one big American company was finding ways around it to sell nuclear parts to Iran. That company was Halliburton and at the time it was headed by Dick Cheney.
Another issue this will bring up is the nuclear summit from last week. Republicans have already been blasting President Obama for holding the summit, saying he is dealing with “no-threats from a Cold War era”, however in the opening of the summit President Obama specifically said one of the goals was securing more loose nuclear material to prevent rogue nations and terrorists from acquiring the items. The United States is becoming a major holding facility for the nuclear products of most countries. That’s a plan that would have been championed by Republicans if if were only put forward by a Republican President.
So while the news that we don’t have a solid plan when it comes to dealing with Iran is disturbing, we should at least remember that President Obama has done much more to address nuclear threats from around the world in his 17 months in office, than President Bush did in his 8 years.
But I do find the release of this memo rather curious. It was written in January and is just now being “leaked out”. It almost seems like a coordinated leak. Perhaps one of the reasons for the timing is that the administration wanted to deal with all the other pressing problems addressed at the nuclear summit, before dealing with Iran. Think about John McCain last week, who proudly proclaimed that President Obama should be dealing with the economy instead of the nuclear issue. A very odd statement coming from the very hawkish Republican.
Then this week John McCain made another statement about Iran, saying that we should “pull the trigger” on them. Kind of hard to “pull the trigger” when the gun isn’t even loaded. Does John McCain remember what happened with the last country we invaded without any real plan? It only happened 7 years ago, so it should be fresh in his mind.
So what does this sudden leak have to do with the odd statements of John McCain over the past several days? Well it’s two fold. If the White House and Pentagon start working on military plans for Iran, we can certainly expect news of it to “leak” out. The left will worry that the administration is gearing up towards war. Instead it will actually be house keeping; doing something that the previous administration failed to do for almost 6 years. When Republicans try to say that President Obama should be focusing more on the economy, the White House can quickly ask the Republicans if they don’t feel that Iran is a threat. When John McCain keeps up his rhetoric about how we should be attacking Iran right now, the White House can counter with the fact that we can’t do it without a solid plan, something the former administration failed to do.
Over all leak could be another great political strategy by the Obama administration, and one that can easily make Republicans look very weak on national defense, while dealing with the very serious issue of Iran. Hopefully that is what it all means.
Republican Sen. John McCain says he didn't need to hear about a secret memorandum from the Pentagon to know the U.S. does not have a coherent and effective policy for dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
McCain on Sunday called for serious and meaningful sanctions against Iran.
Yes strong sanctions would be nice, but getting them past the U.N. has always been the obstacle – particularly China. This is something the Obama administration has been working very hard on. As matter of fact it was one of the key items at the nuclear summit – the very summit that McCain proclaimed a waste of time and that Obama should be focusing on the economy.
But even more interesting is how McCain is pushing for strong sanctions. He didn’t famously sing “sanction sanction sanction Iran”, it was “bomb bomb bomb Iran”. Now instead of military action, McCain wants to move back to sanctions? It was just this week that McCain was saying we should “pull the trigger on Iran”. Can John McCain keep his plans straight from one day to the next?