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NYT: In secret memo Gates complains US has no strategy to stop Iran nukes

The NY Times continues its recent tradition of publishing the contents of secret memos with information from one about our strategy, or lack thereof, for dealing with Iran:

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.

If true, it certainly isn’t unexpected.  In fact, the US has spent more time saying what it won’t do (i.e. taking things off the table) than what it will (“serious” sanctions).  However it appears that may be changing, finally.  If the Times is to be believed (which, anymore, is not an automatic) it is beginning to dawn on the brain trust that a) Iran isn’t at all intimidated by the prospect of sanctions b) feels no serious threat to their intentions and c) doesn’t plan on discontinuing them.

So this memo, if reported correctly,  is an apparent effort to ramp up a more coherent and comprehensive approach to dealing with Iran – an actual strategy.  And that includes some military options should “diplomacy and sanctions fail to force Iran to change course.”

Is there really anyone out there holding out hope that “diplomacy and sanctions” will have the desired effect?

Of course, and as expected, White House officials deny the absense of a strategy. National security adviser Gen. James Jones claims:

“On Iran, we are doing what we said we were going to do. The fact that we don’t announce publicly our entire strategy for the world to see doesn’t mean we don’t have a strategy that anticipates the full range of contingencies — we do.”

Except -according to the NYT  – the Secretary of Defense, certainly someone who would be privy to any military options, doesn’t seem to think we do.

For instance:

But in his memo, Mr. Gates wrote of a variety of concerns, including the absence of an effective strategy should Iran choose the course that many government and outside analysts consider likely: Iran could assemble all the major parts it needs for a nuclear weapon — fuel, designs and detonators — but stop just short of assembling a fully operational weapon.

In that case, Iran could remain a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty while becoming what strategists call a “virtual” nuclear weapons state.

Then what?  Testing nuclear weaponry’s design no longer requires actually detonation of a nuclear device.  Sophisticated computer simulations now serve that purpose.  So Gates’ point – if he made it – is entirely credible.  They could indeed become a “virtual” nuclear state without us ever knowing about it (although I doubt their arrogance would allow the Iranian government to pass up an opportunity to rub the world’s nose in it).

The Times also contends:

According to several officials, the memorandum also calls for new thinking about how the United States might contain Iran’s power if it decided to produce a weapon, and how to deal with the possibility that fuel or weapons could be obtained by one of the terrorist groups Iran has supported, which officials said they considered to be a less-likely possibility.

But if we’re talking the “full range of contingencies” certainly one which has to be taken seriously and for which a strategy has to be formed.

In fact, other than “senior officials” and the NYT, there’s not much to verify the memo exists or the strategy doesn’t.  And a Gates spokesman has even gone as far as to claim, in the Secretary’s name, that such a strategy does exit:

“The secretary believes the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran.”

So does the Gates memo actually say what the NYT says it says?

I’m inclined to say yes, despite the statement of the Gates spokesperson because of this:

Mr. Gates’s memo appears to reflect concerns in the Pentagon and the military that the White House did not have a well prepared series of alternatives in place in case all the diplomatic steps finally failed. Separately, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a “chairman’s guidance” to his staff in December conveying a sense of urgency about contingency planning. He cautioned that a military attack would have “limited results,” but he did not convey any warnings about policy shortcomings.

“Should the president call for military options, we must have them ready,” the admiral wrote.

That clearly indicates that at least Adm. Mullen didn’t believe the strategy included the necessary and appropriate military options.  And, as the NYT further reports, that seemed to be confirmed recently in some Senate testimony.  Speaking of the military contingencies against Iran, the Times says:

Administration officials testifying before a Senate committee last week made it clear that those preparations were under way. So did General Jones.

So I think it is fair to conclude that Sec. Gates may have written this memo that the NYT is reporting on and, in fact, that there isn’t yet a comprehensive long-range strategy to deal with a nuclear Iran.  To translate that a bit more, what that means is the administration’s focus has been almost exclusively on diplomacy and sanctions and Gates is making the case that those don’t appear they will yield the desired results and a more broad spectrum strategy which includes military contingencies be included and seriously considered.

He’s right.  But this may also be an effective way to get the word to Iran that time is running out and the military guys are beginning  be taken more seriously in discussions about how to react to Iran’s nuclear intransigence.

~McQ

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64 Responses to NYT: In secret memo Gates complains US has no strategy to stop Iran nukes

  • Headline: Gates claims the US has no strategy for Iranian nukes.  In story: Gates complains the US doesn’t have an effective long term strategy against Iranian nukes.  The former would be scandalous.  The latter would be effective, a Defense Secretary analyzing the strategy and claiming it is ineffective in the long term.  Indeed, despite the shrill tone of the blog post, the story quoted suggests a typical military assessment of strategy, which likely will lead to changes in strategy.  As it should be.

    • I doubt you would be so sanguine if this were a republican administration.

      • Actually, I went from being very negative on the Bush Administration’s foreign policy early on (pushing away allies, starting a war without adequate understanding of the difficulties, etc.) to rather positive at the end, even praising him for being able to recognize errors and shift  policy.    In fact, I think Obama’s foreign policy is not that much different than Bush’s policies by his second term.   Meanwhile, I was very critical of Clinton’s foreign policy, I even had a letter to the editor published in TIME in July 1999 very opposed to the Kosovo war, arguing that the bombing made the atrocities there worse.    Agree or disagree with me on any of those points, but it’s clear that party identification is irrelevant to my criticism.

        • “Agree or disagree with me on any of those points, but it’s clear that party identification is irrelevant to my criticism.”

          Unless it has anything to do with Obama.  Your claims of being non-partisan are not resonnating on these pages, Erb!  You have been an unrelenting shill for your Messiah since the days of the Campaign.  Time and again you have suggest Obama should do someting – Reach ot to the Republicans on Health Care – remember that one.  And time and again Obama has kept to his Far Left approach to governing – which mean to RULE rather than govern.  And either you have back him completely or became silent on the issue.

          I’m wrong?  Show me one instance where you have been critical of Obama regarding a major foreign policy issue.  Or even better, show me one instance where you have been critical of Obama regarding a major issue.  (*Crickets Chirping*)

          And you continue to claim to be a neutral observor?  LOL!

          • Oh get real.  The far left is mad at Obama for his centrism.   President Bush expanded power in the executive branch immensely, but suddenly it’s Obama who wants to “rule?”  What the heck does that mean?  In my own blog I originally disagreed with Obama’s stimulus package, though I later accepted it was unfortunately necessary.  I also had a post criticizing how the Obama campaign ‘marketed’ Obama, as if the campaign were to sell a product.   On foreign policy I do essentially agree with Obama’s approach, which is not that much different than Bush the Younger’s in his second term.  I disagree with his decision on Afghanistan (I’m more with Biden on that, he was arguing internally against the increase in troops).
            But what’s your point?  You don’t deny what I say, you seem to have such a case of ODS that anything positive about the President drives you batty.    Yes, I think he’s doing a good job and probably will end up being the left’s equivalent of Reagan.   But he’s got weaknesses too, certainly not a ‘messiah’ (again, that’s a weird canard of the right to criticize those who don’t hate Obama).

          • By the way, suggesting what a President should do is common for people stating an opinion.  I did that in the Bush Administration too (what should Bush do in Iraq, etc.)   I also just had a post a few days ago where I made specific suggestions about what Obama needs to do to work against deficits.  If he does not take that issue seriously with real action, I’ll be very critical.   You see, it’s best to look at the substance, not the person.  That’s why I didn’t give into BDS and was able to recognize that Bush was doing a decent job by the second term.   If you fixate too much on individuals, you’ll not be able to effectively understand the actual substance.

          • Obama is an awful president, and anyone who doesn’t get that is an idiot.

            Erb, your crush on Obama was obvious when you bashed Palin during the campaign. It is clear that you are simply a shill.

    • I doubt you would be so sanguine if you had any clue what you were talking about.  The issue regarding Iranian Nukes has been on the table for years and the only reason there is no long term strategy to deal with it is not that strategies have not been suggested or even proposed – it is simply that the Administration has rejected any strategy that has been put forward by DOD to date.

      You may have some credentials in Political Science (evidence of which is meager to date) but you have no credentials in military strategy or tactics.  So when you say things are “As it should be” then you are simply talking out your ass!

      • You really need to think before you post SShiell.   There was no effective long term strategy under the last President either.  Gates’ critique is not just about Obama, it’s about US policy, and it includes the Bush years.   In fact, we’re closer to sanctions on Iran than we ever were while Bush was President.  That’s not to criticize Bush, only to note that this is not just about Obama.   To say that the Administration has rejected any strategy from the DOD  is something you’ll need to back up with evidence.  Obama has a great working relationship with Petraeus, and kept Gates on to keep strategic stability.   Do you even follow this more than superficially?

        • You really need to think before you post SShiell.   There was no effective long term strategy under the last President either.  Gates’ critique is not just about Obama, it’s about US policy, and it includes the Bush years

          >>> Except Obama is president NOW and it’s on him.

          Remember?

        • If you recall, Bush encouraged the EU-3 meetings with Iran, and even went as far as to suggest strongly that once Iran agreed to halt enrichment, that direct talks and relations with the USA were on the table. This is as good as it gets for Iran, but they did not take the deal. The Europeans were going to build them a light water reactor for free. Again, the Iranians nixed the deal.
          Essentially that means no matter what you offer them, they prefer nukes. (Sort of understandable if you had Saddam firing gas and citybusters at you during the Iran-Iraq war.)
          Now, here comes Obama, who in his Christ-like wisdom, thinks that Bush was such a nasty cowboy and if Obama can just say a few words, Iran will see the light and negotiate.
          So far, the results have been the exact same: Iran keeps going nuclear while spinning talks when needed to buy time.
          The only criticism with the  Bush policy might have been to have a prepared opening to Iran when Iraq was being invaded. But personally, I doubt it would have worked. I don’t think the rulers of Iran are interested in being friends. I think they are interested in nuclear weapons. This is bad news.
          The next step will be acceptance of their nukes or a military option. China and Russia don’t care. I don’t think a military option works either unless Iran does something first. Maybe Obama could pull it off “Nixon to China” style.

          • Obama’s approach seems to be different.  He’s actively working to get Russian and Chinese support for at least a limited sanctions regime, which is probably the best thing possible.  I suspect there will be a guarantee to Israel too, though the US will expect something in return.   Obama’s foreign policy is actually a bit Kissinger-esque.

          • A bit Kissinger-esque only in the sense that he’s fighting not just the last war, but three wars back from that.

            Sanctions are meaningless. Iran wants nuclear weapons, and the fact is, Scott, that you don’t have any objection to that. Or have you changed your opinion?

            Nations have military force precisely for a situation like the one in Iran. You don’t wait for a terrorist state to get itself established with nuclear weapons.

          • Russia and China are not going to seriously go along with Obama.

            Reality is that the bad guys smell weakness in Obama. They will do as they wish. They may, or may not, show open contempt for Obama in the process. My guess is that they will show contempt. And I can’t blame them for this, either.

        • To paraphrase you, “You really need to read before you post SShiell.   There was no effective long term strategy under the last President either.”

          If you had read my post, you would have caught the words, “The issue regarding Iranian Nukes has been on the table for years . . . ”  Notice the word years is highlighted?

          Bush had a strategy regarding Iran and it centered on the EU-3 talks.  Obama comes along and calls Bush a cowboy.  Obama says he has a better idea and if only given a chance he can resolves this issue – no problem!  Well, guess what?  PROBLEM!

          “To say that the Administration has rejected any strategy from the DOD  is something you’ll need to back up with evidence.”

          Gate’s leaked memo is all the evidence I need.  I work in the Pentagon and deal with issues every day and there is no such thing as an issue lacking a plan or an entire series of plans.  As has been stated on these pages previously, war plans is what the Pentagon does and does regularly.  The fact that the Obama Adminstration does not ahve a strategic plan for Iran only means he has not accepted anything produced by the Pentagon to date.  It has got nothing to do with his relationship with Petraeus or Gates.  It has everything to do with Obama and his failure to get Iran to the negotiationg table which was the extent of his “Strategy” for the campaign.

          Do you even follow this more than superficially?

          From the evidence of your writings here, I can ask the same of your abilities as a Professor?

          • Except, of course, there is no evidence for your rant, SShiell.   Gates said the US strategy for Iran was not effective in the long term.   His job is to assess that, and bring such issues forward.   That’s normal.  That strategy is likely the same one that existed under President Bush.   Again, you rant, hurl insults, but have no substance.  I believe your ODS is clouding your ability to perceive the issue clearly.

          • “I believe your ODS is clouding your ability to perceive the issue clearly.”

            Much as your own Messiah-worship of your Obama-God clouds your own vision.  Everything that opposes Obama has to be ODS in your eyes.  Instead of stooping to the “You are a racist” you instead call on ODS?

            I challenged you to show me where you opposed Obama on foreign policy and you replied – good for you Erb.  You are not quite the ObamaBot I thought you were. 

            You asked me for evidence in my comment and I replied Gate’s memo was evidence enough and you then went on a rant of your own about my ODS!   

            In part you are right – it is Gate’s job to assess the issues.  But it is not Gate’s job to leak the report.  Why would he do so?  Fear his report would be repressed?  Have other anti-administration reports been suppressed?  No?  What about the EPA study that questioned the EPA position regarding CO2 as a hazardous material – no actually the study called the EPA position completely false.  Reports like that?  Why else would Gates leak the report?

            There is a cause and effect kind of thing going on here and it is also the same with the positions you take.  Much of your defense of Obama does not pass the laugh test here and your continuance to defend the man begs a question.  Can you really deal with debate or once you have taken a position you are nailed to it and all those who oppose you are suffering from ODS?  Just look at the various responses you have made just within this entry.  ODS for me – maybe.  But you seem to be the one with a Sydrome all your own – OMS – Obama Messiah Syndrome.

  • McQ: “… there isn’t yet a comprehensive long-range strategy to deal with a nuclear Iran.  To translate that a bit more, what that means is the administration’s focus has been almost exclusively on diplomacy and sanctions and Gates is making the case that those don’t appear they will yield the desired results and a more broad spectrum strategy which includes military contingencies be included and seriously considered.
    “He’s right.  But this may also be an effective way to get the word to Iran that time is running out and the military guys are beginning  be taken more seriously in discussions about how to react to Iran’s nuclear intransigence.”

    I think that the likely purpose of this leak is as an expression both from and to the national security apparatus that the White House is willfully neglecting national security, in this case vis a vis Iran. That’s the most front burner issue, and this story comes just days after that ridiculous nonproliferation conference at which Iran wasn’t even on the agenda. It follows an article a few months ago by former DCI Gen. Michael Hayden that this administration was essentially a danger to national security, one of the most strongly worded, and of course under-noted, open denunciations by a senior member of the national security establishment of willfullly dangerous national security negligence by a White House I can recall. Far from a policy critique, Hayden’s article was a red flag not to, but about, the administration.

    In other words, all the surface behavior, the reneging on the ABM arrangements with the Poles and Czecks, the odd behavior toward allies and the high signs of “we don’t care” to enemies, the idiotic and dangerous new nuclear policy, etc., is matched by the below the surface behavior.

    Gates himself probably authorized this leak, and he’ll send out some weak denials, but for a bureaucrat like him this is the equivalent of signaling a crisis. It went to the Times because that gives it more credibility than the national security establishment friendly Washington Post, where Hayden’s article appeared.

    This is a story aimed at the national security establishment and the politicians who work with it and oversee it in the Congress.

    And it strikes me as a perfectly logical outcome of what the Obama presidency has been since it began. Its big mistake, the one that tipped off that these people are unconstrained in their recklessness, was the decision to try KSM in a civilian court in NYC.

    That filled in all the remaining blanks for me. Nothing surprises me about this latest disclosure.

  • Frankly this president is surrounded by a legion of erb’s. I believe this to be their most tragic attribute. The emasculated europians who feel that they have a better global view of the world, retard this president. Thier views fill his head with bockmist and einhorn’s.

  • Didn’t Bush have plans? Dust them off. Seriously, do they shred all the work done by previous administrations?
    I also don’t see what you can do about a virtual bomb capability. Unless you want to repeat “no smoking gun” like in Iraq.
    By the way, according to Bruce Buena de Mesquite (sp.?) a political scientist, this is Iran’s goal. Not a bomb, but the capability of a bomb. I wonder how easy it is to stop there though and not just make a couple bombs…you know, just to make sure its possible…

    • Yes, of course there are military plans always on the shelf for everything, and they get updated routinely. That’s what they do at the Pentagon.

      What this leak is telling the national security establishment is that the CINC and his outfit in the White House have no evolving strategy to deal with the failure of their half-assed diplomacy, and that it’s way more than just worrisome. Otherwise we would never see anything like this. Gates is a tight-lipped bureaucrat, and nothing gets away from him for leaking that he doesn’t want leaked. But this isn’t meant for you and me. This is a warning to the national security establishment that something is wrong with this White House and that it’s not likely to get fixed because that’s the way the White House wants it.

      Look for more of this kind of thing.

      • Yes, of course, when the bureaucrats don’t agree with the elected officials, they have to leak embarrassing documents or create them to get their way.
        I agree that Obama is probably clueless about Iran, but the leaks have to stop. I doubt even Bush would have bombed Iran, and a virtual nuke sounds like virtually no way to stop them. “He was thinking of buying a gun, so I had to shoot him” is how that plays in the global press.
        You may be right about Gates…if this is his cry for help, then we are in trouble. I would guess its just a disgruntled righty version of those guy who leaked against Bush.
        Gates needs to quit in 2011 and write his tell all book to come out Oct. 2012.
         

        • This isn’t a political matter. Gates isn’t trying to embarrass Obama. Gates is an insider and as neutral as anyone can get in that game. It’s not a cry for help. It’s a warning. He’s taling to his national security peers and the sourrounding apparatus.

          And I don’t think that Obama is clueless. I think that he is determined to undermine the American role in the world by neglecting that role. He said something to the contrary this week, but listen to the way he phrased it.

          Bush left this matter behind, but he handled his share of serious matters. Now we have a president who is interested in systematically disassembling American influence in the world. And into that vacuum?

          • The repair job for the next administration will be monumental.  At this rate its unlikely there won’t be some tragedy or tragedies to come.
             
            And the pisser is that Obama is playing kick the can in that he’s out in 2.5 years which might work thanks to a media will put things squarely on the next administration.

          • I don’t believe that Obama’s intent is anything as benign as kicking things down the road.

            Like I’ve said around these parts before, the normative terms of American politics do not apply to this diabolical man.

          • I fully expect that he intends to diminish America internationally.  Unfortunately we have a severe absence of common sense.  The consequences of his policies or lack of policy won’t be attributed to him which is my lament.

        • There’s a difference between war and crime and the standard for acting is different.  A nuclear Iran means thousands, tens of thousands, or more die if we ever have to put them down.  And it quite likely that would be a shared body count unlike Iraq.

          • I am aware of that. Public opinion, the MSM, and the “global community” seem to think the phrase “World’s Policeman” is meant literally.

    • No, but for the Obama Adminstration to “dust off” any Bush Strategy wopuld be to admit to the world that The Messiah is not so messianic any more – nor has he ever been.  Obama has to date been criticized mightily by the Left for taking too many Bush-era policies as his own after spending the entire ’08 campaign complaining of their ineffectiveness and failure. 

      Yet time and again, he has adopted them for his own because they work – Warrentless Surveillance being the foremost one that comes to mind.  Now to turn to one regarding Iran – Obama’s personal baby, soon to be his Waterloo from my perspective – will be to admit to the world Bush was right all along.  And that is heresy!

      • Unless it’s a strategy to use bunker busters on the Iranian nuclear facilities, then there’s no strategy to dust off. Iran won’t stop doing what it’s doing. It has to be stopped. Sanctions will do nothing. The Iranians don’t care about that. So that whole angle is a holding action leading back to square one.  The Iranians have not and are not going to back off. They are not looking for a deal. They want nuclear weapons. And they have been outsourcing terrorism for thirty years with nearly complete impunity.

        The Israelis have been warned off, though I think that eventually they will have to act.  And I don’t believe Obama would even dream of taking out the facilities. I hope he surprises me. Someone can argue that taking out billions of dollars of technology built up over years accomplishes nothing, to which I respond, let’s give it a try and see. I don’t want Hezzbollah getting a nuclear weapon, let alone Iran.

      • I think they get away with it. They get away with a lot. Its mind boggling.

      • Yes, Obama has correctly kept many Bush era policies.   Bush did a lot of things right, his choice to go to war in Iraq was his undoing, along with his continuation of policies of deregulation of the financial industry (which Clinton also did), which lead to an economic meltdown of historic proportions.   Since no one consider Obama a messiah (lately you’re the only one saying that), he’ll probably be given credit for his realism by maintaining many of Bush’s policies.

        • What an amazing imbecile you are, Scott.

          How you pack so much blindness, disembling, and abdication of thought into one paragraph is impressive indeed.

          Just take the “no one considers Obama a messiah.” That’s a willful disregard not only of how he was presented and the things even supposedly half-sane people like Evan Thomas (“he’s like a god”) said about  him, but the way he presented himself. It is true that most people now think of him as an oaf and a narcissist who can’t shut his mouth long enough to bother thinking (hmm, sounds vaguely familiar), and that the glow around him has faded. But everyone still actively using their memory knows how he was sold.

          And your comments about Bush policy is just you blowing smoke up your own ass, in case you had no clue how that’s received.

      • Obama asked for Bush’s stratagy on A’stan, and also wanted it kept quite that he was asking for it.

  • Did I just stumble upon Obama’s strategy? When his initial pie-in-the sky policy fails, he says, “Get me Bush’s old policy, stat!” Man, they must have buried Bush’s Afghanistan surge policy somewhere, because it took Obama 6 months to find it.

    • Bush’s policy on Iran got nowhere, and then his policy became, “I’ll let the next President handle this one.”

      But once the Iranians go nuclear, it isn’t just about Iran. Then you’re dealing with all the states in the region and all the other nutbag regimes that Iran collaborates with, like Sudan and Venezuela.

  • No, Bush’s policy was to use the EU-3 negotiations, which failed, but proved that enticements were not enough to make Iran stop their nuke program. So, now we are doubling down with Obama.
    I don’t think you can stop Iran or North Korea from getting nukes. The price is too high (until they use them, in which case, the world will say “why didn’t the USA stop them!” Such is the nature of life.

  • If I was in the position the Israelis are in, I would take the leak of this memo as a signal that the cavalry is not only not coming, it isn’t even anywhere to be seen, and that it is time to act on my own.

    If I was in the national security establishment of the U.S., I’d be looking for ways to contain the damage this president clearly intends to do to American national security. And I’d like to be looking at a whole range of options.

  • So really, the Defense Secretary thinks that we need to rethink things, given that Iran is acting like a poopyhead and we are no longer distracted by overthrowing sovereign nations, so we should really pay attention to it.  As he should.  Which folks are, as they should.  So what’s the story here?  That the military strategists are actually doing their job instead of ignoring the absence of exit strategy and attacking Iraq anyway?  Instead of ignoring the lessons that should have been learned concerning the nature of the Afghan people from the Soviets’ experience there some several decades ago, and invading them anyway, with no long-range hope of ever “winning” a war there, but only in bankrupting the asparagus farmers in the northwestern US?  I mean, really.  What’s the news?  It doesn’t seem like news to me, just alarmist bs.
    Tired of shrill talk radio and Baptist ministers, who think everything has to be explained to you because you’re too dumb to make sense of it yourself?  Head over to http://nikflorida.org.  Where we don’t tell you WHAT to think, just to think.
    We treat you like an intelligent grown-up and let you do your own thinking.  Now isn’t that a refreshing change?

    • You need to stop the breathless blog pimping.

      You can leave your empty-content comments. After all, we’ve let Erb do that for years. But you’re getting close to spam-type comments. We do delete spam around here.

      In every comment, you automatically get a link to your silly leftist blog in your name at the top of the comment. That’s enough.

    • Hey, McQ – how much longer are we gonna let this moron/troll  (I realize I am being redundent) shill for his website?

  • Two things are painfully obvious

    1) Iran is going to get nukes on Obama’s watch if he has any say in the matter
    2) Israel will have to take matters into their own hands.

    Not gonna be good

  • This is no surprise. The President has been slow to move to other options that will may actually yield results. Sanctions have not and will continue not to have an impact as long as Iran is able to obtain anything they want through the black markets. It is only when we cut off this supply that way may actually do something to get a response. Military action may be needed in this instance.

  • One wonders what Tehran makes of this memo (I assume that they get a subscription to the Times!).  If I was them, I’d read it as a green light to do what I please: “The Americans have no plan to deal with me other than more talk.  Therefore, they are not serious about stopping me, and with any luck, by the time they start to get serious, it will be too late.”

    Tehran is in a race, and their best opponent hasn’t even started walking over to the starting blocks.

    • Iran’s calculation since 2005 is that the US can’t effectively stop them.   We don’t even know where all their facilities are, bombing might actually hurt our strategic position, make sanctions impossible, solve nothing, and unleash more violence.
      In the real world, there are no simple answers.  A lot of people like to feel tough behind a keyboard saying “just bomb them and be done with it,” but if it were so easy, it would have been done.    That’s the situation Bush faced, that’s what Obama faces.   Both have a variant strategy of trying to make it in Iran’s best interests not to develop an actual nuclear weapon.    That does have a chance to work.   Iran knows that even if they had a bomb, they couldn’t match Israel’s arsenal, and it would be relatively useless.    They do have a real interest in nuclear energy (oil states would be rational to adopt nuclear energy, such as Kuwait’s deal with France today), and they have economic problems.   Obama wants to get China and Russia to put some real pressure on Iran, and he might be able to pull it off.    But that’s the best option, there is no deus ex macchina to solve the problem (military action), not for the US, and not for Israel.   Otherwise, it would have already been done.

      • Every time I think that “Scott can’t get any dumber,” you prove me wrong.

        “In the real world, there are no simple answers.”

        Actually, the real world is full of simple answers, but vis a vis Iran there are many difficulties. Knowing where most if not all of their nuclear facilities are located isn’t one of them.

        But my more pertinent question would be: When was your last visit to the real world, Scott? You live in the fossilized world of academentia, backwoods division. I’ve never seen you so much as familiar with your cyber-surroundings. Lost in your own faculty lounge loucheness, you are a leading citizen of unreality and laziness.

        • LOL!  Martin, you really are showing your ignorance on this.   It’s been widely admitted that we can’t be sure of where their nuclear facilities are, and the difference between decoys and the real thing.    You seem to think Bush, the Pentagon (which has gamed out an attack on Iran, which turned out really bad), Obama and the foreign policy establishment somehow can’t figure out that it would be easy to just take out Iran’s nukes.   You’re lost in fantasy (which is why your predictions are almost always wrong).

          • No such thing has been “widely admitted.” There has been concerned speculation that all of the locations for the nuclear program have not been located. Do you see the difference? Are you never embarrassed at the shallowness of the way you think and write?

            This isn’t like Iraq, where the existence of the program was hidden. The Iranians are admitting what they are doing, and between the satellites, the signals intel, and the human intel, there are not a lot of secrets about Iran. It’s a target rich environment, and there is no need to achieve perfection.

            The problems dealing with Iran have to do with the Russian peacock, not the Iranian one. And the Russians have an Islamic terrorist problem of their own, which they will deal with far more brutally than the Israelis are going to have to deal with Iran. Because a terror state with nuclear weapons is another matter entirely than a terror organization with semtex.

            There’s a third peacock involved in this. The one in the White House. He’s got a self-esteem problem. Too much of it. The excessive self-regard of the narcissist. Finally, Scott, a president who thinks like you.

          • And just yesterday, the perfectly concise and accurate statement from the CJCS:
            =====
            NEW YORK, April 18 (Reuters) – The nation’s top military officer said on Sunday that a U.S. strike against Iran would go “a long way” to delaying its nuclear program but that he considered doing so his “last option” right now.

            “Military options would go a long way to delaying it,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters after speaking at a forum at Columbia University in New York.

            “That’s not my call. That’s going to be the president’s call,” he added. “But from my perspective … the last option is to strike right now.” (Reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Jackie Frank)
            =====

            Perfectly timed with Gates’s leaked memo that the WH has no strategy, the military says it’s ready on its end.

            And Mullen is, of course, low-balling the potential for a good outcome.

      • Obama is not going to pull off any success with Russia or China. They know he’s weak. They will walk all over him. They are already walking all over him.

  • If the Chinese and Russians ever agree on sanctions, will we get the same people howling about the misery and suffering inflicted on the Iranian people that we did during the sanctions on Sadaam Hussein? Those sanctions were sooo effective.

    Sanctions don’t have a very good record of effectiveness.

    • timactualIf the Chinese and Russians ever agree on sanctions, will we get the same people howling about the misery and suffering inflicted on the Iranian people that we did during the sanctions on Sadaam Hussein?

      Another question is, will any sanctions become another case of UN fraud like Oil For Food?

      But you’re right about a couple of things:

      1.  The left will howl about the sanctions

      2.  The sanctions won’t work

      As I’ve written before, the mullahs essentially hold their own people as hostages.  Our beef is NOT with the Iranian people any more than it was with the people of Afghanistan or Iraq, who were suffering under bloodthirsty, despotic regimes.  Since we’re not allowed to kill off the individuals who are causing the trouble (and this is often MUCH easier said than done, anyway), we’re left with the options of causing widespread suffering through sanctions or war.  Helluva set up…

  • Don, even Republicans know Palin was a horrible choice by McCain, she’s not at all qualified to be President.   Even McCain’s aides were bashing Palin…during the campaign!

    • She is more qualified than Obama. Still. Even after his first year of on the job training, he still lacks her skills as an executive.

      Before the election, even Obama couldn’t come up with a good argument that he was more qualified than her. Or rather, he couldn’t come up with a good argument that he was AS qualified as her. The experience he put forth was his experience running his presidential campaign. His arguments demonstrated very clearly why he was such an awful choice, and anyone paying attention would fully expect that his administration would be a serious clusterfu*k.

    • Let’s stipulate that Palin was a horrible choice by McCain.

      But never so horrible a choice as Obama was by Democrats. Not qualified to be president, for sure. But worse than that, absolutely disqualified for his adult lifetime association with a Marxist, racist, and black supremacist church. Yes, I know, Scott, he only went the Klan rallies because they were run by his kindly uncle, but he never lit any of the crosses.

      Disgraceful candidate. Catastrophic president. But, finally, a president who thinks like you, Scott.

      • Do you actually consider her a horrible choice by McCain? I consider her to be one of his few good choices during the campaign. Oh, his quick response to the Russia invasion of Georgia was spot on (and Obama’s by contrast, clumsy and fumbled, and he hasn’t improved).

        • I’m stipulating, giving up the point, to make the point about Obama.

          Was Palin a horrible choice? No, she was a superb choice. The McCain campaign was a shoddy operation in my opinion, both weak and afraid to do what it had to do to win. I think it was a reflection of McCain, who always played the wild-eyed maverick but was a serious capitualition artist when it came to the other side. He ran with a maverick narrative and capitulated with his campaign.

          Palin, I’m afraid, once she got out of the climate controlled booth, lost her Annie Oakley charm and started talking like a public school bureaucrat, often overstating the obvious while making no obvious sense.

          I don’t want to see her as a presidential candidate, not unless she learns to get a straight sentence out of her mouth, but I would take her in a heartbeat not only over Obama, but over McCain.

          But the bottom line for me is that I want much better than her as a candidate, not perfect, but straight of sentence.

      • OK, people who scream wild accusations about Obama (which cause all but the far right to roll their eyes) think Palin was a good choice (apparently dismissing all the inside info about her that has since come out).      I think you guys are in a different reality — but it’s clear you have defined it in particular ideological terms and won’t give up your fear and demonization, so I hope you have fun with it.