Secretary of defense Robert Gates told the president last winter that we had no effective strategy for dealing with the Iranian nuclear weapons program. According to the New York Times Secretary Gates thoughtfully made some suggestions, the details of which we do not know. However we do know something about some of the topics he addressed: secret actions that might be taken, how to present in Iran’s strategy to other countries in the region, and what to do if, despite all our efforts, Iran does in fact build and perhaps even deploys nuclear weapons.
It was only logical; Obama had set a late December deadline for an Iranian response to his offer for negotiations and the deadline had passed. Nor should anyone be surprised to discover that the president had not crafted any long term Iran policy. No president has done that since 1979. I am told that Obama in fact had anticipated that his call for a new start in the relationship with Iran would be rejected, and he intended to move on to organize effective international sanctions against Tehran. He hoped that, having demonstrated a genuine willingness to negotiate, it would be easier to gain international support for “tough” measures.
But even sanctions were clearly destined to fail. So the Secretary of Defense felt obliged to deliver his unwanted message: “your hopes have been dashed, and you can’t kick the Iranian can down the road any further. It’s time to fish or cut bait.” I hope that he also said, “in the meantime, our guys are getting killed and maimed by Iranian weapons used by Iranian, Afghan and Arab terrorists who have been trained in Iran.”
Bob Gates’ most recent service demonstrates, once again, that God has a very refined sense of humor. Gates entered the Bush Administration to oversee the retreat from Iraq. Shortly thereafter, W opted for the surge, so Gates oversaw that. In so doing, he developed a proper appreciation and considerable affection for our fighters. I have seen him fighting back tears when speaking of the dead and wounded. He seems now in many ways the opposite of the guy who once talked as if we had lost Iraq and should make a deal with Iran.
Destiny has a funny way of playing pranks on us.