Gates on a Nuclear Iran

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

From Reuters:

Sanctions against Iran are biting hard and triggering divisions among its leadership, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday, as he argued against a military strike over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran has agreed to meet with a representative of the six big powers for the first time in more than a year over its uranium enrichment drive, but diplomats and analysts see little chance of a breakthrough in the long-running dispute.

Gates said he saw little choice, however, to pursuing a political strategy that includes sanctions and renewed his concerns that a military strike would only delay Iranian nuclear capabilities by two or three years.

He added that sanctions “have really bitten much harder than (Iranian leadership) anticipated,” and suggested Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was increasingly at odds with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“We even have some evidence that Khamenei, now, (is) beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him about the impact of the sanctions on the economy. And whether he’s getting the straight scoop in terms of how much trouble the economy really is in,” Gates told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington.

[ ... ]

Although he acknowledged on Tuesday that Iranian leaders “are still intent on acquiring nuclear weapons,” he said military action was not a long-term answer.

“A military solution, as far as I’m concerned … it will bring together a divided nation. It will make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons. And they will just go deeper and more covert,” Gates said.

“The only long-term solution in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide it’s not in their interest. Everything else is a short-term solution.”

Oh goodness.  Gates has bought into the notion that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons because they seek a deterrent to aggression against Iran.  Convincing Iran to relinquish its pursuit of nuclear weapons is synonymous with convincing them that no one intends Iran harm.  Military action only pushes they into the very decision point we wish to avoid.  Or so the narrative goes.

It’s the same mistake made by most of the secular, post-modernist Western elite who sees things mainly through Western, secular eyes.  It’s all about self preservation viz. Darwin, and upon being assured that they are safe, and since there is no such thing as real evil in the world and no absolute against which to measure such a thing as right or wrong, there is only the pragmatic.  The Iranian rulers will be pragmatic and see the error of their pursuit and act in the defense of themselves and their own people.  Altruistically, of course.  It’s all about diplomacy.  It just means saying the right things.

Except the world and mankind don’t work that way, and objective evil does in fact exist.  Seeing things through eschatological eyes is uncomfortable to the Western secularists, but absolutely necessary in order to understand the radical Mullahs, who believe that:

“We do not worship Iran. We worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”

To be sure, military action is undesirable.  There is always another way, involving covert operations, intelligence warfare, fomenting an internal Iranian insurgency, and catalyzing regime change.  But with eyes through which the Western secularists see the problem, this will never occur.  This virtually ensures war with Iran, sooner or later.  Our own desire to avoid confrontation is at least a contributing cause to such an exigency.

This is the second awful decision Gates has made within a week.  Does this set the expectations for the remainder of his  tenure?  Will it be two per week?

  • http://bit.ly/FirstContact3 Warbucks

    “This virtually ensures war with Iran, sooner or later. Our own desire to avoid confrontation is at least a contributing cause to such an exigency.”

    If the Catholic Church’s astronomer in 2008 can offer up the unchallenged statement alien life ‘would be part of God’s creation’ a statement which 500 years ago would have him de-frocked and burned at the stake, then it is possible that Islam as currently enforced by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may also find a middle ground with the West.

    Is certain as war with Iran is perceived as virtually ensured by one mind set, another mind set sees and speaks to a different reality. If war is a virtually ensured problem than can be pushed down the road to deal with later, sign me up! Where do I push?

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Naive. War involves two participants, but only requires one instigator. Besides, don’t draw moral equivalency between Christianity and Islam, especially with the radical Mullahs in Iran.

  • http://umc-unofficiallaymanopenforum.ning.com/ Warbucks

    You may be correct. I come from a different school of thinking which is the first to be beat down but hard to kill, and eventually comes back strong when all hope seems lost.

    The Claremont School of Theology (California), which I am NOT associated with, is trying to find ways of grouping students to find bridges across perceived differences, differences which normally perpetuate war, violence and tyranny and suppression. They are cross-training Christian, Jews, and Muslims while the students each pursue their own religion’s studies. Some of the classes are shared. I only expect them to succeed in the class room not the real world once they graduate.

    This is something I find to be true which may help in the real world. Seminary students representing diverse religions seem far more willing to get along and absorb criticisms, even absorb contributory responsibility for their religions while in a classroom environment than outside the classroom, the operational theory is that the way we practice our religions is the way we live our lives, the way we strive to negotiate from strength, the way we always seek the upper hand. If our religions can not change, neither will we… so goes the implied line of reasoning.

    It would be helpful in the Claremont School of Theology’s bold effort to share multi-religious studies among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, in the interests of world peace, if students immersed in these programs came out the other end of the syllabus with an answer to the problem: How can religions and people work together off-campus and carry this knowledge into their churches, synagogues, and mosques?

    Here are some points that seem true to me:

    (a) Our seminaries might teach tomorrow’s clergy so that tomorrow’s clergy can help those in their congregations that seek, to find inner spiritual awakening, actually find it even if it is divorced from church dogma.

    (b) Our seminaries need to turn out batches of students that become tomorrow’s clergy that are more interested in teaching followers to find enlightenment than building a corporate church.

    (c) Our seminaries need to teach our seminary students who then become the clergy of tomorrow, that we should rethink the policies of rating a church according to its corporate growth of numbers, that we must find new and relevant measures to rate preachers and religions.

    (d) Our seminaries need to find at least one aspect among all religions that is true for all religions and from that one aspect build. That one aspect seems to be the spiritual awakening of love in one’s heart. If that is true for all religions, what must each religion shed from their respective dogmas to enable love to be shared among all, equally? If that is not true, why is it not true?

    Gates’ “horrible decisions” is done within our safety zone (let’s call it a red-zone of policy concerns — in football analogy) to survive and comeback with a vengeance stronger than ever and we will be the last to die. One of the moral steps absolutely essential before greater force is brought to bear upon the problem of Iran, is to provide and build a strong perception that every diplomatic avenue has been attempted first. Let Gates run his course. The trial is not over and the there may just be that chance that a middle ground is found in the real world as creatively as it seems to be found in the safety of the classroom-laboratories where our seminary students seek alternatives. Gates move can be seen as either “terrible decisions” or they can be seen as “consensus building” through morally required international steps. I believe it is the latter not the former.

  • anan

    Captain, Islam is a great faith similar to Christianity that has done a lot of good in the world. There are 1.5 billion muslims; please don’t paint all muslims with a common brush.

    In many ways Islam is an offshoot of Christianity. Muslims regard Jesus to be the one and only messiah who returns at the end of days. Mohammed regard Jesus as the greatest prophet ever born. Mohammed said that Mary, mother of Jesus, was the greatest woman ever born.

    Most muslims are at war with their Takfiri extremist minority. The Takfiri extremists also happen to be at war with the world’s more than 5 billion nonmuslims.

  • TS Alfabet

    Oh boy… so many delusions, so little time.

    Iran should be the easiest case study in the world for the moral use of force. It could be argued in fact, that the use of force against Iran is a clearer and stronger moral imperative than existed against Nazi Germany.

    Let’s deal with Warbucks’ notions of seminary-inspired peace first. The only conceivable world in which students of a seminary graduate and make an actual difference in global politics is one in which Western-style, democratic institutions thrive and where freedom of speech and religion are respected. So, to narrow things down just a bit, that means that these seminarians have no real hope of making any difference in Iran or anywhere else in the Muslim world except, possibly, Iraq (thanks to the U.S.) and Morocco. At the risk of being accused by Anan of painting with too broad a brush, there are no, other Muslim majority nations on earth where, for example, a Claremont School seminarian would have a chance of freely practicing Christianity without threat of death or where any Muslim could think of converting to Christianity without being branded an apostate and killed with the full blessing of the Mosque and State.

    So, let’s re-focus ourselves on the topic brought up by the Captain, shall we?

    We need not debate the finer points of Islam versus christianity when it comes to Iran. The POINT is that, in Iran, we have a State run by extremist nut jobs with Hitlerian notions of ethnic cleansing and conquest for the greater glory of their state religion. In Iran we have a State with over 30 years of sponsoring attacks against the West and the U.S. in particular. Like Hitler, they have not been shy about telling the West exactly what they intend to do and why. Like the 1930′s, Europe and the U.S. have pretty much ignored all of this and pretended like the problem will go away by itself. Unlike Nazi Germany, however, Iran is desperately seeking weapons with the destructive capacity to annihilate millions of people at a time and threaten the very existence of entire nations. In moral terms, the West is confronted with the prospect of an evil regime that has, in fact, done much harm to its neighbors and clearly proposes to do great harm to other nations as soon as it obtains the proper weaponry. Is it moral for the U.S. to dither and delay and allow such a State to obtain those weapons or is it not a moral imperative to use force, if necessary, to prevent the far greater evil from occurring?

    As the Captain points out, Gates seems to be under the same delusion that Obama and others labor under: that the Regime in Iran is a benign entity that can be coaxed or cajoled or sanctioned into altering its behavior. It is the same fatal error that the West made with Hitler when Chamberlain tossed Czechoslovakia to the Germans as a peace offering. Had the West stood up to Hitler in those early years, when Nazi Germany was still weak, the bloodbath of WWII and the Holocaust could have been readily prevented. But, to use Warbucks’ phrasing, “If war is a virtually ensured problem than can be pushed down the road to deal with later, sign me up! Where do I push?” This mentality is, ironically, the one that will lead us to the most horrifying bloodshed and misery whereas a moral courage to confront the aggressor and forcibly restrain will, in the end, preserve lives and deliver us from greater evil.

    Gates and his fellow travelers make the same, false– patently false– assumption that the only choice is between talk talk talk talk and full-scale invasion. As the Captain notes, there are many, many shades of action short of invasion and wholesale warfare. Was it too much, for example, for President Obumble to stand firmly with the Iranians protesting against the electoral fraud and tyranny in 2009? Every day those poor people took to the streets and were beaten, shot and jailed– to be horribly tortured. The West did nothing. Obumble was silent.

    Obumble is not the only one to blame. Bush did no better, in the end. Clinton, Reagan. No American president has stood up to the fascists in Tehran. It will likely be said of our generation that we refused to confront the Aggressor because we did not want war. And so we had war and in far greater and more terrible measure.

  • http://carnagepro.com PenGun

    Crazy people everywhere. As time passes more and more states/organizations will acquire nuclear capability. You cannot put genies back in their bottles. Perhaps a stable and secure world is the only way we will survive this fundamental progression.

    It might be prudent to work in that direction rather than base everything on national power/advantage.

  • anan

    “there are no, other Muslim majority nations on earth where, for example, a Claremont School seminarian would have a chance of freely practicing Christianity without threat of death”
    Many such places including Malaysia, Indonesia, muslim majority parts of India, muslim majority parts of China, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, muslim majority parts of Russia, Bosnia, Albania, Turkey, Dubai, Lebanon, even Syria to some extent . . . its a long list.

    But wouldn’t try that in the Arab world or Pakistan.

    “or where any Muslim could think of converting to Christianity without being branded an apostate and killed with the full blessing of the Mosque and State.” This is a real problem. Not sure how to solve this.

  • http://bit.ly/FirstContact3 Warbucks

    “It will likely be said of our generation that we refused to confront the Aggressor because we did not want war. And so we had war and in far greater and more terrible measure.” … perhaps is another way of saying we absorbed the first blow, retaliated, and were the last to die.

    “Preemptive first strike” as we seem to be evaluating, I would argue, can not be sustained morally in an open, democratic republic. Nor is it representative of our national character.

  • http://bit.ly/FirstContact3 Warbucks

    …. and yet it would be incorrect to blend my comments into that larger mix of a non-responsive pacifism. A congressional victory by the fine young officer, Lt. Col West (http://tinyurl.com/2bn56zs) is victory for the type of personal freedom, response, and social perspective that I support. Whether Congressman West is able to resist the corruptions of office and remain the thoughtful independent-minded student of a strong peace that his persona carries into the congressional ranks in his victory of 2010, will prove to be his greatest test.

    I pray that in 2012, as the self-declared citizen politician, as that term was originally intended, that Congressman West continues to project his personal fortress of individual integrity and does not appear to become part of the corrupt and comfortable establishment. He he can resist. He will make one of the greatest contributions to peace since the founding of our nation. If he can not, and he is elected president, I pity any enemy to the USA we encounter.

  • http://bit.ly/FirstContact3 Warbucks

    …. and yet it would be incorrect to blend my comments into that larger mix of a non-responsive pacifism. A congressional victory by the fine young officer, Lt. Col West (http://tinyurl.com/2bn56zs) is victory for the type of personal freedom, response, and social perspective that I support. Whether Congressman West is able to resist the corruptions of office and remain the thoughtful independent-minded student of a strong peace that his persona carries into the congressional ranks in his victory of 2010, will prove to be his greatest test.

    I pray that in 2012, as the self-declared citizen politician, as that term was originally intended, that Congressman West continues to project his personal fortress of individual integrity and does not appear to become part of the corrupt and comfortable establishment. He he can resist. He will make one of the greatest contributions to peace since the founding of our nation. If he can not, and he is elected president, I pity any enemy to the USA we encounter.


You are currently reading "Gates on a Nuclear Iran", entry #5758 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Department of Defense,Iran,Secretary Gates and was published November 17th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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