Gates, the Adult in the Room, Rebuffs Israeli, Republican Warmongering on Iran

The Military-Industrial-Israel Complex is baaack.

The victory of the War Party– … ooops, I mean the Republican Party– at the polls on November 2 was sure to embolden Israeli hawks, since the latter are essentially rightwing Republicans whenever they visit the United States. And, so many of the new members of the House of Representatives are Christian Zionists who appear to believe that Jehovah hasn’t smited the poor Palestinians (I mean Amalekites) sufficiently to ensure the return of baby Jay-sus. More smiting, they say, is in order.

The harbingers of emboldening were clearly visible in Halifax, Canada, when Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak spoke there on Saturday. He decried the ineffectiveness of economic sanctions on Iran in deterring its nuclear enrichment program, making a glib assumption that Iran is a North Korea determined to possess a nuclear bomb. Comically, Barak warned that if Iran did get a nuclear weapon, then everyone in the Middle East would want one, and non-proliferation would be dead.

But of course it is Israel’s own nuclear arsenal that kicked off the arms race in the Middle East, and it is comical for Barak to worry about a Non-Proliferation Treaty Israel never signed and the ideals of which Tel Aviv has wantonly trampled upon. Nor is it true that Israel has a no-first-use policy; it has never announced any such thing. Indeed, its leaders issued only slightly veiled threats to nuke Baghdad at the outset of the Bush invasion of Iraq, were Saddam Hussein to try to send gas-tipped SCUDs at Tel Aviv.

Moreover, while it may be “clear” to Barak that Iran is trying to construct a nuclear warhead, there is no evidence to back up this allegation. The International Atomic Energy Agency has certified only this spring that no nuclear material has been diverted from civilian purposes at the Natanz enrichment facility. Two National Intelligence Estimates in a row, 2007 and 2010, have assessed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. The suspicious are reduced to positing hidden sites and sites in tunnels, etc. But making nuclear bombs uses a lot of water and electricity and would produce activities visible to satellites and susceptible of electronic surveillance. In short, “everybody knows” or Barak’s certitude will not cut it as a basis for going to war, especially after Mossad (Israeli intelligence) misled the US about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And, of course, the generals, who know about war and military capabilities, completely disagree with Barak.

Barak sounded restrained compared to Republican Lindsey Graham, who said “containment is off the table.” That is, it is unacceptable to him to deal with Iran as the US dealt with the Soviet Union. (Why? Because Khamenei is worse than Stalin. How?) Not to mention that unlike the Soviet Union, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon. But, oh, I see. That is why you don’t need to contain it. You can just take it out. It is brilliant. Iran’s non-existent, imaginary nuke is at the same time what makes war necessary and what makes it possible. An actual Iranian nuke would put war talk off the table.

Graham said that in the war of the US on Iran, the US military should “not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.”

Graham is a vet and usually is well informed on military affairs, but this remark demonstrates an alarming ignorance about Iran alongside an alarming hole in the center of his soul that makes him want to launch aggressive wars and kill tens of thousands of strangers to prove his manhood.

Iran has no air force to speak of, nor much of a navy. The Iranian military budget is around the same as that of Singapore or Norway, and is the smallest per capita in the Persian Gulf save for the United Arab Emirates. The Revolutionary Guards are a poorly equipped national guard. Revolutionary Iran’s strength has all along been asymmetrical, and the US military is simply not capable of ‘neutering’ Iran’s capabilities in this regard. Graham’s musings are so inaccurate in their view of Iran’s military as to be comical, which is why the Iranian foreign minister speculated that ol’ Lindsey was just joshin’ us.

The third volley came on Sunday from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who told Vice President Joe Biden that economic sanctions are insufficient, and that some military threat must be trained on Iran to make it give up its nuclear enrichment program.

The problem is that if you draw a gun on someone, and they ignore you or rush you, you may have to use it to retain credibility. Military threats can easily escalate out of control, which is what Netanyahu is counting on.

While the Israeli hawks will no doubt hear a Greek chorus of accolades for their warmongering from the House of Representatives, the Obama administration has their number.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (from the small sane wing of the Republican Party) publicly rebuked Netanyahu. Gates said as a security conference in Melbourne, Australia, wrapped up,

‘ “We know that they are concerned about the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions are biting more deeply than they anticipated and we are working very hard at this … So I would disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions it needs to to end its nuclear weapons programme… We are prepared to do what is necessary but at this point we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we taking is in fact having an impact in Iran.” ‘

I reiterate that at this juncture, an American war with Iran might just about finish off our Republic.

29 Responses

  1. ‘…to prove his manhood’ — hilarious

    the irony about sanctions is how well they’re working — against both Iran & the USA

    were the USA to attack Iran, or back the Apartheidists if they attack, it would drive the last nail into the coffin known as the American economy

  2. I am afraid that Gates, your sane Republican, is anything but.

    “… So I would disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran
    to take the actions it needs to end its nuclear weapons programme…”

    For those who missed it: “nuclear weapons programme…”

    Repeat a lie for long enough and it becomes the truth.

    Gate is saying yes, but not yet, to Netanyahu.

  3. Is this a deflection from the fact that the Republicans have no positive agent for 2011?
    Graham doesn’t seem to know that the president conducts foreign policy.
    I am so tired of these crazy, cowardly people. They don’t go to war, they sit in safety and spout bellicose memes.
    My one concern about US/Iran is at the last UN get together, Hillary Clinton made a statement about Iran which sounded like the familiar military option. Reporters asked a DOS spokesman if Clinton was talking about changing the government of Iran by force.
    The spokesman said oh, no, that’s not what she meant.
    I see a difference form Obama’s statements on Iran and Clinton’s.
    Who is going to bring up the domino theory?
    Thank you for your post.

  4. “The Revolutionary Guards are a poorly equipped national guard. Revolutionary Iran’s strength has all along been asymmetrical, and the US military is simply not capable of ‘neutering’ Iran’s capabilities in this regard.”

    Robert Baer calls Iran an “asymmetrical super power”, but how can that be possibly if your statement above is correct?
    Even asymmetrical power depends on having capable weapons and tactics, for example revoluntionary zeal, guerilla tactics, anti-ship cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, fiber optics, and manpads, as opposed to missile frigates, f-16s, and sattelites. So how can the IRGC be both poorly equipped, but be capable of resisting US military pressure? Surely if Hezbullah was equipped enough to repel the IDF their IRGC mentors could never then be described as “poorly equipped”.

    Also I think the destruction of the American republic is exactly what the Lindsey Grahams of this world desire. That is their ultimate dream, to fundamentally restructure American society.

  5. The ending comment about the possible end of our republic may be too late. I seriously wonder if our Republic is not already dead, replaced by a corporate-military oligarchy.

  6. One of the weaknesses of Informed Comment is the author’s tribalism; he’s a Democrat.

    We have two War Parties. That’s the problem I have voting. One party has a small and ineffectual anti-war wing. The other party has a ‘realist’ wing, mostly out of office, and a handful of neo-isolationists. Members of both parties vote overwhelmingly for the bloated Pentagon budget, voted for an open-ended authorization for Bush 43 to use force as he saw fit, and boast about the military-industrial jobs they bring to their districts.

    Recently a 19 year old American citizen, armed only with a video camera, was murdered in international waters by commandos of a foreign nation. Shot five times at close range. I queried my congressional delegation, all Democrats, as to when there might be congressional hearings on this murder. I was met with a deafening silence.

    Under Obama, the drone war escalates, the secret prisons remain, ‘special forces’ operate in even more countries, the lies about ‘collateral damage’ (read ‘murder of unarmed civilians’) continue.

    I won’t soon forget that the foundations of the Cold War militarization of American society were laid during the Truman administration. He was the first president to lead us into a major war (sorry, ‘police action’) without a congressional declaration of war, and the one who decided we would support the French in their misguided attempt to recreate French Indo-China.

    Admittedly, the rhetoric from the Republicans is nastier and more bellicose, but effectively, in terms of votes, treasure wasted and blood spilled, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two war parties. A plague on both their houses.

  7. If Graham is indeed, as I suspect, angling to get on the 2012 Presidential ticket with his warmongering, I wonder if even his apparent willingness to slaughter millions of innocent Muslims/Iranians would be enough to overcome the deep seated and unbridled hatred of homosexuals which to a large degree drives the Republican primary voters he would need to win over.

    Personally, I doubt it.

  8. I reiterate that at this juncture, an American war with Iran might just about finish off our Republic.

    I’m pretty sure that’s what they have in mind. It’s easier to steal what left if kept in a pattern of sliding down the path into the darkness.

  9. If Iran poses such a dire threat to Israel, and it may with zealots like Ahmadinejad and Khameni in charge, or it may not since the Iranian regime’s assault on its own people demonstrates cold self-preservation, why wouldn’t the Israeli government cut a deal with Abbas and bolster its global and regional credibility? I never understood this impotence. Israel seems as divided as the U.S. on just about everything.

    Professor, would you have any comment on this? (Informed Comment displays great insight into what goes on in the Muslim world, which is why I am a daily reader, but on the subject of Israel, the Comment becomes a jeremiad against the Israel right wing and its American allies, which may be fine, but feels incomplete.)

  10. My first impulse on the recurring topic of War with Iran is to yawn: the whole notion assumes a US government that is simply 180 degrees away from what where it was in 2002/3, with a President and staff who have not abdicated to ideology.

    However, what we have to acknowledge is the long game these people play. Even a two year time horizon is practically tomorrow, and it is not hoping for too much in their eyes and planning scheme. I happen to be encouraged that the Tea Party may split the effectiveness of the far right and on the net neuter the neocons. Still, if Obama is NOT re-elected, you’d probably end up with Huckaby or Romney as it now stands. Looking out even 2 years into the future it is hard to anticipate with any confidence how things might play out, and especially in a political environment this dynamic, even the most probably event today is itself going to be highly unlikely.

    We’ve no cause to be worried about this sort of loose talk now, but things really could change, and that’s how the Israelis/neocons are playing things.

  11. Juan, you are so correct. Why the US constantly sides with Israel in its crazy attitude towards Iran, I’ll never figure out. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and refuses to acknowledge it, nor will they sign the Non proliferation treaty, whereas, Iran has. I really believe that Iran is trying to make nuclear power plants, since they have already passed peak oil. We have too many stupid people in the US, and many of them have recently been elected or re-elected to Congress. When I found out that the average IQ in the US is only 100, I was appalled. It should be at least 120 to 130 for us to survive as a country.

  12. From the “sane” wing of the Republican Party????????????
    “So I would disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions it needs to end its nuclear weapons programme…”

    Here is the Secretary of Defense, aka Mr Gravitas, stating that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

    So the matter that “Two National Intelligence Estimates in a row, 2007 and 2009, have assessed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program” has been resolved. Mr Gates, with total access to all intelligence and who works for Mr Obama, has cleared the air – discard all you have heard or read about Iran not having a program. This statement certainly gives Lindsey Graham and the other war (more accurately nation demolition) lovers all they need rev up the violence machine.

    Mr Gates is just saying give sanctions a chance. That’s plan A. But since Iran has a nuclear weapons program, if A doesn’t work, there is always plan B.

  13. Write what you will, but President Obama the President waging war in Afganistan and Pakistan and droning all the heck over now and he is the person responsible. Obama can stop the wars, but he shows only an inclination for more more more wars.

  14. Many politicians & reporters like David Broder still think that other countries are Banana Republics. Time has changed. There are many immerging & reemerging economies & regional powers. One has to readjust to the realities of the present time.

    Many countries are producing their own arms & ammunitions besides cars, tractors & many other things. Business of arms sales will also decrease.

    For powerful countries, a time to live and let live is approaching fast. Israel cannot live on war footing all the time. It has to compromise to live peacefully. Nether USA can police the world all the time.

  15. There are reports of Chinese-Iranian-Turkish cooperation on various projects, oil/gas-related and defense-related. To what extent do the USA’s sanctions against Iran sit well with China? Surely a time will come when the USA’s vainglorious I-rule-the-world-as-of-right (because I am a light unto the nations, I suppose) will grow a bit thin, and then where will we be? And what will the tea-partyers say then?

  16. Perhaps Graham should join his Oklahoma colleagues, Inhofe and Coburn, to delve into reality, just once, to propose a prohibition of Sharia Law in Iran.

  17. Gates may be one of the few adults in the room, but he’s stepping down after January, to be replaced with . . .? Let’s hope it’s someone who can stand up to Israel’s useful idiots in DC.

  18. I wouldn’t give too much credit to Robert Gates. He’s a wily bureaucrat who will fall in line if a decision is made to attack Iran in some way. The biggest mistake Obama made was to keep him as secretary of defense. I think he’s made some statements on Iran you may want to research that aren’t very reassuring. He too sees Iran as a threat and I doubt he would stand up to the war-mongerers if Obama felt the need to start a little something with Iran to divert attention from the economy before the next election.

  19. I think you are wrong about a war with Iran finishing off the republic. The republic was murdered on December 13th 2000.

    • Amen brother.

      Of course only a few Americans will remember that is the day 5 robe wearing traitors selected/declared George W Bush king of America.

      Truly a day that will live in infamy…

  20. No Causus Belli

    It’s a little eerie how analysts far and wide have waxed poetic over whether or not a strike will occur, but no one has yet fingered a justification for a strike.

    I should remind everyone that the UNSC sanctions are extra-legal and based on ZERO EVIDENCE. Indeed, pursuant to Israel’s hysteria and speculation, America has pushed successfully for sanctions that are aimed [realpolitik] to restrain and diminish a surging Iran without providing actual evidence as their speculation. Iran, on the other hand, has done things like issue Fatwas (straight from the SUPREME LEADER — btw, stop looking and listening to his spokesperson, Ahmadinejad) against Nukes and declare that they don’t want nukes every time they are asked about it. The IAEA, the only agency authorized by the UN to monitor nuclear programs, has concluded again in its latest report that there is no evidence that Iran is deviating from its civilian enrichment. Indeed, Iran is the most monitored program ever and has yet to violate the NPT.

    On the other hand, Israel, the main concerned party, isn’t even a signatory to the NPT (they skirted it) and has an illegal, rogue nuclear program at Dimona (and elsewhere, maybe) with 300+ nukes. The US, a party that is highly violative of several nuclear treaties including the NPT, is the UNSC member, along with Britain and France, that have pushed for the sanctions the most. France was the country that supplied the Israelis much of the rogue nuclear technology, despite being signatories to the NPT themselves.

    Unless Iran kicks out the inspectors, it will not be able to develop nuclear weapons. Let’s say that they do and blast full steam ahead to develop a weapon. They still need a delivery system. After making one (another 6 months to a year beyond the first year to developing the weapon), it will have to be good enough to get through Israeli defenses. When North Korea threatened to nuke Hawaii, our US General (forget which one) said “Go ahead, we’ll shoot it out of the sky.” The delivery and payload technology from North Korea and Iran are antiquated…like 30-40 years old. We’re way ahead.

    Not to mention that the reality of a strike (1) not really stopping the nuclear program, (2) forcing an event like the Straits of Hormuz being blocked (we can’t even clean up oil in the Gulf of Mexico), and (3) causing global chaos still is present.

    Netanyahu thinks that huffing and puffing his chest at the world’s 17th largest economy, the size of France, UK, Spain, and Germany combined, with one of the world’s oldest, proudest cultures is going to cause Iran to abandon a legal right while they possess 300 illegal nukes. Chutzpah or insanity?

  21. have you read the news about the five protesters who interrupted Netanyahu’s speech today in New Orleans?

    Five young Jews disrupt Netanyahu speech with call for new Jewish identity
    link to mondoweiss.net

    AP article up at Huffington Post, Salon (i beleive), Mondoweiss, Code Pink. Nothing at all up at Firedoglake (Jane Hamsher and Marcy Wheeler seldom if ever touch these stories, while a few of the smaller hitters over there do at times) Nothing at Daily Kos Yet. Will more than likely not make it up over at Crooks and Liars. Total black out on Israeli Palestinian issues over there. Of course the bravest bloggers of all in the so called progressive blogosphere is Glenn Greenwald who will address the I/P issue even when he is on National MSM news outlets. But not Jane Hamsher she is silent on this issue. Even when she is in the National spotlight (Washington Journal Cspan) addressing why progressives are upset with the Obama administration. In 45 minutes Hamsher did not have the balls to even “whisper” about this issue. But Glenn he goes for it. The truth that is.

    At Google there are 14 pages of links to newspapers picking the Netanyahu being interrupted story up. All over the nation and world.

    Will put money on that Jon Stewart will not touch this story. Never criticizes Netanyahu or other Israeli leaders. Never. Now if this were about the Iranian President Ahmadenijad Stewart would be all over it. Anyone want to bet Stewart will not touch this news on his show

  22. Let’s hope that cool minds prevail on Iran. Let’s hope that verifiable evidence is used in any decisions made. And let’s never forget that Iran has the right to enrich uranium and that there is no hard evidence that backs up that they are enriching beyond what they are legally able. And let’s also not forget that Iran signed the NPT, Israel has not. And that many nations in that part of the world feel a threat by Israel’s unwillingness to play by the rules that they want their neighbors to abide by.

    Good post about what is going on in Canada
    Canadian lawmakers resurrect McCarthy in hearings that say criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism
    link to mondoweiss.net

  23. Gates may be saner than most Republicans, but he is not 100 per cent sane if he really believes that Iran has a current nuclear weapons program. Does he, or is this just politics?

  24. It is disturbing that a man who advocates and speaks loving of sanctions that are ‘biting more deeply’, innocent Iranians, (just like hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the 90′s), is described in terms like “adult” and “sane”.

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