Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gates Memo Sounds Alarm On Iran

Interesting story in the New York Times this morning on a "secret" memo they have obtained in which Defense Secretary Robert ("Bill") Gates (heh, heh) decries the lack of a coherent administration policy to deal with Iran's attempts to become a nuclear weapons state. The subtle sub-text of the memo is that there doesn't appear to be any real thinking within the administration about what happens if The One's vaunted oratory and "anti-Bush" policy of "engagement" don't actually work.

There are quite a few angles to this story, so let's take it up in some detail, shall we?

The first question is, who is the leaker--or more appropriately, where in government is the leak coming from? Who are the candidates? 1) The Office of the Secretary of Defense 2) the Joint Staff 3) The White House 4) The State Department. As to which it is, one has to move on to the next question--why would it be leaked. I give likelihoods that the organization cited is the source in percentages.

OSD (15%)would leak it under a few different circumstances--the most likely of which would be that Gates had grown frustrated with a lack of support within the administration for true strategic thinking. What could cause this frustration? The ascendancy of the "engagement"ists at State and on the National Security Council, political types who cannot fathom the possibility that the President's rhetoric on engagement will not produce results. What could this be a signal of? Fraying of relations among the big three--Gates, Hilary Clinton, and Jim Jones (NSC).

The Joint Staff (20%) would leak it under much of the same circumstances, including the possibility that OSD isn't pushing hard enough. The uniforms have plans on the shelf for military options--but what they fear is having to resort to such options with a thinly stretched force simply because there was insufficient care paid to creating a series of political approaches. I wouldn't put it past the Joint Staff to end-run OSD on this.

The White House (NSC) (5%) could have leaked this too. I have a tough time coming up with a good reason for them to do so except strategic communications--that is, talking to other regional governments, friends and allies through the media. The there is foment within the upper levels of the national security apparatus on this important question can be "amplified" in a way that convinces regional friends and allies that we are taking this threat seriously.

When it comes right down to it though, I think the State Department (60%) is our most likely culprit for the leak. Political types there--with personal stakes in the success of President Obama's policies--including engagement--want to see the Secretary of Defense embarrassed and isolated. Portray him and his ilk as a bunch of warmongers not given to letting the fine art of diplomacy run its course, while we Mandarins of foreign policy here at Foggy Bottom run the show and are TRULY loyal to the President.

I just can't see how this memo signals a good thing for the Administration.

Cross-posted at Information Dissemination


"The Hammer" said...

I think it's obvious the rift with the Israelis is due to Iran. Unless I miss my guess Netanyahu wants to hit them NOW, and Obama is balking. Time will tell who is right but according my theory that Obama is a pussy and is ALWAYS wrong, I'd say the Middle East is in for a rough time. Nukes are serious business, game changers in fact, not some card in the geo-political poker game.

Security Gate said...

Nice stuff! It is really important to have some security devices today!

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