Powered by WebAds

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Understanding the Gates memo

There are a lot of 'analysts' out there trying to make sense out of something they have never seen - the memo written by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to President Obama in January in which Gates discusses the lack of a Plan B in the event that Iran says "no" to stopping its nuclear program.

Let's look at some of the analysis. Here's former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on Fox and Friends.

Let's go to the videotape.

By the way, Bolton is not the only one who thinks Gates is going to resign (and I didn't understand until I saw this video that the possibility of Iran hitting the US was part of the same memo) - Jed Babbin at Big Government thinks the same thing.

In what may be a story planted by the administration, David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post that the White House was unhappy with the New York Times' treatment of the memo.
The White House didn't like the New York Times' characterization of a memo Gates wrote in January as a "wake-up call," given all the work the administration has already done on Iran. But the Times' story captured the urgency with which Gates and other officials see the problem -- and their fear that sanctions, however well constructed, may not do the trick.

Gates's memo called specifically for "prudent planning and preparation" for the showdown with Iran, according to one senior official quoting from the text. The defense secretary requested that the "principals committee," the top officers of the National Security Council, discuss the range of issues and options that might arise.

The next step in this pressure campaign is the sanctions regime being crafted by Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. This will have several interlocking components: The showpiece will be a new U.N. Security Council resolution to add sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliated companies, along with other Iranian firms involved in manufacturing, transporting and financing weapons shipments and other illicit activities. But that's just the beginning.

The administration knows the resolution will be watered down by Russia and China, but it wants the U.N. sanctions anyway -- as a platform for additional measures by the United States and its allies. It's these private and unilateral sanctions that will have real bite: As the Iranians try to evade them, their deception will trigger additional punitive measures.
I'm not sure why they need the 'platform' of UN approval to move ahead with additional measures, but here's where it's going:
Yet for all this aggressive pressure, Iran continues to conduct both banking and shipping -- which illustrates the difficulty of using sanctions to force a change in policy. The track record is spotty, from Cuba to Iraq.

For policymakers, the discussion is beginning to shift to the sensitive area suggested by Gates's memo -- the space between sanctions and outright military action. What options would the United States and its allies have, short of war, to raise the cost to Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program? Are there means of subverting, sabotaging or containing such a program without actually bombing Iranian facilities?

We won't be hearing a lot of public discussion about this gray area. But that's where senior officials will focus more of their energy in coming months, as they prepare for the possibility that Levey's clever trap won't work.
Some of those options may be found here (Hat Tip: Laura Rozen).


At 3:52 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

It assumes the US wants to act to stop Iran. There is no evidence it has the will or the intent to do so. That is what the Gates Memo seems to convey. And I would be very surprised if something tough where to happen in the next 15 months. It simply isn't in this Administration's DNA to confront America's enemies.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Has Ari Shavit had a change of mind - or did someone else write the Independence Day Eve article attributed to him? Its possible that article was mistakenly attributed by a sloppy Haaretz editor to Shavit. The open letter was very likely written by Gideon Levy. If so - then we all owe Shavit a big apology. Shavit, thinks believe it or not - that Obama is demanding the impossible from Israel. How does that square with the Shavit who said its Netanyahu's responsibility to repair relations with the US? This is a mystery only the Jews could come up with. Can Inspector Tamim help us track down the REAL Shavit?

Look here: Obama Must Stop Demanding The Impossible From Israel

Oh Shavit, WHO are you?



Post a Comment

<< Home