A classified memo written in January and obtained by the New
shows that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is concerned
that the U.S. does not have an effective strategy in place to cope with
Iran's nuclear progress. One scenario he reportedly focused on is the concern that Iran could develop all the necessary parts of
a nuclear weapon while remaining in compliance with non-proliferation
treaties. What do commentators make of the memo and its revelations?
Pentagon's Concern About Diplomatic Failure In the New York Times
report, David Sanger and Thom
Shanker conclude that "Mr. Gates’s memo appears to reflect concerns
in the Pentagon and the military that the White House did not have a
well prepared series of alternatives in place in case all the diplomatic
steps finally failed. Separately, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a 'chairman’s guidance' to his staff in
December conveying a sense of urgency about contingency planning."
Other Officials Are Worried, Too Scott Hinderaker of conservative
site Powerline says the article adds to "the annals of the
administration's empty talk about" Iran. He then speculates that the
motive of the person who leaked the memo: "Why would anonymous officials
leak word of a highly classified memorandum suggesting that the
administration has no policy beyond what has proved to be empty talk?
These apparently well-informed officials must think that we have
something to worry about."
- Memo Must Be Read in Context Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic
explains that the real purpose of the memo is not to point out that the
U.S. lacks plans to cope with Iran because the "Pentagon HAS such
plans," and "IS working with other countries." Instead, he says the memo
"ought to be read in
the context of complaining or urging the administration to create the
political will to legitimately exercise those options."
- No Surprise to McCain, at Least
Washington opponents of Obama are using the occasion to criticize the
administration's Iran policy generally. John McCain told Chris Wallace
on Fox News Sunday that the memo told him nothing he didn't already
know: "I didn’t need a secret memo to know we didn’t have a coherent
policy. That’s pretty obvious" (via Politico.)
- Gap in the Non-
Proliferation Treaty May Be Patched Spencer Ackerman at liberal site
FireDogLake eschews speculation about the leaker's motives. He focuses
instead on the idea that current treaties allow Iran to go to the brink
of assembling a nuclear weapon without incurring sanctions. This is a
"real problem" that may be addressed at a Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty conference in May.
- 7 Years Later, Still No Plans?
Allahpundit at conservative site Hot
Air is delighted that the memo "scrambled" plans for Sunday pundits to
praise Obama's Nuclear Security Summit. He says the lack of alternative
plans to diplomacy should be no surprise given that "the Obama charm
offensive" has been a "core plank" of foreign policy. Finally, the
blogger is shocked that military strategists haven't developed plans for
Iran given that the country's nuclear program was revealed seven years
ago. "Yet here we are in 2010 racing to come up with options in case
Iran … develops nuclear weapons."
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