America’s troop “surge” in Iraq has less to do with Iraqi security than it does with intimidating Iran according to the new US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates. There has been plenty of strong rhetoric from the Bush administration against Iran recently as well as actual acts against the Iranian regime in the form of the arrest of diplomats and a raid on a consular office. But this statement from Robert Gates sums up America’s intentions in the Persian Gulf:
“We are simply reaffirming that statement of the importance of the Gulf region to the United States and our determination to be an ongoing strong presence in that area for a long time into the future.” [My emphasis]
Before he got the job, Robert Gates was calling for dialogue with Iran, a view in line with the Iraq Study Group (USG) report (which he was involved with). Since becoming Defence Secretary he seems to have changed his tune. It seems that the only engagement with Iran is likely to be military.
No one should be surprised by Robert Gates’ apparent about-face. To find out more about this man’s character, I recommend reading this post by Big Stick and a Small Carrot which includes some interesting items from Robert Gates’ past including this:
I personally attended meetings in which CIA Director Casey or CIA Deputy Director Gates noted the need for Iraq to have certain weapons such as cluster bombs and anti-armor penetrates in order to stave off the Iranian attacks. When I joined the NC staff in early 1982, CIA Director Casey was adamant that cluster bombs were a perfect “force multiplier” that would allow the Iraqis to defend against the “human waves” of Iranian attackers. I recorded those comments in the minutes of National Security Planning Group (“UNPEG”) meetings in which Casey or Gates participated.
And also this:
The dust from Iran-Contra had settled sufficiently by 1991, when President George H. W. Bush nominated Gates to head the CIA. Then all hell broke loose. Playing the role discharged so well earlier this month by former IN director Carl Ford in critiquing Bolt on, a former senior Soviet analyst and CIA division chief, Meal Goodman, stepped forward and gave the Senate intelligence committee chapter and verse on how Gates had shaped intelligence analysis to suit his masters and his career. Goodman was joined at once by several other analysts who put their own careers at risk by testifying against Gates’ nomination. They were so many and so persuasive that, for a time, it appeared they had won the day. But the fix was in.
Interesting he? So now we know why the Defence Secretary can one week be urging dialogue with Iran and a couple of weeks later be advocating policies designed to provoke a military confrontation.
Back to the “surge”; let’s not forget that it’s not just 20,000 extra troops that are being sent to Iraq but also a Patriot missile battalion and a another aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. Scared yet?