Robert Gates, preparing to step down from his job as secretary of defense, has spoken for the first time about his severe doubts about the U.S. wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Gates is reputed to have also opposed U.S. support for the Libya intervention.
What struck me especially in this article was this statement that could’ve been lifted out of Meir Dagan’s testimony against Israel’s plans to attack Iran:
Mr. Gates was asked to confirm reports of policy duels during the two years before Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney left office, a time in which he was said to have been successful in altering policies or blocking missions that might have escalated into another conflict.
“The only thing I guess I would say to that is: I hope I’ve prevented us from doing some dumb things over the past four and a half years — or maybe dumb is not the right word, but things that were not actually in our interest,” Mr. Gates said.
…Some of the defense secretary’s confidants…confirmed that Mr. Gates prevented provocative, adventurist policies against Iran, in particular, that might have spun into war.
…“I also think that he prevented further adventures, particularly in our relationship with countries like Iran, that could have turned into military intervention had he not become secretary of defense,” said [former U.S. Senator David] Boren, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma. “I think that he stepped us back from a policy of brinkmanship.”
This news makes me believe that the red-light that George Bush gave to Ehud Olmert when he visited Washington asking for permission to attack Iran was due in no small part to the opposition of Gates. He was one of the sole sane figures in the administration who stood against the cries for war of Cheney and the war camp. It makes you wonder what might’ve happened if Gates had been defense secretary in 2003 instead of Donald Rumsfeld.
Dagan used almost precisely the same language to describe Bibi Netanyahu’s would-be Iranian adventurism. He called the idea of an attack on Iran, “dumb.” And almost the same scenario is portrayed in the Israeli press when Dagan attended a fateful meeting of senior ministers who had the power to authorize war against Iran. It was the then Mossad chief who almost single-handedly persuaded enough of the ministers to vote No, so that Bibi and Barak’s plans had to be scuttled.
- Israeli Strike on Iran Would Be ‘Stupid,’ Ex-Spy Chief Says (nytimes.com)
- Meir Dagan: Israel Attack on Iran ‘Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard’ (richardsilverstein.com)