Gates: Diplomacy Route on Nukes in Iran, Syria

Blake Hounshell transcribes Secretary of Defense Bob Gates’ comments about U.S. plans vis-a-vis Iran and Syria on yesterday’s “Fox News Sunday.” While Gates was “cagey” in his reply, using the required disclaimer that “All options are on the table,” it’s quite clear that military intervention is simply not in the cards for either set of problems.

I continue to believe that various leaks about planning for military solutions to these crises are simply exercises in maintaining some level of uncertainty in the minds of Iranian and Syrian officials to give more weight to negotiations. From all indications, though, our rivals know full well that massive air strikes, let alone ground invasion, aren’t on the table and that the only ones being fooled are Seymour Hersh and a handful of bloggers.

UPDATE: Thomas Edsall has the contrarian view at HuffPo, claiming that, “The drumbeat for a military assault on Iran is getting louder at some conservative think tanks, in the offices of hawks on the Bush and Cheney staffs, and among ground forces in Iraq dealing with weapons and explosives constructed in Iran.”

The grown-ups are universally opposed to a military solution to this problem on the very practical grounds that it will almost surely not work. While it’s true that we went to war with Iraq despite intense opposition from the foreign policy elite, the consensus on that was not nearly as strong as it is here. And the Iraqi mess itself provides all manner of constraints, political and logistical, to similar action in Iran and/or Syria.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Note, too, who keeps that ball in the air.

  2. […] agree with James Joyner that much of Washington’s sabre-rattling with respect to Iran are “simply exercises in […]

  3. Cernig says:

    You mean you don’t think there’s a sizeable contingent of think tank FP types who have considerable influence in the administration (especially the Fourth Branch) who think attacking Iran would be a wonderful idea and have even roped administration officials in to help with computer modelling saying it could even be good for the economy?

    Or do you mean you just don’t think those influential FP types are as influential as they have been in the past?

    Regards, C

  4. James Joyner says:

    You mean you don’t think there’s a sizeable contingent of think tank FP types who have considerable influence in the administration (especially the Fourth Branch) who think attacking Iran would be a wonderful idea and have even roped administration officials in to help with computer modelling saying it could even be good for the economy?

    Or do you mean you just don’t think those influential FP types are as influential as they have been in the past?

    Both, really.

    Aside from a handful of the most rabid neocons, nobody in the FPC is counseling military action against Iran. And those who are are decidedly less influential in the current environment.

  5. Andy says:

    Aside from a handful of the most rabid neocons, nobody in the FPC is counseling military action against Iran. And those who are are decidedly less influential in the current environment.

    And who, exactly, do you think the White House listens to?

    Here’s a hint: Begins with “r” and ends with “abid neocons.”

  6. Tano says:

    “The grown-ups are universally opposed to a military solution to this problem on the very practical grounds that it will almost surely not work.”

    Unfortunatly, the grownups are not the deciders.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    So a nuclear armed Iran is acceptable to who? How do you negotiate with people who strap bombs to their children?

  8. […] hoof beats.  For less inflammatory commentary, check out Blake Hounshell, Dave Schuler, and James Joyner, who thinks the brinkmanship is “simply [an exercise] in mintaining some level of uncertainty in […]