FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Robert Gates is Rumsfeld Lite

by RAY McGOVERN

Press reporting on information provided to the Senate by Robert Gates, President George W. Bush’s nominee for the post of defense secretary, show Gates hewing closely to the rhetoric of his predecessor. Gates is shown to be more parrot than innovator in his responses to a questionnaire given him by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which takes up his nomination on Dec. 5.

None of this surprises those of us who for decades have watched Gates make career after career out of trimming his sails to the prevailing winds. No one should expect Gates to depart one iota from the position of the president, who repeated yesterday that there will be no troop pullout from Iraq “until the job is complete.” In answering the senators’ questions, Gates insisted that an early pullout would risk “leaving Iraq in chaos [with] dangerous consequences both in the region and globally for many years to come.”

No surprise either in Gates’ strong endorsement of spending billions more on-and prematurely deploying-the missile defense system that was Rumsfeld’s pet project and for an earlier version of which Gates saw fit to advocate, even while he was still CIA director. Even if the system can be made to work (and this has yet to be demonstrated), the it is of highly dubious utility in preventing the kinds of terrorist attacks that appear far more likely than a nuclear-tipped missile from a “rogue” state like North Korea or Iran-if they ever succeed in developing one.

Gates lumps the two together, saying, “North Korea and Iran continue to develop longer range missiles and are determined to pursue weapons of mass destruction.” In attributing this intention to Iran, Gates demonstrates that he has lost none of his verve as master-practitioner of what we intelligence alumni call “faith-based intelligence.” Among serious intelligence analysts, especially in the Department of Energy where the expertise lies, the jury is out on whether the evidence proves that Iran is embarked on a weapons-related nuclear program-and, if so, how soon it might have a deliverable nuclear weapon. And the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei also keeps saying existing evidence permits no hard and fast conclusions.

In prejudging that key issue, Gates has elevated the status of Iranian intentions, in Rumsfeldian parlance, from a “known unknown” to a “known known.” In doing so, he has thrown in his lot with the so-called “neo-conservatives,” whose record for accuracy in such judgments leaves much to be desired, and who-after a pre-election lull-have been revving up for another try at prevailing on the president to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Gates’ position on Iran’s nuclear weapons plans suggests he will not put up much resistance to importuning by Vice President Dick Cheney and the neo-conservatives-not to mention the Israelis-that Iran’s fledgling nuclear program must be nipped in the bud.

In what is known so far of the information in the completed questionnaire, Gates made one departure from long established White House policy. Very much in tune with the admonishment of his patron Jim Baker that talking directly with adversaries in not “appeasement,” Gates implicitly criticized the anathema on negotiating with the likes of Syria and Iran, stressing that such talks could come “as part of an international conference” of the kind the Baker/Hamilton group is said to be suggesting.

A New First: Snubbed by a Quisling

President George W. Bush landed in Amman yesterday afternoon for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister with a thick cloud hanging over their abortive meeting. The leaked memo of Nov. 8 criticizing Maliki by national security adviser Stephen Hadley threatened to scuttle the talks entirely, but after Maliki canceled yesterday’s meeting, he and Bush managed to put up a good, but transparent, front today.

Among other indignities, the memo gives the lie to the president’s protestation Tuesday that Iraq is “a sovereign nation.” Maliki’s quisling status is laid bare, and Hadley’s suggestion that the U.S. “consider monetary support to moderate groups” will not go down well with the immoderate groups raising hell in Baghdad.

Equally clear in the memo is the White House’s continuing divorce from reality. For example, under “Steps Maliki Could Take,” Hadley leads the list with:

“Bring his political strategy with Moktada al-Sadr to closure and bring to justice any [Mahdi Army] actors that do not eschew violence.”

Right.

This is in the same league of naïveté as the Washington Post’s editors’ solemn but lame suggestion yesterday:

“Mr. Maliki needs to give his own deadline to the Americans for launching a truly make-or-break campaign to retake the streets of Baghdad.”

Been there; tried that. Where have the Post’s editors been over the past few months?

There is some irony, if not comic relief, in Hadley’s observation that “the information he [Maliki] receives is undoubtedly skewed by his small circle of Dawa advisers.” And so it is in Washington as well. If Gates is confirmed this will not sweeten the flavor of the self-licking ice cream cone that is the coterie of advisers around our president.

RAY McGOVERN works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. After serving as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then 27 years as a CIA analyst, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

This article appeared first on TomPaine.com.

 

 

 

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). He can be reached at: rrmcgovern@gmail.com. A version of this article first appeared on Consortiumnews.com.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail