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Posts Tagged ‘ Defense Secretary Robert Gates ’

  • 19 November 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Diplomacy, Neo-Con Agenda, Nuclear file, US-Iran War

Washington Post Blasts Defense Secretary Gates, Endorses Netanyahu’s War Rhetoric

The Washington Post Editorial board has called out US Defense Secretary Robert Gates for “undercutting the message” that the US may attack Iran.  The Post criticizes the Defense Secretary for defending the Administration’s Iran policy against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pressure for the US to publicly threaten Iran with military force.

Netanyahu advised that “If the international community, led by the U.S., wants to stop Iran without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action.”  This Orwellian “war is peace” calculation would only endanger US national security and drive the US closer to war with Iran.  The Defense Secretary who is responsible for the lives of American troops was right to stand firm in the face of Netanyahu’s callous, pernicious war rhetoric.

The Washington Post calls Secretary Gate’s assessment that military strikes would bring together a divided Iranian nation “speculative”.  But the Post asserts that “what we do know for sure” is that Iran curbed its nuclear program in 2003 as a result of the US invasion of Iraq.  We absolutely do not know this for sure.  The Washington Post Editorial board that helped champion the Iraq war on the basis of false intelligence should be more careful when passing off its own speculation as certainty, particularly when it comes to advancing another case for war.

The Post pits its own speculation against the assessments of not just the Defense Secretary, but also those of military leaders like General David Petraeus – who warned that an attack on Iran could be used by hardliners to galvanize support – and Iranian human rights and democracy advocates, such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, who said an attack “would give the government an excuse to kill all of its political opponents,” and that the Iranian people would resist any military action.

But if the judgment of US civilian and military leadership and Iranian activists is not enough for the Washington Post, there are plenty more reasons why saber rattling is disastrous idea.  Threats of war only help validate arguments that Iran requires a nuclear weapon as a suitable deterrent against US force.  As the US Institute of Peace and the Stimson Center recently stated in its report on engagement with Iran, “Even veiled allusions to the ‘military option’ reinforce those Iranian hardliners who argue that Iran requires nuclear weapons to deter the US, and protect Tehran’s security and freedom of action.”  The report also finds that “Official references to ‘military options’ only undermine those in Tehran who might otherwise argue for negotiated solutions to the nuclear issue.”

Furthermore, threats of military force will help unravel all of the work President Obama has invested in successfully undoing the damage of the Bush Administration and uniting the world in its Iran approach.  Our close allies have expressed serious concern about potential US saber rattling, and pursuing such a track will also alienate Russia and China, who are integral in multilateral efforts regarding Iran.

The call for saber rattling against Iran harkens back to the failed George W. Bush era in which the US looked on defiantly as Iran mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, while the US talked tough, spewed war rhetoric, and emboldened those in Iran who thrive on confrontation.  These threats undercut opportunities for peaceful, diplomatic resolutions to the US-Iran dispute by injecting significant uncertainty about US intentions on the Iranian side.  Preventing successful engagement may very well be the intended goal of those who advise that the US threaten war, as this is likewise the probable motivation of hardliners in Iran who offer similar rhetoric.  The Washington Post should not be in the business of empowering those on either side who seek to undermine engagement and eliminate options for the US to resolve its concerns with Iran through peaceful means.  With the prospect of yet third disastrous US war in the Middle East, the stakes could not be higher.

Will the Obama Administration Listen to Gates or Neo-Cons?

As a Bush Administration holdover, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has largely avoided Republican attacks.  A Republican working in a Democratic administration, Secretary Gates seems to enjoy broad support on both sides of the aisle, and his policy recommendations are generally approved of enthusiastically by both political parties.

His recent comments on Iran, however, have the potential to raise some neo-conservative hackles.  Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to convince Vice President Joe Biden, among others, to make the US military threat against Iran “credible.” Gates immediately responded, saying that “We are prepared to do what is necessary, but at this point we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is in fact having an impact in Iran.”

Yesterday, Gates pushed back even further against callously wielding the military option:

A military solution, as far as I’m concerned … it will bring together a divided nation. It will make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons. And they will just go deeper and more covert

The only long-term solution in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide it’s not in their interest. Everything else is a short-term solution.

  • 4 May 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Legislative Agenda, Sanctions

Senators Take on Obama over Iran Sanctions

The Cable reports that a bipartisan group of Senators have sent a letter to the Chairmen of the Iran sanctions conference, laying down the gauntlet regarding changes sought by the Obama Administration for the final bill, as well as multilateral efforts being pursued by the Administration.

The letter highlights the infamous Gates memo, in which Defense Secretary Gates stated that Iran could potentially assemble all the parts needed for a nuclear weapon “but stop just short of assembling a fully operational weapon.”  The Senators write that this is a reminder “that there is little time left to wait for tough new multilateral sanctions – from the United Nations or otherwise.”

However, Gates was warning that Iran may pursue the Japan model instead of seeking to become a full blown nuclear power; if anything he was calling for a serious evaluation of U.S. policy options should sanctions fail to dissuade Iran from pursuing this model, not supporting the letter’s argument that we should all panic and abandon other tools so we can rush forward with unilateral sanctions.  If there is an argument for how much time we have available to develop and pursue better options, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright assessed that Iran could not have a nuclear weapon for at least two to five years.

  • 28 September 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Sanctions

Iran Test-fires Missiles Over Weekend

Iran missile

Press-TV did not report where they landed but stated that both the tests of the Shahab-3 and Sejil-2 missiles fired Monday were successful.   An “optimized” Shahab-3 missile reportedly has a range between 800 to 1,250 miles. The Sejil-2 is a solid-fuel powered, two-stage missile with a range believed to be more than 1,200 miles.  A solid-fuel rocket has a number of distinct advantages over a liquid-fueled one; most importantly, solid fuel decreases significantly the danger posed by transporting and hiding the missile, therefore the Sejil-2 is able to be much more mobile than its counterpart, and easier to hide for quick-firing.

Three short-range missiles of range 90-125 miles, including the Iranian-made Fateh-110 and Tondar-69, a short-range naval missile, were also test-fired Sunday. The tests are were reported by Press TV as stages of “a defense drill in a bid to bolster [Iran’s] defense capabilities.”

The tests conducted by the IRGC fall on the heels of last week’s reports of the newly-revealed Qom nuclear site and days before talks are set to begin with  P-5+1 officials in Geneva.

On the U.S. side, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “The reality is, there is no military option that does anything other than buy time” questioning the prospect of aggressive action by the U.S.

Gates has expressed support for diplomacy efforts and the potential use of harsher sanctions.

Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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