Doug Bandow writes:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates must want Iran to build nuclear weapons. He didn’t say that directly. But how else should one interpret his latest threat against the embattled Persian Gulf state?
In what he said was his last major policy address, Secretary Gates expressed hope that Iraq would allow U.S. troops to remain. In fact, that’s a really bad idea, since America’s mission is over and Washington can’t afford to occupy the entire globe. Once defeated, forever occupied appears to be the secretary’s slogan. We are lucky that the Pentagon doesn’t still have army garrisons in Mexico, defeated back in 1848.
Secretary Gates talked about redeeming America’s blood “investment” and demonstrating that Washington planned to stay engaged in the region. He added: “It would be reassuring to the Gulf States. It would not be reassuring to Iran, and that is a good thing.”
There obviously is much to dislike about Iran. An authoritarian theocracy with little sympathy for individual liberty. A troublesome meddler backing brutal Syria and aggressive Hezbollah. A regime with grudges against America’s favorite totalitarian theocracy, Saudi Arabia, and favorite democracy, Israel. A geopolitical adversary with strong connections in Iraq, which the Bush administration had hoped would become a base for American military operations. An untrustworthy government apparently developing nuclear weapons.
Obviously, none of these are good. But will failing to reassure Iran—in fact, doing the utmost to unsettle Iran—make the region safer? The fact that the regime is odious does not mean that it has no legitimate security concerns, concerns constantly exacerbated by Washington. If the United States does not reassure Tehran, the mullahs, and whoever might replace them, would be foolish to abandon their presumed nuclear program.