Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gates Test: Obama vs. Bush

Pentagon Chief Robert Gates warned the world not to test President Barack Obama in his early days in office. Haaretz reported:

Anyone who thought that the upcoming months might present opportunities to test the new administration would be sorely mistaken," he told the Manama Dialogue conference, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"President Obama and his national security team, myself included, will be ready to defend the interests of the United States from the moment he takes office on January 20th."

Ironically, his words at the Bahrain security conference pointed to the failures of his current boss, George W. Bush.

He repeated longstanding appeals for Sunni Arab states to support Iraq's U.S.-backed government with full diplomatic relations and forgiveness of Saddam
Hussein-era debts.

Sunni Arab powers have harbored deep reservations about the Baghdad government, believing it to be sectarian and too close politically to Shi'ite-dominated Iran.

Gates said Sunni states should welcome a chance to forge close relations with Iraq, partly to prevent Iran from doing so.

"There is no doubt that Iran has been heavily engaged in trying to influence the development and direction of the Iraqi government - and not as a good neighbor," he said.

"Iraq wants to be your partner," he told his audience. "And, given the challenges in the Gulf, and the reality of Iran, you should wish to be theirs."

Five years after freeing Iraq, the Middle East remains unstable. America plans for troops to stay indefinitely, despite an agreement saying otherwise. Western interests in the region are vast. Fighting piracy is a huge concern. It validates the huge U.S. military presence. How will that stick be mobilized? It depends on the test. Bush-F, Obama-?

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