Well, well, well. What do we have buried here in Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ new essay for the Army War College journal Parameters?

Conner’s axiom—never fight unless you have to—looms over policy discussions today regarding rogue nations like Iran that support terrorism; that is a destabilizing force throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia and, in my judgment, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. In fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels. The military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat, either directly or through nuclear proliferation.

Emphasis mine, and I was tipped to this by Cato Institute foreign-policy scholar Justin Logan. There’s the appropriate bureaucratic wiggle-room here, but this seems a lot like Gates’ most public statement of opposition so far to a potential war with Iran. It probably shouldn’t be noteworthy that such a sensible position is newsworthy, but, alas, Gates does work for George W. Bush, after all.

Crossposted at The Streak.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman