- By Stephen M. WaltStephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates cleans out his desk and heads for retirement, Ido Oren of the University of Florida highlights what might have been his most important accomplishment: preventing a war with Iran. Money quotation:
"This scenario [of war with Iran] failed to materialize because the political forces pushing for active consideration of the military option — Vice President Dick Cheney’s camp in the George W. Bush White House, hawkish pundits, key congressional leaders and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — have been outmaneuvered by an informal antiwar coalition that included the Pentagon, the military’s top brass, the intelligence community and the Department of State.
This coalition was ably led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is stepping down from his post at the end of the month. If one person were to receive the top credit for preventing an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, it would be Gates."
This non-incident also reminds us that sometimes policymakers succeed not by achieving some positive goal, but by helping produce a "non-event"; in this case, preventing the dogs of war from barking. Those who’d like the United States to be at odds with the entire Muslim world for the next century or so are probably disappointed that we didn’t add Iran to the list that now includes Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya (and arguably, Pakistan), but the rest of us should be grateful for this rare bit of sanity.
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the author of The Arab Uprising (March 2012, PublicAffairs).
He publishes frequently on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arab media and information technology, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Islamist movements.| Marc Lynch |
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |