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September 26, 2017

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Robert Gates links Iran and Mexico

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Cabinet holdover from the Bush years, is in the news regarding two major issues, and in each case is challenged to demonstrate that he remains in charge of the enormous Pentagon.

In one case, he has disagreed sharply with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding Iran's nuclear weapons capacity. In the other, he appears to disagree with himself, at least in institutional terms, regarding Mexico's enormous expanding drug traffic.

The problems represented by developments in both nations have very strong implications for Asia and indeed the comprehensive international system of nations. Iran is steadily growing in influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, one byproduct of the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq not anticipated by the Bush administration. The problem of Islamic radicalism, and the development in turn of associated terrorist groups, is however global in scope, reflected recently in the violence in Mumbai India. The largest Muslim population in the world is found in Indonesia.

Drug trafficking likewise is a global problem. Illicit manufacturers as well as traders are to be found in literally every country on the globe. Southeast Asia traditionally has been a major source of supply.

On NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Gates stated that Iran is "not close to" having nuclear weapons, concluding that "there is some time." That same day on CNN's State of the Union, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen was explicit that Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

Without doubt, Iran is escalating the long-term confrontation with the U.S. and Israel in particular, and Western European nations and the United Nations in general, over development of nuclear weapons. On Feb. 2, Tehran launched a space satellite. Despite declarations that the rocket was launched for peaceful purposes, the dramatic development is rightly regarded as a provocation when the new Obama administration is searching for ways to reopen useful policy dialogue with the fundamentalist regime.

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