Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document. – Gates Says U.S. Lacks Policy to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Drive

Talk about catnip for the right. They’re absolutely salivating over this one, which will be teed up further on wingnut radio tomorrow. But it’s not like Bush had a plan in place for Iran either, unless you call belligerent bombast and diplomatic freeze-out a strategy.

And why do we not have a long-range plan to deal with Iran going nuclear? Because as I’ve been saying for a very long time, the U.S. cannot prevent Iran from going nuclear, even if they cannot successfully weaponize their technology for a while. But also because no president, White House strategist, or national politician, is allowed to utter anything beyond We will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, something everyone who studies the issue knows is absolute rubbish.

A nuclear capable Iran inevitably leads towards Israel in U.S. political minds, with no person capable of strategizing on U.S. Middle East policy without thinking of our fried first. It paralyzes policy makers.

People have been whispering about a nuclear Iran reality for a very long time. It’s why diplomatic engagement and deterrence is the policy of the day, post Bush’s preemptive doctrine, which was far too nebulous to do anything but stir up more trouble.

The reality is that there is no way to prevent Iran’s steady march to nuclearization, going beyond domestic capabilities.

Meanwhile, the Netanyahu government brays that they won’t allow a nuclear Iran and the United States shouldn’t either. Pushing the U.S. to realize and visualize the day after Iran inevitably goes nuclear. What’s next?, our friend asks, as if Pres. Obama hasn’t thought about the answer, even if there isn’t a good one.

Expect this conveniently leaked news to escalate the drumbeat against Iran, which will soon become the national security political issue for the elections to come.