Obama dispatches missile defenses to the Persian Gulf

Credit where credit is due?

The US is dispatching Patriot defensive missiles to four countries – Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait – and keeping two ships in the Gulf capable of shooting down Iranian missiles. Washington is also helping Saudi Arabia develop a force to protect its oil installations.

American officials said the move is aimed at deterring an attack by Iran and reassuring Gulf states fearful that Tehran might react to sanctions by striking at US allies in the region. Washington is also seeking to discourage Israel from a strike against Iran by demonstrating that the US is prepared to contain any threat.

The deployment comes after Obama’s attempts to emphasise diplomacy over confrontation in dealing with Iran – a contrast to the Bush administration’s approach – have failed to persuade Tehran to open its nuclear installations to international controls. The White House is now trying to engineer agreement for sanctions focused on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, believed to be in charge of the atomic programme.

Washington has not formally announced the deployment of the Patriots and other anti-missile systems, but by leaking it to American newspapers the administration is evidently seeking to alert Tehran to a hardening of its position. (Emphasis added.)

Apparently, not enough of the establishment media noticed that Gen. David H. Petraeus went public with most of this “news” back on Jan. 22. The timing is key, as the Senate passed an Iran sanctions bill Thursday night, with the aid of Joementum. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has responded with some sabre-rattling of his own, promising a harsh blow to the “global arrogance” next week, to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Kudos to Julian Barnes of the L.A. Times for looking at the bigger picture:

Obama administration officials also hope to head off an expanded nuclear arms race in the region. If Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, or is seen as making progress toward acquiring one, wealthy Arab Gulf governments could seek their own weapons, a scenario Washington views as potentially volatile.

That is an understatement, given that Iran’s nuclear ambition already has the Gulf states looking at developing similarly “peaceful” nuclear programs.

Allahpundit/McLaughlin-esque exit question: Do these moves signal that Pres. Obama is taking the Iranian threat seriously, or are they another sign that he is planning for the day that the “international community” failed to stop Iran from getting the bomb?