Gates, who replaced Donald Rumsfeld, looks to be one of the rare specimens in Bush-administration with a 'saner mindset' so far, and he has been entrusted to win over Iraq, which many termed as already lost, and thereby make progress in broader 'War against Terror' as launched by Bush administration. The whole world supported President Bush when his administration coined that famous campaign 'War against Terror' after 9/11, but then when he invaded Iraq as a logical step forward in his so-far globally much supported war against terror, people started dubbing that as 'his' own war.
Needless to say, that voice has only got stronger by the day, globally, and then within US which sent a strong signal in last election, and now reverberates within US Congress with new-found Democrat majority.
True, one cold war was enough. However the obvious question that bothers many in Russia, China, India, EU, in the Middle-East and even within US is when do we say one Bush administration is enough. When do we say 'One Bush Administration was enough' is it after another potential carnage in Iran, or even before that.
The costs of Cold War was huge, although in terms of human casualty it fortunately never was as high as seen in Iraq due to the obvious balance one superpower kept over the other. Since the collapse of erstwhile Soviet Russia, the US has been the monopoly-power over global geo-politics. And we know what happens in a monopoly, the industry stagnates without competition and innovation, and so do the monopoly power in future when unexpected competition emerges from some unknown competitors because of the complacency culture it already developed.
We have seen that happening umpteen times in global business world Microsoft and Google happen to be the often-cited latest examples of that. So monopoly rots (although Microsoft never had similar monopoly power for same period in desktop-computing environment as US has been enjoying in global geo-politics). Monopoly rots, and absolute monopoly rots absolutely. Global geo-politics isn't an exception.
We know policy-makers don't change fast, they don't learn from their business-world counterparts on how to adapt to the changing scenario of global geo-politics. Policy-makers, in each country have policies on how to regulate monopoly power (e.g. Antitrust Policy in the US or European Commission in the EU), however there's no equivalent of those globally that can regulate monopoly power, and more so abusive power of any monopoly in global geo-politics. We know the UN exists, and we also know Allied Forces, led by the US invaded Iraq even though UN had termed that 'illegal'.
Iran now rekindles those memories of cold war, and the skirmishes of evidence again point out to the 'high-tech, sophisticated' evidences showed in UN over Iraq by Powell, barely four years or so ago. There's increased military preparedness by both US and Iran, and theories to conspiracy theories link most global developments, from North Korea settlement to Nuclear Iran to insurgency-stricken Iraq to so-called 'evidences' now emerging point to an increasing possibility of US invading Iran. Schools of thoughts are again divided on likely outcome of such an invasion; majority of experts feeling US would again win the air-battle but lose the broader Middle-East war, and thereby further weakening its war-against-terror. Minority though they are, another conspiracy school suggest things may not be as easy-a-cake-walk for US Navy, the base for any such attack in that region, may come under Iran's missile attacks.
Build on top of the possibility that Russia, China playing a more active role in such an attack than their earlier usual role of mere noisy spectator's during Iraq invasion. True, these emerging power blocks lack trust amongst them-selves and still lack the capability of military power that US has however in wars no one wins. And with stronger parties getting involved in any conflict, the damages only increase. And that damage happens to the civilians and the children as evident from following statistics as given by Howard Zinn:
"The different ratio of civilian-to-military deaths in war, how in World War I, ten military dead for one civilian dead; in World War II, it was 50-50, half military, half civilian; in Vietnam, it was 70% civilian and 30% military; and in the wars since then, it's 80% and 85% civilian... one-third of them, children".
So the alternative of a rotten monopoly may not be back to cold war of 1960s and 70s. It may be a healthy competition as Pepsi-Coke knows, as Airbus-Boeing faces, as Intel-AMD fights, and as Google-Microsoft plays.
Mr. Gates, being the rare specimen in Bush-administration as he looks like, should know this too well. Through this increased games of rhetoric, the rest of the world along with US Congress and American citizens are desparately trying to send an SOS - a strong signal to that monopoly when that superpower happens to be facing a crisis under Bush-Administration, due to its very own actions.
It's important that Washington gets that signal right.