Attention has been focused lately on JCS Chairman Peter Pace. First, he contradicted the White House over the role of the Iranian government in sponsoring attacks on US forces in Iraq. Now he has drawn attention to the readiness of US forces in the event of a third theater of conflict. What it means, I have no idea, but as usual, the brass is likely signalling its displeasure with elements of the civilian leadership at the Pentagon. In this context, Gates becomes an interesting character to watch, as he is likely the rope in a fairly unpleasant tug-of-war between the OVP (and its allies at the Pentagon) and most, but not all, of the generals. Rice has probably used this apparent tussle to score a major victory by getting Bush to sign off on meetings with the Syrians and Iranians over Iraq, but the picture of what is going on is likely much more complicated. Again, watch Gates. His movement one way or the other just might be the difference between war and peace in Iran.
I still think everything is in disarray at the WH and the National Security Council, but sometimes enormous difficulties have a way of forging a stronger, more realistic consensus on the forward direction of policy. Stay tuned.