"Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union," he said, "they don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."
However, Defense Secretary, Robert Gates on Tuesday seemed to disagree with the president on this issue:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he is troubled by Iranian activities in Latin America that he sees as meddling. But he told a Senate panel Tuesday that Russian military outreach there doesn't bother him at all.To be fair, Obama, at the time, was referring to the former Soviet Union and not Russia as it stands today. Nevertheless, with regards to Iran, Obama and Mr. Gates seem somewhat divided.
Iran has used the United States as a foil as it tries to establish ties with left-leaning Latin American leaders.
Gates didn't say just what he thinks Iran is up to militarily. But he called Iran a threat that Russia, despite high-profile maneuvers, is not.
Gates shrugged off Russian naval tours in places like Venezuela. He said that if Russia hadn't raised alarms by invading Georgia last year, he would have invited Russian ships to dock in Miami as well.
He said the Russian sailors would have had more fun there than in Caracas.
Thus, the question still remains: Is Iran a "serious" threat? Or is it a "medium" threat? Or perhaps it is merely a "tiny", "laughable" and "humorous" threat?
Apparently, no one really knows!... At least no one in the Obama administration seems to know, anyway.........
And as far as Russia is concerned, it seems as if Mr. Gates casually glossed over the following bit of information:
During a June trip to Russia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed a deal with the Kremlin for the purchase of five diesel-fueled submarines. The deal came one year after the purchase by Caracas of more than US$3 billion worth of military equipment from Russia.