MULLEN ON IRAN – AT 8:17 P.M. ET: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has spoken out about Iran, on the day we learned that his boss, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, warned President Obama that we have no real strategy to deal Iran if it goes nuclear. From Fox:
President Obama's principal military advisor said Sunday that all options are the table for dealing with the Iran nuclear threat and if the President calls for military action, the U.S. is prepared.
At a forum at Columbia University in New York, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stressed, however, that "use of the military should be the last option" should diplomatic engagement and sanctions fail, because any attack against Iran would entail serious "known and unknown consequences."
Responding to press reports that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned in a memo to top White House officials that the U.S. lacks an effective policy for dealing with Iran, Admiral Mullen said, "We at the Pentagon, we plan for contingencies all the time and certainly there are [military] options which exist." He said he has worried about a nuclear armed Iran for a long time because of President Ahmadinejad's unbridled threats against Israel and "worry that other countries in the region will then seek to, actually, I know they will seek nuclear weapons, as well."
When asked whether giving more time to diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis put the U.S. military at a disadvantage in maximizing any potential strike against Iran, Admiral Mullen said, "it is being taken into consideration in the decision calculus, if you will, to strike." He said that clearly there is "not much decision space to work in," because Iran "having a weapon and striking [against Iran] generate consequences that are unpredictable."
COMMENT: Clearly, the top uniformed officer at the Pentagon is seeking to reassure the country that American military planners would know how to strike Iran if the order came...if you can imagine it coming from this president.
But I wish the Iranian threat would be described in more detail. Yes, Iran is a threat to Israel and, yes, an Iranian bomb would probably start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. But the far greater threat Iran poses is that it could sail a nuclear device into an American port in the hold of a cargo ship and use a suicide crew to set it off, with no way of tracing the origin of the weapon. And further, Iran could give nuclear components to terror groups, if it chose to, magnifying Iran's power if it Tehran possessed only five or six bombs.
April 18, 2010