If There Was Any Doubt about Where the Pentagon Stands on Iran

It was dispelled Wednesday by Adm. Mike Mullen, who repeatedly made clear that he opposes an attack on Iran — whether by Israel or his own forces — and, moreover, favors dialogue with Tehran. While various media have printed or run excerpts of his press conference, I think it might be useful to post virtually all of his remarks regarding Iran just to illustrate how clear he was:

[In his opening statement, he says] “I will say this, however: My position with regard to the Iranian regime hasn’t changed. They remain a destabilizing factor in the region, and that’s evident and actually more evident when one visits. But I’m convinced a solution still lies in using other elements of national power to change Iranian behavior, including diplomatic, financial and international pressure. There is a need for better clarity, even dialogue at some level.”

[In response to a question about his discussions with his counterpart in Israel during his recent visit there, he says] “Certainly, the concern about Iran continues to exist. And you talk about the nuclear threat. And I believe they’re still on a path to get to nuclear weapons and I think that’s something that needs to be deterred. They are — and I talk about my time up on the border. They are very involved with Syria, very involved with Hezbollah, supporting Hamas. And so the network that they support is also a very dangerous one and a very destabilizing one.”

[Asked about what the consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran and how the Iranians would react, he says] “Well, I …don’t want to speculate in that regard. Clearly, there is a very broad concern about the stability level — the overall stability level in the Middle East. I’ve been pretty clear before that from the United States’ perspective, the United States’ military perspective in particular, that opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us. That doesn’t mean we don’t have capacity or reserve, but that would really be very challenging. And also the consequences of that sometimes are very difficult to predict.

“So I think that, you know, just about every move in that part of the world is a high-risk move. And that’s why I think it’s so important that the international piece, the financial piece, the diplomatic piece, the economic piece be brought to bear with a level of intensity that resolves this.”

[Asked whether he was suggesting that an Israeli attack would drag the U.S. into a military confrontation with Iran, he says] “I’m not specifically again speculating about what the consequences of any action would be. It is a very, very broad, and what has been enduring for a while, concern about the instability in that part of the world. And destabilizing acts, destabilizing events are of great concern to me.”

“…I’m really very focused on trying to inject as much stability in that part of the world. And it is my view that Iran is at the center of what is unstable in that part of the world. And it reaches all the way, you know, from Tehran to Beirut.”

[After insisting that U.S. forces could prevent Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz at least for any sustained period, Mullen is asked to elaborate on what he meant by the need for dialogue and whether it includes military-to-military talks.] “No, I’ve — when I talk about dialogue — actually, I would say very broadly, across the entirety of our government and their government, but specifically that would … need to be led, obviously, politically and diplomatically. And if it then resulted in a military-to-military dialogue, I think that part of it certainly could add to a better understanding about each other. But I’m really focused on the diplomatic aspect.”

“…We haven’t had much of a dialogue with the Iranians for a long time, and I think if I were just to take the high stakes that …I just talked about a minute ago, part of the results of that engagement or lack of engagement, I think, is there. But as has been pointed out more than once, it takes two people to want to have a dialogue, not just the desire on one part.”

[Asked whether he’s saying there’s a need for dialogue between the United States government and the Iranian government, he says] “…I think it’s a broad dialogue. I think it would cover the full spectrum of international — and it could very well certainly cover the dialogue between us as well.”

Mullen is actually going further in calling for dialogue than former Centcom Commander Adm. William “Fox” Fallon did. And note that there’s no mention of the current precondition, that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment. His opposition to any attack by Israel is really quite explicit.

Now, the question is, why did Mullen, who clearly enjoys the backing of his boss, Pentagon chief Robert Gates, go as far as he went in his remarks? Is it simply an effort to tamp down rising tensions (and oil prices) set off the threats and counter-threats of the last few weeks, as even the White House seemed inclined to do, particularly in the wake of Israel’s well-advertised exercises last month and the publication of Sy Hersh’s New Yorker article over the weekend? Does it reflect real concern that Israel may indeed be preparing to attack unilaterally or that the hawks are gaining ground in their push for an attack before the the administration leaves office? Or does it reflect confidence that the realists are in control and that now, particularly in light of indications this past week that the Iranians may be prepared to conditionally accept the latest 5+1 offer, is the moment to push for serious engagement? I think it’s still too early to tell, but the message behind these remarks is pretty clear: the Pentagon brass are firmly opposed to military action.

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

  • Brad Smith

    Is There Was Any Doubt about Where the Pentagon Stands on Iran? Well yah there is a ton of doubt. Obviously it could be disinformation. Or would that be the first time the Pentagon ever did such a thing? I would love to think that they care more about our country and the lives that are at stake, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. The Neo-Cons want this war and will do everything and anything to make it happen. The only way the Pentagon can stop it is with a full out overthrow of the government. Do you really think they can or would do that?

    It may very well come down to a full out revolution and that would require the help of the Military brass. However, I really don’t see that happening untill after the sh$t hits the fan. When the war starts and the US truly hits bottom, then it may, but not before that. The brain dead sheeple will not stand up untill it’s too late. When all their property is gone, their pentions, their IRA’s, their food and any ability to even feed themselves, it might happen. But you can count on it, no true revolution will happen untill we hit the bottom, and may be not even then.

    I am not calling for a violent Revolution, but we sure as hell should be prepared for stikes and civil disobediance. If thats what it takes to save our great nation we should do it, in force. If everyone wants to keep their heads in the sand, then oh well, stock up on food, guns, water, etc. Your going to need it. (I’m already doing it and so should you)

    Peace!

    • R. Nelson

      Fortunately you have a fairly common name, Brad, because if Bush flushes America down the toilet again and everyone knows you’re all stocked up, you might be in trouble.

      Now, how can our Bush even consider yet another war? Because our Boy in the Bubble hasn’t the faintest idea of what his policies have done. This buffoon, who relies solely on digested pap his advisers spit up for information, didn’t even know a few weeks back that gas was close to 4$ a gallon. No wonder war with Iran seems feasible. Ten dollar a gallon gas hasn’t even been broached to him.

      Ah, democracy, you gotta love it. Eight years of Clinton, then eight years of Bubble Boy, and now at least four years of either Tweedledum or Tweedledee. There cannot be a stupider voting populace in the galaxy.

  • Mullen will be out the door within the month, just like Fallon.

    Is there any doubt where DICK CHENEY stands on Iran?

    And he and Bush are the ones giving the orders, Jim. Gates and Mullen take orders. Get a clue.

  • anti-neocon/anti-neolib

    Do what Brad says, and thanks also to Richard,sorry to say. Jim Lode is dreaming.

  • The comment by Brad Smith is very interesting. One of the strange things I am witnessing is the militarizing of NYC. They are now more police, sercurity personel, guards, and private militia on NYC streets that one cannot help getting the impression one is in a war zone. And the real culprit behind it is the present mayor of the City. Bloomberg has displayed strong Zionist tendencies. In a rather cunning move he lowered the starting salary of the NYC police to a paltry sum, ostensible to offset the rate hike of the veterans. But the consequences of that is a lowering of the quality of persons becoming police, thereby allowing a great many foreign alien, and innercity ghetto types (including a large contingent of females)to join the force Force. These types, grateful for the opportunity to make a reasonable living, are more likely to show their gratitude to their benefactor through unreasonable loyalty should the occasion ever arises where they are called upon to defend the status quo. A sidebar to this is the police are now placing these elevated guard posts periodically throughout the black community, monitoring the citizens movement, under the pretense they are looking for criminals, where in fact they are really setting up a plan should the economy suddenly collapse and the citizens are forced to go to the street (mostly likely it would start with the blacks)the government would be prepared. John Kurius.

    • Mr. JWO

      What a comment?? John K your stupid!!! Go suck on egg you dip!! most wars in modern time started with white folk hint!! hint!! european, anglo saxon etc…no need to even print list it’s right in your local library. I’m sure someone can help you read your history!!!since you can’t or won’t!!! how dare you blame ((foreign alien element)) code word for anyone not white, for any riots that could ensure in case of national threat. Was 9/11 race riot or whatever you. No it wasn’t. We are all americans it’s not color thing, we should be proud to be americans period. Your comments make me sick, go back to you hole where you came from you jerk!!!

      • Brad Smith

        WOW JWO! you must have read a differnt comment then I did. Or are just unbelievably sensitive to the subject? NO it’s not a “color thing” it’s about oppression and African American communities being the most oppressed are usually the first to respond (and riot). Yes most of our wars are started by caucasians but can you honestly say that most of the riots have been caucasion.

        While stationed in California (7th infantry division) we were called out to “restore order” during the LA riots. I think this is more in line with what John Kurius was writting about. When order begins to break down the government will call in the troops.

        After having seen the aftermath of invasion (Operation Just Cause), the total chaos that comes after, the looting the deaths etc. I would never want to be caught in the middle of it, nor would I participate or condone any violence or destruction of property. Unfortunately this may be where we are headed and people should be prepared. I think the fact that the government is perparing should be seen as a clue to the rest of us.

        Peace!

      • CJ

        I think that what John is trying to say is that those who are already on the brink of/in abject poverty will be the first to feel and react to any national collapse that happens. Those of us who have health care, jobs, savings, i.e. much more to cushion the initial blow of a financial breakdown, and much more invested in the status quo as a consequence.

      • R. Nelson

        What would we do without exclamation marks?!!!!

    • Tim R.

      John Kurius writes: “One of the strange things I am witnessing is the militarizing of NYC. They are now more police, sercurity personel, guards, and private militia on NYC streets that one cannot help getting the impression one is in a war zone”

      Oh give me a break. I live in NYC and it is nothing like you describe. In fact, I wish there were MORE cops on the street. We put over 10,000 more cops on the street in the last 15 years in this town and what happend? Murder drops from over 2,000 per year in 1990 to less than 500 per year for the last few years. Thank God for the cops. We need more of them on the street to keep crime down AND to help guard this A-1 Prime target, NYC, against another attack by the Islamo Terrorists.

      • X

        Your using the expression “Islamo Terrorists” gives me licence to use the expression “Judeo Terrorists” with the same abandon. Now, regarding the progressive militarization of policing in NYC, it is unclear who are actually being protected. NYC has been transformed into a military-occupied area where M-16 totting police manning check-points constantly harass the citizens. For all practical purposes, the similarities between NYC and the West Bank are increasingly obvious.

  • Dan T

    One thing I remember about the Bush administration’s pre-war strategy vis-a-vis public opinion (at home and abroad) was the ‘will we/won’t we’ phenomenon. That is, official statements were hawkish one moment, and optimistic about diplomacy the other. War with Iraq was either inevitable, or a mere option being entertained. I particularly remember one statement to the effect that “There are no war plans on my desk at this moment”, even after such plans (and, I think, naval deployments) were already underway. It was perhaps a way of softening us up, gradually getting us used to the idea of an unprovoked invasion – which, five years ago, seemed unprecedented and crazy – as an idea.

    I sincerely hope this is not the case with Iran. Is the Pentagon simply being wheeled out to make the administration look reasonable? Is Mullen just a good cop, to Cheney’s bad cop? Does the Pentagon actually have any say in the matter, either way?

    Peace in our time…?

  • Ali

    The fact of the matter is that the P5+1 on Iran is broken. The Europeans’ latest unilateral sanctions against Iran, has left the Russians and the Chinese out of the loop. It sort of can be looked at as the six month presidency of the McCain. That is why the Europeans are talking up more sanctions every day. They are losing it, and losing it real bad. Which for a stitched up entity like the EU that thinks, that to China, having clown Sarkozy and a couple of other European miserables at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is worth a country like Iran, is hardly anywhere near what they deserve. So, that is about it. And Iran knows it. There is propaganda about the resumption of nuclear weapons work in Iran on the right wing newspapers so childish in content and so purposefully ignorant of the facts that it is obvious that the Israelis and the Cheney gang are hitting rock bottom as far as Iran’s nuclear case goes. Admiral Mullen is calling for peace, which is very fine. The only way he can assure that is to evacuate the American military personnel from the Persian Gulf. No need to overthrow the American government as was suggested above. Just leave and keep only a handful of transportation ships for the American hardware left in Iraq, and let Iran and other countries of the region clean up the mess that America has created in the region.

  • While I’m not familiar enough with Adm. Mullen or his political leanings to form an objective opinion on his statements, I do believe that what he said echoes the opinion of the majority of the military brass, not only within the Pentagon, but in the field as well, and certainly echoes the sentiments of most of the rank and file. No one knows better, from both an operational and political standpoint, than the active duty personnel of the United States Armed Forces just how deeply in a state of collapse the military is after seven years of Shrubtard’s disastrous, neocon-controlled presidency. These folks know that any initiation of hostilities against Iran is suicidal, in both tactical and strategic terms, not to mention the economic implications of such a foolish move. The key question is: How many of these men (and women) will stand up to the current (and future?) administration and refuse to take this country down the path of total destruction? My own experience, based on having spent nearly twenty years on active duty in a previous lifetime, tells that the answer is “not many, if any at all.” Politics and careerism, not honor, or a sense of duty to defend the Constitution, are what motivates career military personnel today.

  • When push comes to shove and Bush Co orders an attack on Iran will the upper brass of the US military refuse or comply? Will some comply and others refuse?

    You think America is divided now – just wait. A war on Iran could bring on the worst recession since the Great Depression. This will affect every other country in the world as well. Who do you think will be blamed?

  • the legendary Bill

    The Israeli-First neo-cons and their war-profiteering allies need to be blamed but I’m not going to hold my breath..the average American is so ignorant about what’s really going on that they probably deserve $8 gallon ( higher ?) gas..

  • Well duh the guys doing the paper work in the pentagon can see where the Bush Crusades are going to get us…
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsEmT3vsrRs
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    .

  • Ted Voth Jr

    So, Brad, you’d like to see a military coup d’état?

    • Brad Smith

      NO but it may come to that. I don’t think the American people can do it alone. It would take a joint revolt by the people and the military including the Pentagon. We have been sliding into fascism for years and the slope is only getting steeper. Something needs to change fast or it will be by by America. I don’t want to see that happen either. The problems are easy to see but the solutions are much harder to come by. I would hope for civil disobediance in the form of nation wide strikes, rallies, boycotts, and any other non-violent means to bring us back to a free society.

      However, I don’t hold out much hope. The media and the dumbed down sheep won’t care untill it’s too late. Thats why I prepare for the worst. Again I hope it doesn’t come to that but it may. Like I said, stock up, arm up and be ready. In the mean time, we should do our best to wake up the brain dead masses. That may yet be our salvation, lets hope so anyway.

      Peace!

  • Arturo

    An analysis that I read elsewhere is that Bush and Co. didn’t take action in Afghanistan and Iraq without first getting public opinion on their side. Afghanistan was an easy sell so soon after the September attacks. And we’ve read many times how the administration rolled our their Iraq plan in September 2002 to sway public opinion to their side (courtesy, of course, of the MSM and Fox). As for Iran, there doesn’t yet seem to be the public support for an attack, even if only by air. Petraeus is too busy to mount such a propaganda campaign, and Mullen appears to be reluctant. Bush and Rice have also been less vociferous than before. While Cheney may be eager for an attack, he and his cronies don’t seem to be mounting an effective campaign – yet. My guess: unless they ramp up the rhetoric and can get the media (apart from Fox) to push their agenda, nothing much will happen before Bush leaves office. Unless, of course, they can provoke Iran into doing something provocative.

  • Brad Smith

    “Unless, of course, they can provoke Iran into doing something provocative”. Or blame something (anything) on Iran, or do another false flag operation. It doesn’t take that much to sway public opinion when you have all the major media on your side combined with an already propagandized population.

    Peace!

  • Big M

    I have two questions concerning some of the comments about Dead-Eye Dick. Just where does this guy, or ANY VP, get the authority to be doing one-tenth of the stuff he reportedly does, or plans to do? And where does he get the authority to issue orders about ANYTHING?

  • George [:-)

    When folks are hungry,unemployed,homes lost,savings gone,broken families and the young can’t find jobs,the folks are governmement primed up for war. Notice we blame the Chinese for all our ills?
    The draft is not needed when young men can’t feed themselves,the army opens it’s doors.
    The generals are lying and want Iran to reduce it’s defencies.Suckers!What should worry you all is that lost and still missing B52 nuke.What USi city is it timid to go off-Bang!

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  • Tim R.

    So ok, no war with Iran. I get it. So then just what do you propose we do? Should the civilized world (ie Europe, the United States, Australia, Canada etc.) just sit back and allow the Arab Muslim barbarians to obtain nuclear weapons? We should just sit back and do nothing?

    • Edalat

      Iranians aren’t Arabs Tim, and from where I sit, you’re the barbarian.

      • Lear K

        He knows Iranians not Arabs but it is more scary to use two scapegoats instead of one .They are ‘Ayrabs’ and ‘Moslems’ too.What’s more frightinng than that.

      • Tim R.

        You are right, I forgot about that and I stand corrected: For now on I shall refer to them as Persian Muslim barbarians.

    • X

      If you are so keen on promoting Greater Israel, Tim R., you are welcome to make your allyia (return to Israel), join the Tsahal (IDF), and fulfil your goriest dreams. Just don’t propagandise to send other people’s sons and daughters to commit crimes on your behalf.

    • Lear K

      Which is the only country that used nuclear bombs against not one but two civilian populations centers with no military sigenficance!??Which the actual state in the middle east with nuclear weapons and will use them!??

    • Weston

      “War with Iran” or “Let them get the bomb” is a false dichotomy. War isn’t the only way to stop them, and if you weren’t already gunning for Muslims you’d see just how obvious that is.

      • Tim R.

        I agree. Military action should be our very last resort. First, we ought to use intense diplomatic and economic pressure on them. It worked with Qadafi in Libya. (and by the way Libya is a great success of the Bush administration no one ever gives the President credit for that) Perhaps it can work with Iran too, its worth a try. (and the UN needs to get tough and hit them with some really hard sanctions that have real teeth) But if all else fails, I argue that the civilized world can NOT allow radical Muslims to obtain nuclear weapons. This has nothing to do with Israel. Even if Israel did not exist I would feel the exact same way. Iranians have shahab missiles that can already reach parts of Europe. One nuclear weapon in the hands of a radical Muslim who has a death wish is more dangerous than 10,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of the Russians who are rational actors and do not have suicidal and homocidal desires.

        • Weston

          Okay, but Iran is a ‘civilized’ country with some uncivilized elements (just like the US) and the deteriorating Russian nuclear system is way more of a threat than radical Islam. Of course, the two of them put together are more dangerous than either one individually.

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