Via Eli Clifton, Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN under George H.W. Bush, warned against a military strike on Iran in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. Here is a clip:
This is essentially the consensus in the U.S. military and intelligence community, as best as I can tell. As Clifton mentions:
Pickering’s comments today closely match the warnings issued by former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan earlier this month. Dagan warned that an Israeli attack on Iran could spark a “regional war” and, at best, could only delay Iran’s nuclear program. That assessment is shared by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Incidentally, this scenario was shown to be almost certain after a classified war simulation held this month forecasted that a “strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States” and kill many, many people. As Ha’aretz reports, this Congressional Research Service report estimates that Iran could completely recover from a strike on its nuclear program within six months.
Beyond Dagan and Panetta, Pickering’s assessment also matches that of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey who has made statements in recent weeks that an attack on Iran would be pointless, dangerous, and unwise. High level officials have been issuing such warnings for months. Hell, retired generals and intelligence officers have taken out full page ads in the Washington Post arguing against war. Former CENTCOM Commander Admiral William J. Fallon and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General General James Cartwright said as much in a CSIS panel a few weeks ago, adding that the talk of attacking Iran essentially amounts to warmongering.
What is still amazing to me is that the pro-war jingoists are ignoring these assessments. Typically, jingoists exalt military leaders and put weight on their practical and strategic judgment. That the War Party, and especially the GOP candidates, are ignoring those judgements is a sign of how off the rails our political landscape is right now.