Pentagon Officials on Consequences of Bombing Iran

To briefly follow up on Matt Duss’s post about how Joe Lieberman’s hawkish take on Iran is at odds with most of the thought coming out of the Pentagon (which we covered already), the National Security Network (NSN) has lined up and linked to several statements by Pentagon figures — both in uniform and civilian (and Nick Burns, formerly of State) — about how attacking Iran is not such a good idea.

You can read the whole post for yourself, but here’s NSN’s list:

Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I worry, on the other hand, about striking Iran. I’ve been very public about that because of the unintended consequences of that…” [Admiral Michael Mullen, 4/18/10]

General David Petraeus, former CENTCOM commander: Warning that the military option risks unleashing a popular backlash that would play into the hands of the regime.  “There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment,” said Petraeus. “So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike),”  [David Petraeus, 2/3/10]

General Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander: “The problem with the strike is thinking through the consequences of Iranian reaction…You can see all these reactions that are problematic in so many ways. Economic impact, national security impact — it will drag us into a conflict.  I think anybody that believes that it would be a clean strike and it would be over and there would be no reaction is foolish.” [Anthony Zinni, 8/04/09]

Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former Bush administration Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs: “Air strikes would undoubtedly lead Iran to hit back asymmetrically against us in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider region, especially through its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. This reminds us of Churchill’s maxim that, once a war starts, it is impossible to know how it will end.” [Nicholas Burns, 5/06/09]

Colin Kahl, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East: In an interview with Think Progress, Kahl warned that even though any military strike could delay Iran’s nuclear program, it could also ‘incentivize the Iranians to go all the way to weaponize.’ [Colin Kahl, via Think Progress, 10/1/09]

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.