Retired Diplomats and Military Officers Warn That Iran Strike Could Lead To Wider War

Sept. 13, 2012 (LPAC)–A very institutional grouping of 35 former
U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence officials warned
today that U.S. military strikes on Iran could set back Iran’s
nuclear program by about four years, but that the Iranians
probably would manage to retaliate, directly and through
surrogates, in ways that risked igniting all-out war in the
Middle East.
The report, issued by the “Iran Project,” was presented
today by a panel discussion at the Wilson Center, featuring
veteran U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Dr. James Walsh from
MIT (a close collaborator with Pickering on Iran back-channel
discussions), and Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, formerly the deputy
commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Their starting
point is that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has
determined that the Iranians have not made the decision to
develop a nuclear weapon, and that therefore, there is no need
for a rush to judgment. They also pointed to the well-known
“unintended consequences” of military action, i.e., increasing
fragility in the region, loss of the international coalition now
pushing for sanctions, greater regional and globality
instability, and a rallying of the Iranian populace around the
regime.
In order to achieve regime change, the report says, “the
occupation of Iran would require a commitment of resources and
personnel greater than what the U.S. has expended over the past
10 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.” Warning of a
wider war, the report also states: “A dynamic of escalation,
action, and counteraction could produce serious unintended
consequences that would significantly increase all of these costs
and lead, potentially, to all-out regional war.”
Former Ambassador William Luers, in introducing the panel,
said the Iran Project began about ten years ago, in order to
pursue back-channel discussions between the U.S. and Iran. (Their
best-known action was a 2008 proposal for an international
enrichment facility to be operated on Iranian soil.) Luers said
that those involved are “people who care for their country, care
about our national security, and who don’t want us to blow it.”
He said the major new dimension has been bringing in additional
people, especially retired military officers, who “are concerned
about the consequences of not thinking through what might happen
if we were to use military force.”
Signatories to the report also include: former Central
Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Paul Pillar, and former U.S.
Central Command commanders Anthony Zinni and William Fallon.
Others included Chuck Hagel, Sam Nunn, Lee Hamilton, Richard
Armitage, Brent Scowcroft, Leslie Gelb, Anne-Marie Slaughter,
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Joe Sestak, Lawrence Wilkerson, and Paul
Volcker.
After the initial presentations, the first question was
asked by Matt Ogden of EIR, who praised their efforts, and then
pointed to Rep. Walter Jones’s HCR 107, which, Ogden said, states
that if the President launches a new war without Congressional
authorization, he will be impeached. Ogden also asked about Gen.
Dempsey’s warnings in London about Syria, and pointed to the
likelihood that any military intervention would put us into a
confrontation with Russia and China.
Walsh punted on the war powers issue, saying that was
something that Congress and the White House had to work out. Gen.
Kearney praised Dempsey as “very well informed,” implying that
his warnings should be taken very seriously. Neither wanted to
discuss Syria, noting that their report was limited to the Iran
situation.

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