Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Top US commander: Iran sanctions not working
That's what General James Mattis, the outgoing commander of America's Central Command (CENtCOM) told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
General Mattis said it still may be possible to use sanctions and other pressure to bring Tehran "to its senses." But he also stated that he believes Iran is using the ongoing negotiations as a ploy to buy time.
"That should not be in any way construed as we should not try to negotiate. I still support the direction we're taking," Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I'm just — I'm paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly."
Mattis at one point was asked point blank by Republican Senator James Inhofe whether he thought diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions were working to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"No sir," he said.
General Mattis said the U.S. military has the ability to bring defeat Iran.
"There are a number of means to do that," he said, "perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that's one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president."
"If the president orders [us] into action, I have what it takes to make it the enemy's longest day and their worst day. And we'll get the other carrier out there quickly to reinforce."
General Mattis also stated the obvious...that if Iran is allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, other nations in the region are going to do likewise.
"At least one other nation has told me they would do that. At a leadership level, they have assured [me] they would not stay without a nuclear weapon" if Iran had one, he said, without naming the country.
Mattis wouldn't identify the country, but answered yes after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked if it was a "Sunni Arab state." I'd guess it was the Saudis. Mattis said that in his opinion, Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would be the "most destabilizing event that we could imagine for the Middle East."
General Mattis also discussed Syria. In contrast to the Obama Administration, he said that he felt the situation was too murky and complex at this point for the U.S. to support arming the Sunni insurgents battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Mattis said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is “both on the ground [in Syria] and are bringing in foreign fighters”, something you already know if you read this site. Hezbollah has fighter there too.
And Mattis is also correct about arming the rebels, mostly hard core Islamists, some with ties to al-Qaeda, another little factoid I've discussed previously. "We don't want to inadvertently, with the best of intentions, arm people who are basically sworn enemies," he said.
Smart man, this general. And he brought up another scenario I hadn't considered. If Assad is taken out, Iran could mount a backlash that could keep Syria in chaos for years by doing just what it did in Lebanon and Iraq...arming and training terrorist militias. After all, Hezbollah is already onsite.
Apparently General Mattis is also a little too savvy for the Obama Administration. Scuttlebutt has it that this highly decorated Marine with literally years of combat command experience is being forced out of command of CENTCOM and into early retirement at age 63 because he's too hawkish on Iran and too critical of Islamists for the Obama Administration's taste.
Pity. We could use the sort of warrior who popularized the slogan "no better friend, no worse enemy" for his command back when he ran the Marine 1st division in Iraq.