Gates on Iran
Former generals and specialists on Iran reacted harshly May 15 to comments by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates who said the United States should adopt more conciliatory policies toward Iran, including unofficial contacts and talks with the regime led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — at a time when U.S. troops are dying in Iraq from Iraniansupplied bombs.
“Tehran’s leaders need to pay the price for their terrorism, not be rewarded,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely. “It is appalling for anyone to suggest that Ahmadinejad regime whose EFPs [explosively formed penetrators] are the number-one killer of American troops in Iraq would be offered concessions.”
Said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney: “I applaud Secretary Gates’ hope that more contacts with nongovernmental Iranians might help our relationship, but unfortunately, 28 years of trying to be reasonable has gotten us nothing.
“Hope is not a strategy and these radical Islamists view our carrot-and-stick approach as weakness,” Gen. McInerney said. “I urge covert action to help the Iranian people take their country back. This will solve most of our problems in the Middle East.”
Alireza Jafarzadeh, author of “The Iran Threat,” and former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance in Iran, said he opposes the stream of concessions offered by the U.S. to Iran since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “As a result, Tehran has emerged as the single most dangerous threat in Iraq today,” he said.
Kenneth Timmerman, an author and specialist on Iran, said: “The only way to get Tehran to stop killing Americans in Iraq, funding Hezbollah, and aiding al Qaeda, is to send a forceful message that the United States will no longer tolerate such behavior.
“That message must be sent with B-2 bombers, preferably on a broad array of leadership targets,” Mr. Timmerman said.
Mr. Gates said in a speech May 14 that he agreed with liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that “we need to figure out a way to develop some leverage with respect to the Iranians and then sit down and talk with them.”
“If there’s going to be a discussion, then they need something, too,” he said of his proposal for contacts with Iranians outside of the government.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Mr. Gates’ views do not differ from those of President Bush, who yesterday in Israel dismissed the idea of making concessions to terrorists and radicals as “appeasement.”