U.S. CENTCOM Commanders Conspicuously Refrain From Taking Sides in Iran Deal Debate
Former commanders of U.S. Central Command, responsible for a 27-country region that includes Iran, have avoided making definitive statements on the nuclear deal signed between negotiators from Tehran and world powers, the Military Times reported on Sunday.
Former CENTCOM commander, Adm. William Fallon, dismissed both ardent supporters and opponents of the deal, calling such polarized opinions “a bunch of nonsense.”
“I would debunk the idea that the deal is it — and you either like it or you hate it, or it’s good or it’s bad,” he said.
Retired Gen. David Patraeus took a similarly nuanced, or non-decisive, stance, saying he recognized “significant benefits in rolling back the Iranian nuclear program for a 10-to 15-year period,” but also noted that unfrozen Iranian assets are likely to be funneled in part to Iranian proxies in the region.
While the White House recently released a letter of support from three dozen retired generals and admirals all throwing their weight behind the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, including Gen. James Cartwright, who oversaw the Pentagon’s nuclear force as head of U.S. Strategic Command, as well as another former CENTCOM commander, Gen. Joseph Hoar, the report noted that many notable names were missing from the list, including Obama’s own national security adviser during his first term, Gen. James Jones, when the U.S. and Iran apparently began making overtures to the Iranians.
“In fact, none of the CENTCOM chiefs or Joint Staff chairmen from the past 20 years signed the letter,” according to the Military Times, though CENTCOM was organized largely to protect American interests in the Gulf region.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee meanwhile released its own list of former top military brass who have authored pieces questioning the nuclear deal.
“A regime that can’t be trusted with the lives of its own people can’t be trusted with a weak nuclear deal. The deadly consequences of such an agreement will not come 10 years from now when Iran has the acknowledged ability to launch a nuclear weapon; they will come as soon as the current regime is granted legitimacy on the international stage and gains economic or political leverage over democratic nations, which will happen as soon as their coffers are filled with unfrozen assets and the oil flows unfettered,” wrote Gen. (ret.) Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001), in an op-ed for the Miami Herald, published in August.
“There are so many things that Iran has been gifted right now with this unbelievable deal. I mean, it’s far more than just nuclear issues. I mean, it goes into everything that Iran is going to be capable of doing. And I’m going to tell you. When they receive this $150 billion check essentially I am really concerned about what kind of behavior they are going to continue to display,” said Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (2012-2014), in an interview with Fox News on July 15, just a day after the deal was announced.