Flynn Has It In For Iran
By Jim Lobe (source:
Photo of Michael T. Flynn by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
On the news that Donald Trump has asked Lt.
Gen. Michael Flynn to be his
national security adviser, I decided to look up Flynn's
testimony on Iran before the
House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services subcommittee on the Middle East and
North Africa on June 10, 2015. That was just a month beforethe P5+1 and Iran
concluded the the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action (JCPOA). What I found was pretty shocking and deserves wide
dissemination. I knew that Flynn was pretty much of an Islamophobe, but I didn't
know to what extent he appears also to be an Iranophobe as well. The testimony
is 16 pages long, so I will confine this post to selected excerpts. But one
really has to read the whole thing to get the full flavor of this man's state of
mind on the subject.
- After listing five developments in the region, beginning with the "negative
behavior and expanding influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran," he wrote:
Not only do these impact our security at home, but they also impact our
allies and friends in the region, most important, the State of Israel-Israel
lives under the threat of total annihilation from Iran and other Islamic
radical elements in the region-something the United States must never allow,
nor should we deal equally with those who spew this type of hatred and
bigotry (we would not stand for it here in this country and we should not
stand for it elsewhere in the world where our closest friends are at risk).
- "Ideas about other ways of waging war are ignored because they do not fit
the closed Second Generation paradigm. Meanwhile, Washington cannot consider
alternatives to our current foreign policy or grand strategy because anyone
who proposes one is immediately exiled from the establishment."
- "2. Iran has every intention to build a nuclear weapon. They have stated it
many times, they have attempted well over a decade to move rapidly to
nuclearizing its capability, and their enrichment to twenty percent and
their rapid move to develop a ballistic missile program, are examples of
their continued preparedness to weaponize a missile for nuclear delivery."
- "Iran's stated desire to destroy Israel is very real. Iran has not once (not
once) contributed to the greater good of the security of the region. Nor has
Iran contributed to the protection of security for the people of the region.
Instead, and for decades, they have contributed to the severe insecurity and
instability of the region, especially the sub-region of the Levant
surrounding Israel (i.e, Southern Lebanon, Gaza, and the Border region along
the Golan Heights on the Syrian side of the border)."
- "9. It is clear that the nuclear deal is not a permanent fix but merely a
placeholder. The ten year timeframe only makes sense if the Administration
truly believes that it is possible for a wider reconciliation with Iran that
is likely to occur, which will make the Iranian regime change its' strategic
course. That's wishful thinking."
- "12. I believe that Iran represents a clear and present danger to the
region, and eventually to the world-they are still a U.S. State Department
designated Islamic state sponsor of terrorism, they have and they continue
to violate international sanctions, and they continue to spew hatred in
their rhetoric coming from senior members of their government-to include
their top Mullahs."
- "15. What we don't know is the full scope of Iran's nuclear effort itself.
The intelligence community does not have complete "eyes on" the totality of
the Iranian nuclear program, nor can it guarantee that we have identified
all of Iran's nuclear facilities and processes. Moreover, given the history
of the nuclear age, it is prudent to conclude that there are elements of
Iran's nuclear program that still remain hidden from view (Iran has
demonstrated in their own actions, they cannot be trusted)."
- "17. I believe that Iran's overarching strategic goals of enhancing its
security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue
capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build
missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so. We do not know
whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons." [Editor's
note: Contrast this last sentence with the opening sentence in 2. above.]
- "As the Washington Post editorialists have said, regime change in Tehran is
the best way to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The same applies
to their missile arsenal, which is of high quality and growing."
- "Just look at the cooperation with North Korea, China and Russia. Connect
those dots, and you get the outline of a global alliance aimed at the U.S.,
our friends, and our allies."
- "The North Korean cooperation is also very significant, as the two countries
(North Korea and Iran) have long traded expertise, not least regarding
nuclear and possibly EMP weapons."\
- "There are a number of things that the international community can do
however, to level the playing field with Iran and further reduce the chances
of its violating its Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty obligations.
- "Immediately direct Iran to open up all of its facilities, scientific,
military, and current nuclear facilities, for international inspections."
- "The U.S. must take a more active role in the region for what will be a race
for "nuclearization" preferring energy development over weaponization."
- "Provide greater authorities to all elements of U.S. National power to
defeat the Islamic radicals we now call the Islamic State-put them out of
- "Immediately recognize, fully support, help organize, and assist those
regional partners create an "Arab NATO-like" structure and framework. Build
an Arab Army that is able to secure their regional responsibilities."
- "Clearly define and recognize that we face a very radicalized enemy in the
likes of Islamic extremism. The administration's refusal to state what we
can plainly see is beyond being irresponsible and ranges on being dangerous
for the long-term security of the United States. Seek and appoint leaders
(regionally, internationally or right here at home), give them the right and
appropriate authorities that can actually accomplish the strategic
objectives we seek."
- "We should expect a far more aggressive Iran as it relates to the Gulf (both
overtly and covertly) and one that will remain militarily engaged in the
Levant for the foreseeable future even if Assad is overthrown. To the extent
that Iranian support to the Huthis is regarded as successful we should
expect to see it emulated in Bahrain [!-Editor's
note] and possibly
eastern Saudi Arabia."
- "What does a more proliferated region mean for US security? Pretty much,
what Prime Minister Netanyahu predicted to Congress, which was we would see
the end of the Non Proliferation Treaty for all intents and purposes. The
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the nations of Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan,
Qatar, and Turkey will all attempt their own missile and nuclear programs
with varying degrees of success and competence, and the best-case scenario
is that we have our current relationship with Pakistan duplicated five fold
in a region where we have seen a significant government turnover from at
least 2011 to present."
- "And as I stated above, we, the United States of America must comprehend
that evil doesn't recognize diplomacy and nations such as Iran will still
maintain the intent of achieving nuclear weapon status."
- "What does this mean for Israel? The worst-case scenario is a reversion to a
pre-Yom Kippur War security environment, except with less restraint. While
the sectarian angle may limit impact against Israel in the near-term, they
are likely to be targeted by jihadists of either flavor (Sunni or Shia) and
any Egyptian WMD efforts have to be of serious concern because the
government has changed three times since 2011 and it won't be clear who is
going to be on top the next time it occurs (my strongest recommendation is
for the U.S. to pick President Al-Sisi as a partner and get on with
assisting him fight the Islamic radicals trying to take over Egypt)."
- "It's difficult to overestimate the risks manifest in an Iran armed with
ballistic and / or nuclear weapons. Certainly the ambitions of those who
have advocated for this capability for 30 years would be vindicated. That
many of the same harbor genuine beliefs which include the responsibility of
the faithful to prepare for a return of the Imamate and the end of times,
often seen as concurrent with "exporting the revolution" (or the reason for
being of the IRGC-QF), all of which should provide us little comfort."
- "The most dramatic impact would be the virtual elimination of coercion and
persuasion; in nuclear deterrence there remains only warfare by proxy and
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)."
- "Beyond the unbridled use of a full spectrum of surrogate forces, they would
have an inordinate and immediate ability to incur deep and sustained
economic costs that would alter global alliances with China as penultimate
consumer, and Europe as fractured addict. The ripple effects of such control
would be felt well before they were exercised, and reshape the balance of
power. Confident without repercussions and satisfied behind a nuclear
inventory, Iran would flex its newly acquired regional hegemony to extend
the buffer well beyond its Arab neighbors and in the process neutralize
internal opposition (i.e., Kurds, Ahvazis, Azeris, Baluchs) without regard
to international opinion."
- "Sunni Arab opposition would be reflexive and likely result in an increased
reliance on Russia for assistance (perhaps the real winner in the global
shift in power as ally to both Iran and the only port for a listing Arab
world desperately seeking military assistance). The conflict would expand,
but it's worth noting that we can expect a host of pernicious and unintended
consequences as Arab states fund and support any and all opposition to Iran
including but not limited to, ISIS and AQ and its Associated Movements
(AQAM-yes, these latter groups still exist)."
Again, these are just excerpts and relatively coherent ones at that (at least
compared to other parts of the testimony). To get the full sense of his
thinking-if one can call it that-one really has to read the whole thing.
Now, it's possible that he has since changed his views. After more than a full
year of the JCPOA's actual implementation, he sees that the agreement has
effectively constrained what he thought was Iran's nuclear weapons program so
that the horrible scenarios he saw in 2015 may not be appear so realistic to
him. But I wouldn't count on it.
About the Author:
Jim Lobe is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy, particularly the neoconservative influence in the Bush administration. The Washington Bureau Chief of the international news agency Inter Press Service (IPS), Lobe has written for various outlets and was featured in BBC and ABC television documentaries about motivations for the US invasion of Iraq. Read his complete biography.
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