General John Abizaid, who headed Central Command for nearly four years, has today told a conference that he believes a nuclear armed Iran isn't inevitable but even so the U.S. could effectively deter Iran and live with it as a nuclear power if needed - without launching any war or even a blitz attack.
``Iran is not a suicide nation,'' he said. ``I mean, they may have some people in charge that don't appear to be rational, but I doubt that the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon.''All of which seems self-evident to me - but you can bet the wingnuts and the Cheney faction at the White House won't be pleased. Expect another round of Abizaid-smearing shortly, probably based upon how much more of a shining messiah Petreaus is.
The Iranians are aware, he said, that the United States has a far superior military capability.
``I believe that we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear,'' he said, referring to the theory that Iran would not risk a catastrophic retaliatory strike by using a nuclear weapon against the United States.
``There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran,'' Abizaid said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. ``Let's face it, we lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we've lived with a nuclear China, and we're living with (other) nuclear powers as well.''
...Abizaid stressed the dangers of allowing more and more nations to build a nuclear arsenal. And while he said it is likely that Iran will make a technological breakthrough to obtain a nuclear bomb, ``it's not inevitable.''
...He suggested that many in Iran - perhaps even some in the Tehran government - are open to cooperating with the West. The thrust of his remarks was a call for patience in dealing with Iran, which President Bush early in his first term labeled one of the ``axis of evil'' nations, along with North Korea and Iraq.
He said there is a basis for hope that Iran, over time, will move away from its current anti-Western stance.
Abizaid's comments appeared to represent a more accommodating and hopeful stance toward Iran than prevails in the White House, which speaks frequently of the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions. The administration says it seeks a diplomatic solution to complaints about Iran's alleged support for terrorism and its nuclear program, amid persistent rumors of preparations for a U.S. military strike.
Abizaid expressed confidence that the United States and the world community can manage the Iran problem.
``I believe the United States, with our great military power, can contain Iran - that the United States can deliver clear messages to the Iranians that makes it clear to them that while they may develop one or two nuclear weapons they'll never be able to compete with us in our true military might and power,'' he said.
But...cue the speculation that Abizaid is willingly being used by senior still-serving military types to send a not-so-subtle message to the White House. It would certainly make sense, given past reports of disquiet in non-Petreaic military circles.