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Intro: "Several former high-ranking military, intelligence and State Department officials took out an ad in the Washington Post today urging President Obama to stand fast against political and lobbying pressure to attack Iran over claims it is trying to develop nuclear weapons."

President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (photo: AP)
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (photo: AP)

Retired US Generals to Obama: 'No War of Choice in Iran'

By Bryant Jordan,

06 March 12

See Below: General's advertisement from The Washington Post.

everal former high-ranking military, intelligence and State Department officials took out an ad in the Washington Post today urging President Obama to stand fast against political and lobbying pressure to attack Iran over claims it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The letter, signed by five retired generals, two senior intelligence analysts and a senior State Department official, is accompanied by a photo and quotes from other current military and defense officials warning against such an attack.

"There is a national reflex on the conservative part [of the] political spectrum to reach for the military option first and others second," said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, commander of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, when he developed and oversaw the training of the Iraqi military and security forces.

President Obama and others in the administration believe they can stop Iran from pursing a nuclear weapon through economic sanctions.

"We feel the need to give the president and those who endorse this approach as much space as possible to let … the economic efforts guide Iranian behavior," said Eaton, who is a senior advisor with the National Security Network.

The advertisement, which carries the headline "Mr. President: Say No to a War of Choice with Iran," is sponsored by the National Iranian American Council, a non-partisan, non-profit organization headquartered in Washington.

Though NIAC does not support the Iranian government it favors diplomacy over war in dealing with it, according to its website.

"NIAC opposes a U.S.-Iran war because it would be detrimental to U.S. national interest and likely prolong the reign of the current Iranian government," the group states.

Signing the letter with Eaton are retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard Jr., chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; retired Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar, former CentCom commander and now on the board of the Middle East Policy Council; retired Army Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, a retired combat arms officer who taught National Security Strategy and Decision-making at the National Defense University; retired Army Maj. Gen. Rudolph Ostovich III, former vice director of the Joint Staff; Thomas Fingar, former deputy director of National Intelligence for analysis; Paul Pillar, former CIA national intelligence officer for Near East and South Asia; and retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Eaton said the aim of the letter is to rally support from among "validators ... of a rational, pragmatic foreign policy," which is what Obama represents.

"We're sending a message to the President of the United States that we support you're approach, to Congress that we support the President, and to Israel and other validators for a pragmatic foreign policy to say, let's exercise prudence instead of ramping up the war" option.

"Unless we or an ally is attacked, war should be the option of last resort," the writers state in their letter. "Our brave servicemen and women expect you to exhaust all diplomatic and peaceful options before you send them into harm's way."

While the writers back the idea of keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, they say diplomacy is still a possible means of doing that.

"Military action at this stage is not only unnecessary, it is dangerous – for the United States and for Israel," they conclude. "We urge you to resist the pressure of a war of choice with Iran."

The group is up against very strong opposition, however.

Obama has been under pressure from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country, and members of Congress to draw a harder line against Iran. Republican members of both the house and Senate have let Obama know that if he chose to attack Iran he would have their support.

At the same time some Republican candidates for the party's nomination for president have made Iran a campaign issue, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney claiming that if Obama is reelected Iran would get a nuclear bomb, but if he's the next president it will not.

Similarly former Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have charged Obama is soft on Iran and has not been a staunch enough ally of Israel.

Obama, in his remarks before AIPAC on Sunday, ran down a list of times he exercised vocal, political and military support for Israel, from funding the deployment of the Iron Dome rocket intercept system in Israel to defending the country at the United Nations over its military actions in Gaza and Lebanon.

"So there should not be a shred of doubt by now," he told the AIPAC audience. "When the chips are down, I have Israel's back. Which is why if, during this political season, you hear some questions regarding my administration's support for Israel, remember that it's not backed up by the facts."

Obama reiterated his unwavering support for Israel earlier today, just before going into a private meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The United States will always have Israel's back," he said. Obama told reporters before the meeting that he and Netanyahu would talk about regional issues, American and Israeli foreign policy, and how to increase prospects of peace in the Middle East.

He also again made the case that the sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iran are crippling and that the regime will have to come around.

Netanyahu, in a brief statement before going into the meeting, said: "When it comes to Israel's security, Israel has a right, a sovereign right, to make its own decisions." your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+148 # artful 2012-03-06 10:31
Congratulations to the Generals who actually understand what war is, contrary to that moron John McCain. We need to tell Bibi that if he launches a pre-emptive war, he's on his own.
+91 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-03-06 11:20
Yes, indeed, congrats to the Generals. As a retired read admiral friend once told me, you cannot find more dedicated peace advocates than those who have seen and experienced first hand the horrors of war.

No big suprise, the greed and power addicted villainaires and their lobbyist and political minions do not give a rat's ass re. the horrors, death and suffering. They only care about war, war, war that puts more $$$ in their coffers, and makes stronger their total control over all.

Lots and lots we have to do to.....

+95 # Pickwicky 2012-03-06 10:32
President Obama: please take their advice. Let's also take another close look at our policy of not allowing Iran to become a nuclear power. Perhaps, Iran's bomb would neutralize Israel's. The area could become more stable not less stable.
+67 # johnseipp1 2012-03-06 10:34
I'm sure they could have gotten a longer list of generals. Gen. Anthony Zinni and Ge. Batiste and other generals who spoke out against Donal Rumsfeld and G.W. Bush during the Iraq war.
-26 # Valleyboy 2012-03-06 10:54
"The United States will always have Israel's back"

So he's trying to talk "street" now, to prove the US & Israel are the cool kids on the block?!


I think if the world was a schoolyard the US & Israel would have Iran behind the bike sheds, taking turns hold him down while the other broke wind on his face.

And we'd all be too scared to do anything...
+79 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-06 10:56
"Unless we or an ally is attacked, war should be the option of last resort,"

No, dammit! unless we or an ally is attacked, or in imminent danger of that, war is aggressive war, in violation of the UN Charter and US law, and is the supreme war crime!! It is also a moral abomination! This what they hanged the Nazi war criminals for.
+5 # Todd Williams 2012-03-06 14:07
Just a quick question, bluepilgrim. If you had been FDR and we had NOT been attacked by Japan, do you think it would have been okay to attack Germany? I'm not implying anything here, just want your opinion if you're still online.
+9 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-06 19:42
Germany declared war on us.

And yet, from the history I have read, WW2 could have been avoided. FDR goaded Japan with sanctions and knew Japan was going to attack us, although it's not certain what details he knew. The government wanted to get into that war -- but even before then German was set up for war by making conditions there miserable with the WW1 reparations (and the US had something to do with that in insisiting on being paid back for it's contributions to Europe). I'm not up on remembering the details, and haven't been able to research it thoroughly, but this is about what I've seen from some pretty sharp historians -- and it sounds like the same sort of power and money motivations as other wars.

By the time Japan attacked it may have been too late to avoid war, but it could have done before then -- and it's not too late to avoid war with Iran now, but the US and Israel keeps pushing for it, backing Iran into a corner (has been for years).

If I had been FDR I would have worked to bring peace all along. But that isn't what the empire does.
+10 # RMDC 2012-03-07 05:44
The US was supporting China is its war against Japan for several years before Pearl Harbor. They Flying Tigers were US pilots flying US planes, and bombing Japanese targets. The US already entered the war against Japan by about 1938. Also, plans for a war against Japan go back as far as 1905. The US declared itself supreme in the Pacific and Japan had also made the same claim.

Pearl Harbor was not needed to start the war against Japan, but it was needed to change American opinion about entering the war. FDR knew about the plans for Pearl Harbor and he allowed it to go on.
-8 # CandH 2012-03-06 16:44
Yep, there's the window of opportunity: We or an ally has to be attacked. The OpEd is just fancy window dressing to obscure the fact that war is actually imminent, only it is AFTER (or just before, say in October) the "safe" re-election of Obama in November.

Maybe Sanitarium can start saying things like the US is a demon, and women are baby slaves...ooops already done. Exxxxxccccceeee llllennnnnt (one says in the quintessential Simpsons Mr. Burns way.)

Read Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech for the primer kids...
+14 # CandH 2012-03-06 17:07
Further, per Chomsky on another RSN thread: "A prime concern right now is that Israel will seek to provoke some Iranian action that will incite a U.S. attack." Otherwise known as a False Flag, or "window of opportunity."

"The sanctions against Iran may have the same effect as their predecessors against Iraq, which were condemned as "genocidal" by the respected U.N. diplomats who administered them before finally resigning in protest. The Iraq sanctions devastated the population and strengthened Saddam Hussein, probably saving him from the fate of a rogues' gallery of other tyrants supported by the U.S.-U.K. - tyrants who prospered virtually to the day when various internal revolts overthrew them." Anybody with a grain of salt does not say, "let the sanctions have time to work," and expect people to take them or the policy seriously or with any modicum of honesty!

Read Chomsky's article on RSN for a nuanced argument on the subject:
+108 # davidhp 2012-03-06 11:05
I was born during the Korean War, grew up during the Vietnam War, served in the military during Vietnam, Balkans, and Gulf Wars, worked during the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. I would like to have my remaining years be peaceful and not die during a war with Iran. Is that too much to expect.
-2 # Todd Williams 2012-03-06 14:08
No it isn't too much. You did your duty. But aren't you a little old to be called up again?
+10 # ganymede 2012-03-07 17:09
Wow! What an interesting warmongering time we've had especially for people of your generation. It turns out that we, the supposed peace loving citizens of the USA, have been the biggest warmongers in the world for many years now. And to think they're trying to do it again with Iran. A lot of us were out on the street during the build up to the Iraqi disaster. We better get an early start with the insanity that is leading us to what will probably be a bigger disaster in Iran. We are Crazy!
+80 # El_Viejo 2012-03-06 11:25
Not only should Bibi be told he's on his own if he attacks, he should be told all US funding shall be cut off immediately
+24 # Observer 47 2012-03-06 13:38
AMEN, Viejo!!! Exactly!
+73 # lpod 2012-03-06 11:34
I am so proud of you Generals, et al. This is truly amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
+10 # Doubter 2012-03-07 10:12
You are proud.
I'm amazed!

Attacking Iran is such a bad idea that it turns EVEN GENERALS into peace lovers!
+18 # richardspasadena 2012-03-06 11:38
It is great that they placed this ad especially now when the issue is still seemingly open. Let's hope Obama is crazy like a fox. Israel and Iran may be his real audience. Israel because there is a very real danger of their strking Iran. He has to try and hold them back nothting else but a clear statement that he will if they have nuclear weapons. Iran because of that obvious message and also that the US is trying to find a peaceful way out. You have to have a credible threat of force to get someone to take you seriously, now if you actually use it is a different matter.
+39 # dallassmith 2012-03-06 11:41
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor to cripple the US military capability. A Pearl Harbor-style attack on Iran is being promoted by some so-called friends of Israel. They should recall that the ensuing war after the surprise Pearl Harbor attack did not end well for the Japanese. I fear that a years-long war that would result from an Israeli attack on Iran would bode equally ill for Israel.
+54 # Bill Clements 2012-03-06 11:44
Nice for Obama to have these men as a bulwark (weak as it is) against the insane push by Netanyahu, AIPAC, and idiot GOP presidential candidates Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney, not to mention those in Congress who are itching to drop bombs on Iran. Is this not a true measure of insanity to want another war? All our resources, especially given the last four years, should be put into rebuilding the country. Aside from corporate war profiteers (and maybe that's the point!?), who will benefit?

I decry the power AIPAC has in this country to determine policy. I decry the unquestionable allegiance Obama is obligated to show Israel. God forbid we reevaluate our relationship to Israel, including the 3 billion in military aid we send them each year.

I categorically reject and deeply resent Netyanyahu's logic yesterday that Israel is us and we are Israel. If Israel wants a war with Iran, let them do it alone!
+25 # bugbuster 2012-03-06 12:09
Iran wants to be a regional power, and they are doing a pretty good job of it, taking pages out of the USA playbook. (Recall proxy wars in Latin America and elsewhere in what we used to call the "third world.")

Other big and little powers have much more skin in the Iran game than the US. What are we now, bodyguards for Russia, China, Turkey, Iraq, and Israel? Not with my tax dollars, thank you very much. Let them fight their own battles.
+24 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-06 13:20
It is a power and it is in that region -- so it's already a regional power. As for Iraq, recall that the US was meddling in the Iraq/Iran war, even giving weapons to both sides. Iran also shares a border with Afghanistan. Iran has more of a defensive interest in the neighboring countries than the US ever had with exploiting the Monroe Doctrine countries.

Last I looked at a map the US was NOT in that geographic area, and has NO legitimate defensive interest. It's all about imperialistic exploitation and stealing the wealth.
+8 # Todd Williams 2012-03-06 14:16
It's always been about exploitation of the wealth. Don't you think it was the same with all the colonial powers in history going back before Rome. You tell me how it's any different today than say, during the Crusades.
+3 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-06 19:49
It's imperialism and colonialism. During the Crusades the noble's elder sons inherited all the land (so as not to break it up into tiny pieces) so 2nd, 3rd, and later sons had no inheritance -- so they went off East to war to grab land and wealth.

Smedley Butler!!
+6 # Todd Williams 2012-03-06 14:13
Yes, just as we were bodyguards for Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. We pretty much gave up the moral highground when we fought the Barbary Pirates and later, the Spanish-America n War.
+31 # teineitalia 2012-03-06 12:16
"The U.S. military is the most formidable military force on earth. But not every challenge has a military solution." Wise words from men who know what they're talking about.

Please, President Obama, please heed their wisdom. Do it for your daughters. Do it for mine. Endless war should not be our collective legacy.
+30 # Archie1954 2012-03-06 12:19
The President should bell the Republican cat. It is long past time to call attention to the war mongers and what the ultimate results of their demands for war would be. Let's discuss the legal ramifications first, not that such things have ever bothered the US. Laws are for others to follow not America. However attacking a country when it has not attacked you or is not an immediate danger is a war crime in international law. The US would be branded a rogue nation for doing so and is already one for attacking and destroying Iraq. Now what about economic consequences? Well one can already see one of the results of constant calls for war by the Republicans in Congress, the increase in fuel costs! A full blown war would make those costs skyrocket as ingress and egress from the Middle East for oil tankers would cease. The US is already close to bankruptcy so where is the money coming from to conduct yet another war? If you have a job now don't expect to have one after a new war starts. How about scurity? Making more and more enemies is not the normal way you increase security and wars make enemies. The US navy ships in or near the Persian Gulf are sitting ducks and if all hell broke loose would be destroyed with great loss of life, not that such a concern has ever stopped the American government before. The Iranian population of course would be toast as would all of Israel.
+22 # cordleycoit 2012-03-06 12:25
Generals are tending to be more humanistic of recent and that is a good sign, The young men and women who were lured to the Army with promises of education have parents who are worried about the madness infecting the politicians, everyone remembers the lies used for the last couple of energy and resource wars. Our politicians are totally out of hand.
+17 # bugbuster 2012-03-06 13:06
I don't think there has been any change in the character of generals. Generals have always run the same gamut as everybody else. Many feel something akin to a parental responsibility for their troops. They are as human as any of us, and they are the ones who have to order their troops into harm's way. They are not monsters.

Chickenhawk armchair generals who inhabit plush offices on the public dole are more often your monsters.
+11 # cokacoa2 2012-03-06 14:42
Citizens United further complicated the problems that were all ready brewing in our country. The military contractors like Martin-Marietta can use unlimited funds to buy politicians and judges and they do it. As Chomsky pointed out, no matter what else you think of Obama, we are all going to have to hold our noses and vote for him for the sake of restoring balance and justice to our Supreme Court. In addition, we have to regain the House and keep the Senate in order to have a chance to restore democracy to the USA.
+19 # fishmother 2012-03-06 12:45
It's a scary day when the President, who I voted for because he claimed to be on the peace train, is a hawk & a pile of generals the naysayers. I never thought I'd ever call the White House to say that this citizen wants the President to listen to the generals, but, well there you have it!
+24 # Sully747 2012-03-06 12:50
Those who would have us go to war with Iran should first spend a month or two in Iraq… … How’d that work out for ya…?
+25 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-06 13:25
It worked out very well for many of them -- they raked in a fortune.
War is a Racket -- Smedley Butler
+18 # fishmother 2012-03-06 15:18
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
+19 # Nel 2012-03-06 13:34
Good for the generals and others, they are true patriots.
+12 # Capn Canard 2012-03-06 13:41
Well, Generals calling for prudence is a sign to use prudence and good sense. Meanwhile the Right Wingnuts want more war and they seek to make the USA the United States of Zionism.
+6 # frankscott 2012-03-06 15:19
the generals make more sense than the president in the american tradition of lesser evil-ism...left out of this is the arrogant notion that we have something to say about whether or not iran can have a nuclear weapon, while remaining silent about all the nukes in fundamentalist fanatic israeli hands...until we renounce and get rid of nukes, i hope all nations under our rule remove that rule by getting nukes themselves...
+14 # Bodiotoo 2012-03-06 16:20
NO MORE WAR. Natrional Defense is fine, but these wars of aggression with no apparent goals other than "insuring our safety is just nonsense. End the Empire.
+6 # Michael Lee Bugg 2012-03-06 18:22
This is a rehash by the idiot Republicans and their villianaire masters of the 2002 preemptive war against Iraq! They were afraid of losing control of Congress after the 2002 election because of the sinking economy and the federal surpluses they immediately turned into deficits thanks to passing Bush's tax cuts, so they had to change the subject then to "national security"! They then spent 6 more years wrecking the federal budget and the economy, for which their only solution is more Bush style nonsense that most people won't buy so they have to change the subject once again to "preemptive" war to protect US and "God's Chosen People"! They know that this will anger Obama's base and force up oil prices which will anger everyone not working in the oil industry, and they think that will help their electoral prospects! The Republicans and some brainless or spineless Democrats are shameless hypocrites! It's the economy, stupid! Besides, George W. Bush said, in an effort to justify his invasion of Iraq, that every country has the right to defend themselves by whatever means they deem necessary. That is the only thing I ever mostly agreed with him about - I don't agree with the preemptive part. That said, Iran is constantly being threatened by Israel and US, therefore they have the right to protect themselves if they have not attacked anyone first! Besides, our intel people see no evidence of nuclear weapon development.
+5 # Willman 2012-03-06 20:33
Are these repubs the same ones that took President Obama to task for the bombing campaign in Libya?
+6 # RMDC 2012-03-07 05:49
Now the Republicans are saying that the destruction of Libya is a model for Syria and other nations. Apparently, the opposed Obama because there was not enough bombing of Libya. Now they know that Libya was bombed like Dresden in WW II. Now the republicans are happy. They want Iran to look like Dresden. I wish someone would bomb them back into the stone age so they could learn how it feels.
+2 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-07 01:14
The Annual, Ritual Humiliation of US Presidents
By George Galloway

But especially the video there -- also at
"Iran is not a punch bag, says George Galloway, this war must be stopped before it begins"

Galloway spews fire about attacking Iran and the disterous consequences.
+4 # acethelin 2012-03-07 13:16
israel is the tip of the christian spear in the heart of the muslim world.
+4 # Anarchist 23 2012-03-07 23:34
A war in Iran would be the nail in the coffin of what is left of the USA-we have already lost most of what we considered important and even sacred to our national life-like the Bill of Rights etc. Iran would not be an easy country to defeat or invade either as the generals well know. The chicken hawks like the Bourbons learn nothing nor forget anything. I have just toured Viet Nam and Cambodia and seen what war does to people and country; nothing to be proud of. If there is a war, I suppose it will start sometime after the next election, when it is cooler and ObombO has defeated the Rethug clowns-not that he is much better-after NDAA and his drone strikes and imprisonment of Bradley Manning, his failure to close Guantanamo and his caving in to the health insurance industry on health care-I really don't see much difference. Of course the Rethugs will return us to the days of back alley abortions but since there are no clinics in 80% of most counties-women have no access anyway so...Velkommin to Der New World Order-papiers bitte!
+1 # medusa 2012-03-10 00:04
Obama has improved our relations with lots of people and countries that the Bush lads had ridiculed and bullied. I hope very much that he will continue to apply the arts of peace to Iran--a civilization thousands of years old--as to China, for instance.

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