As rumors continue circulating around Washington D.C. about a secret Dick Cheney plan to attack Iran, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. officials should consider the damage that could result from initiating a new war in the Middle East. H also added that military options could not be taken off the table. He specifically noted it was ‘a last option.” Mullen believes the focus now should be on “bringing together the international community that is constructive, not destructive.” he also commented on a lesson he had learned from fighting in Iraq– there is need to have agencies like USAID receive funding that is larger.
The choice of words by Admiral Mullen is instructive. He uses expressions like “last option” and urges “bringing together the international community” in dealing with Iran. Ironically, the Bush administration is following the opposite path of ignoring the international community and considering air strikes as a first option. One can only hypothesize from his words there is not overwhelming support among American military leaders about attacking Iran. They understand such action would place unbearable strains on existing forces and raise renewed demands for a drafty system. Hopefully, unlike in Iraq when Bush and Rumsfeld ignored the advice of General Shinseki who wanted more troops in Iraq, this time Bush will listen carefully to the advice of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.