JCS Chairman Pace Cautious on Iranian Goverment Links

Much is being made in some quarters about the apparent contradiction between the statements of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff and various administration officials on the Iranian-made weapons flowing into Iraq.

This MSNBC report is an excellent example: U.S. general: No evidence Iran is arming Iraqis

A top U.S. general said Tuesday there was no evidence the Iranian government was supplying Iraqi insurgents with highly lethal roadside bombs, apparently contradicting claims by other U.S. military and administration officials. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran. “That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this,” Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. “What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers.”

His remarks might raise questions on the credibility of the claims of high-level Iranian involvement, especially following the faulty U.S. intelligence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Three senior military officials in Baghdad said Sunday that the highest levels of Iranian government were responsible for arming Shiite militants in Iraq with the bombs, blamed for the deaths of more than 170 U.S. troops. Asked Monday directly if the White House was confident that the weaponry is coming on the approval of the Iranian government, spokesman Tony Snow said, “Yes.”

To recap, these facts are on the table:

  • Iranian made weapons are being used to kill American soldiers.
  • Iran is an authoritarian state that discourages individual initiative.
  • Chaos in Iraq is likely in the interest of the Iranian regime.
  • American soldiers getting killed Having the United States fail in Iraq is decidedly in the interest of the Iranian regime.

Pace thinks they do “not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved.” Snow is “confident” that it is being done “on the approval of the Iranian government.”

There’s not much light between those positions.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Chaos in Iraq is likely in the interest of the Iranian regime.

    I don’t think that chaos, per se, is something that the Iranians want right on their border. Especially with the quiet civil war being waged between the Afghan government and the resurgent Taliban on their other border.

    What is in Iran’s interest is an Iranian-friendly, U.S. hostile (or neutral) Shia dominated government in Iraq. And it looks like things are heading that way. Why would they interfere?

    American soldiers getting killed in Iraq is decidedly in the interest of the Iranian regime.

    I’m not sure I follow this one, either, James. If American soldiers die, and Iran can definitively be blamed, the chances of U.S. raids against Iran become more likely. How is that in their interest?

  2. James Joyner says:

    If American soldiers die, and Iran can definitively be blamed, the chances of U.S. raids against Iran become more likely. How is that in their interest?

    That wouldn’t be. On the other hand, they’re more than happy to see the Americans look weak in Middle East affairs. Perhaps the bullet would have been better phrased: “Having the United States fail in Iraq is decidedly in the interest of the Iranian regime.”

  3. cian says:

    James,

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight- Shite militias with close ties to the Iraqi government are getting weapons from Iran and using them to kill American troops. Meanwhile, Iraqi government spokespeople are busy telling anyone who will listen that intelligence gathered on this by the Americans is exaggerated. Iran is an enemy of America but a friend to the Iraqi Shites who control the government which America supports.

    And bombing Iran will solve this problem how exactly?

  4. M1EK says:

    “Iran is an authoritarian state that discourages individual initiative.”

    So is Iraq. So is Saudi Arabia. Big whoop. Still doesn’t mean that private individuals don’t try to make a go of it in business in any of the three.

    You guys are awfully willing to believe these guys after they lied to us all in the run-up to Iraq. When are you going to try to take back your party, anyways?

  5. spencer says:

    Isn’t this type of analysis and conclusions exactly what got us into this mess to start with?

  6. Triumph says:

    To recap, these facts are ALSO on the table:

    – Russian-made weapons are being used to kill American soldiers

    – Russia is an authoritarian state that discourages individual initiative

    – Chaos in Iraq is likely in the interest of the Russian regime

    – Having the US fail is decidedly in the interest of the Russian regime

    Let us not forget these facts, as well:

    – Traders from the European Union are smuggling weapons into Iraq that are being used to kill American soldiers

    – The European Union contains countries that discourage individual initiative

    – Chaos in Iraq is likely in the interest of some EU countries.

    – Having the US fail in Iraq is decidedly in the interest of the EU.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Triumph,

    I would say that we’re in a de facto state of war with Iran and not with Russia, let alone the EU. As stated previously, invasion strikes me as a non-starter and the UN and other diplomatic routes have been taken as jokes. That means we have to consider other options. I don’t think this one is it, either, but it’s not so outrageous as to dismiss out of hand.

  8. Cernig says:

    James,

    I would say that we’re in a de facto state of war with Iran and not with Russia.

    How about Pakistan?

    Every intelligence assessment says Pakistan’s ISI is aiding both the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, is supporting terrorist groups in India, and may even be hiding both Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar. The Taliban and AQ are definitely killing US soldiers.

    Could the ISI be acting as a rogue agency within the Pakistani government? Logic says it could – at least as much as the Quods arm of the Iranian revolutionary guards could be acting outwith Iranian government sanction in Iran, anyway.

    However, both are official parts of their governments and, according to Tony Snow today, the White House expects Iran to bear “official responsibility and accountability as we would expect of any sovereign government.”

    And if you’d like to talk nuclear proliferation, Pakistan literally wrote the catalogue.

    But Pakistan gets billions in military aid and political support instead of the pressure Iran gets. Why the double standard?

    Regards, C

  9. anjin-san says:

    Cernig,

    The answer is simple. The administration wants war with Iran, just as they wanted war with Iraq. Why? Wish to hell I knew. I do know that the war cheerleaders here at home are not the guys who are getting their asses shot off over there.

    Certainly during the Vietnam war, The Soviet Union and China supplied North Vietnam and the Viet Cong with arms and other support that killed large numbers of our troops. Did we go to war with Russia & China? We did not. So is supplying arms that kill US troops a tripwire that gets you attacked by The US? Of course not.

    The old bromide is, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The question then is, are we going to get fooled again?

  10. bains says:

    The administration wants war with Iran, just as they wanted war with Iraq. Why? Wish to hell I knew.

    In court, one of the things prosecutors nearly always have to posit, is motive. Further, to be convincing, that motive has to be plausible.

    …yeah, I wish to hell I knew why Hillary had Vince Foster killed too.

  11. anjin-san says:

    bains…

    Ok how is this for a motive? Iraq sits atop a 300 billion barrel ocean of oil…

    Oh, no, its about WMD…. no wait, there are no WMD.

    OK, it because we despise repressive regimes and must free those who live under them. But of course, we have no trouble doing business with the repressive regime in China…

  12. anjin-san says:

    Bains,

    For that matter, do you hold Bush to the standard that he has to prove a plausible motive for Iran to get involved in Iraq?

    Bush has been so utterly, spectacularly, horribly wrong about everything in Iraq, why would you trust him in ANYTHING he might have to say about Iran?

  13. b says:

    Ok how is this for a motive? Iraq sits atop a 300 billion barrel ocean of oil…

    Stunning… Bush’s motive was oil, and yet after 5 years of being in country, precisely how many of those barrels has Bush usurped and profited from?

    do you hold Bush to the standard that he has to prove a plausible motive for Iran to get involved in Iraq?

    If you chose not to see a motive for Iran, nay, for the dictators of Iran, to become antagonistic towards US aims in Iraq, further discourse is pointless.

  14. anjin-san says:

    b,

    Why is it a surprise that bush has not usurped and profited from Iraq’s oil? He is just as frigging incompetent at that as he had been with everything else. Does not mean intent is lacking, just ability…

  15. Rick DeMent says:

    In isolation you can easily gin up reasons for a aaction against Iran, but the problem is if you compare Iran to any other Middle East hell hole country they are simply one of many likely targets that would probably include Pakistan and Syria. What is interesting is that Iran has oil, those other two countries do not.

    Stunning… Bush’s motive was oil, and yet after 5 years of being in country, precisely how many of those barrels has Bush usurped and profited from?

    First of all the idea was never to usurped and profit, simply keep it flowing to the US, second the fact that Bush even fails at this goal is further evidence of incompetence not in any way a refutation of the idea. Third it’s not like US companies haven’t profited from the action in Iraq.

  16. bains says:

    As I said, the narrative you would have us believe has to be plausible… to those outside the choir.

  17. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Once again the idiots on the left, anjin, howl like banshees in pain. If Bush had been after the oil he would have deposed Saddam and installed a friendly dictator. Not conduct a PC war and hold elections to democratize Iraq. I wonder if the left’s memory is as short as other parts of their anatomy. It was the policy of the Clinton administation to removed Saddam from power. Seems they believed he was in cahoots with Al Qaeda, ergo the missle attack on the aspirin factory in the Sudan. Bush just carried out this policy. If you think Bush lied us into this war, you are forgetting Saddam violated 17 UN resolutions including the 1991 ceasefire, futher, you need to review what was said by a majority of Senate Democrats concerning WMD and Saddam prior to the invasion. Last. If you do not believe Saddam possessed poison gas and other WMD immediately prior to the invasion. Two questions. What happened to all the precursers we know he purchased and possessed? Why did Saddam purchase over a million doses of Atropine? Come on Anjin, these are easy.