Mullen: We ‘Will Have to Deal with Iran in the Very Near Future’

Mullen: We ‘Will Have to Deal with Iran in the Very Near Future’ Atlantic Council Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a very profound statement at Monday night’s Atlantic Council awards dinner that has received virtually no press notice: That we “will have to deal with Iran in the very near future.”

Here’s the context:

We also live in a time where Iran routinely pushes its way into more and more realms of instability. And I, for one, think it is important that we deal with that instability that they create, whether it is Hezbollah, Hamas. Recent operations in Southern Iraq, recent combat operations in Southern Iraq in Basra highlighted yet again Iran’s activities in ways that very specifically pointed to activities which, in fact, resulted in the deaths of coalition soldiers. And I think for the ability to create stability in that part of the world that not just this alliance, but those who are allied, will have to deal with Iran in the very near future.

You can watch the video here.

Mullen made these remarks late Monday night in his speech accepting the Council’s 2008 Award for Distinguished Military Leadership. Perhaps because there were so many other fine speakers, or because his was the last speech of the night, or because the oxygen was all taken by the next day’s Pennsylvania primary, these remarks weren’t picked up.

Indeed, when I did my quick write-up of this the next day for the Council’s website, I headlined the piece “Mullen: ‘We Will Have to Deal with Iran in the Very Near Future'” — correctly picking out the main point — but frankly not fully grasping its significance. I was only reminded about it because some gentlemen were talking about it before a luncheon I attended today put on by The National Interest at the Nixon Center.

I continue to believe that not only is military action against Iran simply not feasible but, contrary to the conventional wisdom, not part of the Bush administration’s agenda. One would think the world’s top military man doesn’t make a point of bringing up the need for action if trade sanctions or a stern diplomatic communique are all that’s on his mind. Then again, a little strategic ambiguity on these matters can help advance ones goals, especially when the options at hand are all unattractive.

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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. Triumph says:

    And I, for one, think it is important that we deal with that instability that they create, whether it is Hezbollah, Hamas. Recent operations in Southern Iraq, recent combat operations in Southern Iraq in Basra highlighted yet again Iran’s activities in ways that very specifically pointed to activities which, in fact, resulted in the deaths of coalition soldiers. And I think for the ability to create stability in that part of the world that not just this alliance, but those who are allied, will have to deal with Iran in the very near future.

    Iran created the instability in southern Iraq? What’s this guy smoking?

    The only way we can create stability in Iran is to thoroughly destabilize the country. Stability is on the march!

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I guess the previous poster would allow nearly any agressive action be taken against him before he would do anything about it. Never having heard the olde saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Prevention means taking action to prevent something from happening. I wonder how that would apply to Iran. Let us see. Their stated goal is to incinerate Israel and destroy the great satan (USA). How might they accomplish this? Not having a great supply of matches and fuel to spare, they seem to be developing nuclear power, but that is only for peaceful purposes. They believe peace will happen when Israel and the great satan are gone. Idiots like the poster before me think maniacs like the President of Iran can be dealt with, or must believe they can be dissuaded with threats of retaliation. Israel will blow Iran off the map in a nuclear exchange. Shall we wait and see, or do something violent about it now?

  3. Quote of the Day…

    QUOTE OF THE DAY….From Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking to the Atlantic Council Monday night:”Recent combat operations in Southern Iraq in Basra highlighted yet again Iran’s activities in ways that very specifica…

  4. jainphx says:

    It’s very refreshing to hear one of our war fighters speak the truth. Predictably the loony left has, and will explode into frothing masses.

  5. kenny says:

    “Iran routinely pushes its way into more and more realms of instability.”

    yes how dare iran get involved in the country next to them when it’s been reduced to a bloody shambles by the USA.

    No doubt his next argument is how they’ve bought yellowcake from africa……..

    And then how the US military doesn’t torture people.

  6. KJ says:

    Remember the liberal motto.. ‘Never deal with a problem today that you can find a way to raise taxes and manage tomorrow’.

    Elect HRC and we will deserve what we get.

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    Recent operations in Southern Iraq, recent combat operations in Southern Iraq in Basra highlighted yet again Iran’s activities in ways that very specifically pointed to activities which, in fact, resulted in the deaths of coalition soldiers.

    This part of Mullen’s speech is entirely accurate. After all, Iran is a huge supporter of the Maliki administration and his governing coalition.

    Of course, so are we…

  8. Richard Jacobs says:

    While Iran might destabilize areas of the world, the biggest, by far, destabilizing influence in the middle east, is the United States in Iraq.

  9. Anderson says:

    Uh, folks, “deal with” is quite vague, and certainly includes negotiation and, um, “deals.”

    And in that sense, Mullen is not only correct, he’s also saying what the Dems have been saying: we can’t isolate Iran, we can’t refuse to talk to them. They have interests, we have interests. We need to make clear what’s truly unacceptable (nuking Israel) and cut some slack on what’s inevitable (Iranian influence in its Shiite neighbor & onetime enemy).

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    They have interests, we have interests. We need to make clear what’s truly unacceptable (nuking Israel) and cut some slack on what’s inevitable (Iranian influence in its Shiite neighbor & onetime enemy).

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Anderson. It’s what I’ve been saying for years.

    Stability is not an absolute good; it’s a conditional good. That’s one of the things that was forcibly impressed on us seven years ago. The stability then was unacceptable to us.

    Now we’re stuck with the instability we helped create. Our creating instability isn’t anything new—we’ve been doing it for more than 60 years. After all, Germany’s control of France and the Netherlands was pretty darned stable until we stuck our noses into things.

    Like it or not Iran is the regional superpower in the Middle East. We should be dealing with them and by “dealing” I mean negotiating. As I see it there are two big challenges. The first item on the agenda should be mutual acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the other’s interests in the region. It’s pretty darned hard to construct a basis for negotations without it.

    The second is that either we need to convince Iran that our notion off a good sort of stability for the region and theirs are not incompatible or else we’ve got to identify the nexus of issues on which stability is mutually agreed as a good thing.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW the influence between Iran and Iraq goes both ways and right now Iraq is probably as dangerous to Iran as it is to us. More so, maybe.

  12. Anderson says:

    Ah, see Kevin Drum:

    Mullen said the U.S. government will not take any option off the table in responding to the Iranian threat. But speaking to reporters today, Mullen repeatedly made clear that he preferred dealing with the problem through diplomatic or financial pressure rather than a military strike.

    Why does Adm. Mullen hate America?

  13. mike says:

    Zelsdorf – good call – let’s deal with this issue like we did w/ Iraq – b/c that worked out so well. You probably still think Iraq was connected to 9/11.

  14. Bithead says:

    If you read closely, you may notice that what Mullen is suggesting… correctly, I may add… is that iraq’s involvement is the reason we’ve still got problems in Iraq.

  15. […] backed up by force, or that at the very least putting a little fright into the Iranian leadership (maintaining strategic ambiguity) is unambiguously a good idea.  Well, it doesn’t and it […]

  16. […] backed up by force, or that at the very least putting a little fright into the Iranian leadership (maintaining strategic ambiguity) is unambiguously a good idea.  Well, it doesn’t and it […]

  17. […] backed up by force, or that at the very least putting a little fright into the Iranian leadership (maintaining strategic ambiguity) is unambiguously a good idea. Well, it doesn’t and it […]

  18. Dave says:

    And exactly who destabilized Iraq? – we did.
    And who destabilized southern Lebanon by bombing sewage plants, electrification plants and people? – Israel did(with our bombs and planes).

    We have an out of control,violent government that wraps itself in the flag in an attempt to obscure the wrongdoing that’s being done.

    It really has become disturbing to watch these compromised,idiotic paid off stooges for Israel wreck this nation and others.

  19. Dan says:

    Nice responses. They all feed the beast to some degree, however. Is Ron Paul the only candidate that recognizes the fact that MODERN war is impossible without the tool of deficit financing and the supporting “money from nothing” role, that of the infamous USD ?

    The answers are simpler than many think. Strike the root.