Military Leaders Tell Nero: "No War of Choice With Iran"
March 6, 2012 • 9:06AM

In a full-page ad in today's Washington Post, leading former military officers told Obama that "Military action at this time is not only unnecessary, it is dangerous—for the United States and for Israel. We urge you to resist the pressure for a war of choice with Iran."

The ad on page A9 is headlined "Mr. President: Say No to a War of Choice with Iran." Sponsored by the National Iranian American Council, it is dominated by a close-up photograph of the faces of Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama, with a somber expression, is focused on the Israeli as the prime minister lectures him.

Superimposed over the photograph are quotes from current and former military officers and Secretaries of Defense, all warning of the deadly folly of allowing a war with Iran:

"It is not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran.... I think that it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us.... A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn't achieve [Israel's] long-term objectives." —Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

"...the United States would obviously be blamed, and we would possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases. ...I think that the consequence could be that we would have an escalation that would take place that would not only involve many lives, but I think could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret." —Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

"A military solution, as far as I am concerned, ... would bring together a divided nation. It would make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons. And they will just go deeper and more covert. The only long-term solution in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide that it is not in their interest. Everything else is a short-term solution." —Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

"Whatever happens, if another preemptive attack by the West, the U.S. and Israel, they fire up the streets, and now we got problems. Just tell me how to deal with all that, okay? ... Because, eventually, if you follow this all the way down, eventually I'm putting boots on the ground somewhere. And like I tell my friends, if you like Iraq and Afghanistan, you'll love Iran." —former CENTCOM Commander Gen. Anthony Zinni (ret.).

"No strike, however effective, will be in and of itself decisive. ... We haven't had a contact with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had contacts with the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran so we don't understand each other. If something happens it's virtually assured that we won't get it right—that there will be miscalculations—which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world." —former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen (ret.).

Below the superimposed quotes is a short, four-paragraph letter addressed, "Dear Mr. President:

"The U.S. military is the most formidable military force on earth. But not every challenge has a military solution.

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

"Preventing a nuclear armed Iran is rightfully your priority, and your red line. Fortunately, diplomacy has not been exhausted, and peaceful solutions are still possible.

'Military action at this time is not only unnecessary, it is dangerous—for the United States and for Israel. We urge you to resist the pressure for a war of choice with Iran.

"Sincerely,

"Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (USA, ret.).

"Tom Finger—Fmr. Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis.

"Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, ret.).

"Gen. Joseph Hoar (USMC, ret.).

"Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, PhD (USA, ret.).

"Maj. Gen. Rudolph Ostovich III (USA, ret.).

"Paul Pillar—Fmr. National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia.

"Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (USA, ret.)."