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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

General Thomas McInerney Weighs In On Iran

Hugh Hewitt conducted an interview with General Thomas McInerney. He is the retired assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, formerly director of the Defense Performance Review. He's also the founder of Government Reform Through Technology, GRTT. He had quite a bit to say about Iran, and as we seem to be on that topic today (yesterday, last week, a month ago, sometime late last year, etc.) I decided to follow up Thomas' post with one of my own focusing on General McInerney. He seems to think the detractors of military action are, well, you will see. (Transcript excerpts care of Generalissimo Duane.

HH: General, I got the need to talk to you, and thanks for Jed Babbin for connecting us. After reading yesterday a number of reactions to the announcement by the Iranian regime, about which I know you have written a great deal, that even though they're going nuclear, there's nothing the United States could do about it, because they've buried their facilities, and they have disbursed them. As a former senior planner for all of, I think, Operation Desert Storm, etc., what's your reaction to those assessments of the capability of the American military?

TM: Well, first of all, I wasn't a senior planner for Desert Storm. But my reactions is that's baloney. We have a very, very good military option, and I've been talking about it. Remember, Hugh, without a good military option, diplomacy will fail. We also need the will to use that option. But if we do fail, and Iran goes nuclear with weapons, then you can expect within one to two years, that those weapons will be in U.S. cities, and will go off. This is a very, very dangerous regime. President Ahmadinejead believes that the 12th imam will come back out of a well in Qom, Iran, and once two-thirds of the world's population is killed through disasters, pestilence or warfare. He is a very dangerous man, and could be said he's a madman. So if people need an incentive to make sure that Iran doesn't go nuclear, that's what they ought to be thinking about.

Indeed. This is a point we have made numerous times in regard to President Ahmadinejad. The man is a religious extremist. If we are fighting religious extremists, and he is following the same or similar ideology, then why is it that those that supported going after al Qaeda are trying to downplay a military option? Iran is just as much the problem as al Qaeda is. Granted, we are talking about dealing with a much larger problem than just one terrorist group, but I believe that we are fighting an ideology that is both repressive and intolerant; two things that are not openly welcome in civilized society today.

HH: Okay. Let's go to the idea of the hard targeting that would have to happen, that they've got these hardened and deeply buried facilities that we can't touch. As a professional, what's your reaction to that?

TM: Well, first of all, we can touch them. And we're developing, and it's in development. It's going to be dropped here very shortly, a 28,000 pound bomb. A B-2 can carry two of them. You put two of those in the same hole, that's 56,000 pounds of TNT, hardened, that will penetrate the 70 feet of concrete, reinforced concrete that we're talking about penetrating. Today, we could put 16-32 5,000 pound bunker busters into the target area simultaneously. Someone did a snowflake, I think, and said what could we do? Could we do it with nuclear? And that may be where Seymour Hersh came up with his article, or his pronouncement, which by the way...

HH: General, will you explain what a snowflake is?

TM: Yeah, a snowflake is when a senior civilian or general sends a question down, how would we do this? How would be penetrate at Natanz, this concrete overhead? And so the planners write up an option, and they go back and they say this could be one way to do it. We could use a 1.2 kiloton nuclear weapon, or we could do some other things. And of course, someone leaks different options, they're not thinking of doing that, they're just pointing out what they could do.

HH: And so, obviously, you think we've got the capability to do this. What about the second objection, that the Iranians have a secret track that we don't know about, that our intelligence is not up to destroying all of their facilities. How do you respond to that?

TM: Well, you'll probably not get all of them, but you don't need to get all of them. What we're talking about, and the military option that I'm talking about, and this is my own, my notion, though, is we'd go in and hit 1,500 targets with precision weapons in a time frame of 24-36, maybe 48 hours. We would take out as much of the nuclear development as we could take out. We would in fact take out their navy, their army...excuse me, their air force, their integrated air defense system, and their retaliatory capability with the Shahab-3 missiles, as well as we would take out their command and control. Now...and then, simultaneously, we would start a covert operation campaign using dissident forces, and there are lots of dissidents in Iran, and get them...let the Iranians take their country back with the help from us in Special Operations forces, CIA operatives, etc.

Yes. This is what we have long proposed. A quick strike with assistance to the dissidents in Iran to help bring down the final elements of the regime. Not all warfare lay on the battlefield, and as Sunt-Tzu states, all warfare is based on deception. A quick bombing operation to cripple their nuclear capabilities, and covert operations to bolster the separatists would be the best way to bring down the regime. This is not something that is taken lightly. Committing troops to combat never is, but it is the option that must work hand-in-hand with diplomacy. At some point, there must be a punishment for a transgression. A stick, and a carrot, if you will, to spurn on negotiations, and allow diplomacy a chance. However, there must always be a "fallback" option, as the president gave Saddam Hussein, in addition to the UN resolution to come clean.

HH: General, one of the objections from political columnists is that Iran's regime won't be toppled by this, and that they will strike back using Hezbollah around the globe, and specifically against our forces in Iraq. Your response?

TM: Yes, remember that what they were going to do when we went into Iraq? The Arab street was going to rise up?

HH: Exactly.

TM: Look, this is bull hockey. They're trying to intimidate us, and I would love them to do that, because if they come out and make these strikes, and they may very well, they're not going to topple our regime, but they're going to get a lot of them killed. And so I would welcome them to do that. I suspect they will not. But what it does tell you is that Iran is the king of terror, and controls Hezbollah. It controls Hamas. It controls Islamic Jihad. It plays a major control today in al Qaeda. That's what it tells us. That's why it tells us it's important that this regime be changed.

And that is what makes Iran as dangerous as they are. And while I do share the general's assessment that is it "bull hockey," the possibility does loom that they could use such a strategy on us. However, as Iraq has shown, the resolve of the military is not broken from a few, cowardly-planted roadside bombs. This is not cavalier callousness; it is a hard fact, and one in which our enemies should take note. This is not the military that the antiwar nuts in the 60s and 70s played with, and ultimately disgraced. This is the new military, and it is under the command of competant people who know how to adapt.

HH: General, you mentioned 1,500 targets over 24-48 hours. Will we telegraph that that is coming via the deployment of aircraft to the region? Or is that already capable of occurring with the assets in place in the Middle East?

TM: Well, in that we'd have 500 cruise missiles, etc. We would have to do some deployments. There's no question about it. But one of the important things, we should form a coalition of the willing over there, Hugh. That coalition of the willing should consist of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and maybe some other NATO nations. And you take it with the proviso, you say look, we want to solve this diplomatically. And we need your help, and the solidarity of you helping us in the diplomatic effort is key. But after a certain designated time, which you would keep classified, if they're not going to do it, then you have got to help us with the military option. Now, not all of those people will take that. But then you tell them, look, we asked you to help with this diplomatically. We asked you to help. So don't complain when it goes wrong, and we have to do this. Now I can tell you that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, do not want a nuclear Iran...Iran having the hegemony over the region.

Ah, yes. This is a point that I tried to make a couple Sundays ago in our open topic discussion here on the site. Iran is looking for hegemony over the region. As the "new Persia" they want a new Islamic empire; a caliphate, if you will. They are shooting for a caliphate over the world, but even nuts like President Ahmadinejad have to start small. Hitler did, and there is no question that the former is much like the latter.

HH: General, what do you make of the fact that in recent days, Major General John Batiste, and retired Marine Corps General Greg Newbold, Army Major General Paul Eaton, Marine Corps General Zinni have all spoken out against the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and portions of the war. Are you surprised by this?

TM: Well, I don't know. I haven't heard Batiste. I've heard Zinni's comments, or read Zinni's comments. I've read Greg Newbold. I'm on a board with Greg. I'm somewhat surprised, but when I read their comments, I'm embarrassed for them. For instance, Zinni wants stability in the region. He says it's not an ideology we're fighting. Hugh, we are fighting an ideology as bad as Communism, Nazism and Facism. It's Islamic extremism. That is our problem there. If General Tony Zinni doesn't understand that, who I used to have great respect for, and he was the commander of Central Command, I think we're in deep trouble.

Take that! I stated above that we were fighting an ideology in this war. Many would like to confuse it as Islam versus the Rest of the Free World. That is a gross misconception that is likely to expand this war should that ever be conveyed by any free leader. This is an ideology. Were this a true, full-out religious movement, less would be speaking out against it, and Iranian dissdents would not be practically begging us to come help them. Our enemies are not those who practice Islam in general. But it is with those who subscribe to this barbaric belief.

HH: ... Now General, in your long career, obviously Iran was our ally, and now they're our deadly enemy. And you mention if we take out the regime, that you believe the Iranian people will welcome that. But a lot of people heard us say that we would be greeted a liberators, and my next guest, Christopher Hitchens, says we were in Iraq. Do you really believe the Persian, the Iranian people, will welcome the assistance of changing this regime? Or will they react as any nationalists would to having their country attacked?

TM: I think there'll be a combination. First of all, there are lots of dissidents, and lots of Iranians out here. 51% of the population, Hugh, in Iran are Persian. 24% are Azerbaijanian. 10% are Kurds. That's 85%. And then you have Arabs that are, say, 2-3%, and some Christians, and they even have a small number of Jews there. That fact is, is that...and 70% of the population is under the age of 30, and their unemployement rate is 16-20% at least. It could be 25. They have a problem. They're not creating jobs. They're throwing all these dollars into this nuclear program, and they're not creating jobs and helping the people. So I believe that on balance, there will be a significant number. Now, as you know...look, we did have people when we went into Iraq, that welcomed us. They really welcomed us. The fact was, is we didn't have a magic wand, and could turn the electricity on, which Saddam didn't develop, could create sewage systems. When I was over there in December and flying over Baghdad, I thought it had rained the night before. It wasn't rain. It was the sewage system emptying out into the streets. They've never had one. And so the fact is, is their infrastructure was a travesty. And all those things we weren't aware of. So over time, that has hurt, but look, I'll tell you, if you think morale's bad, morale's great for our troops. The morale that is bad is for the terrorists.

Will we be welcomed as liberators? It is an interesting question, and I do believe we will be. We were in Iraq, to the disdain of much of the Left who still lie that we were not. I watched our entry into Baghdad on television, and I remember the jubilant people that were happy to see us, and were silently praying we would not pull a repeat of 1991. We have not, as yet, and I doubt we will. The same, I trust, will be with Iran. Enough people dislike rule under the mullahs that they would welcome a regime change. But before we can do that, Iran must be softened up. Through diplomacy, and possibly military action, but we must help the dissidents in one way or another.

But this must be understood by everyone involved in this debate. We are not taking the military option off of the table. To do so would be foolish. The wise leader prepares for the next conflict, because it will come. That is what we are doing now. We are preparing for the option to be used, though we do not really wish to use it. But, for the dplomacy to work, there must be the threat of repercussions for breaking an agreement. We want them to stop their enrichment. The UN and IAEA wants them to stop their enrichment. We know what this can, and will, lead to. If we have to, we will strike them, and no feeble excuse will deter the use of that option if we feel that we are threatened.

The Bunny ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent interview and blog. I happen to believe that Iran's leaders including their religious leaders mean what they say. They aren't bluffing. They don't appreciated the niceties of diplomacy except brut force and that we have. The only question is will we use it? Rawriter

9:33 PM  
Blogger Syd And Vaughn said...


One could hope that we do use force, if and when we deem it necessary. This world right now can't handle the evil that Ahmadinejad could spread with a Nazi-esque march across the Middle East. And by the time he was through, there would be little the free world could do at that point.

The spinelessness of the free world is sad, and likely to lose this impending confrontation without solid courage and determination.

The poison that would be spread would rival that of Hitler's as the ideology in question is so steeped in unmitigated hatred that to break it, it would likely take longer than those from the end of World War II forward.

Carry no misnomer: This is a confrontation that will determine the course of human history. Iran isn't one to be trifled with lightly.

Mistress Pundit

9:50 PM  
Blogger Mr.Atos said...

The Left’s (and indeed the world’s) impotence now on the issue of Iran, should serve to prove once and for all that their strategy of containment with Iraq under Hussein was one of perpetual submission... and indirect cooperation (Germany, France, Russia). Now, even with the hindsight and the guilt of their culpability in aiding the triumph of evil in the 21st century, the Left continues to propose to do nothing. And even as good men act in their absense, they will surely damn them for their belligerence with a force and determination never once raised against, Ahmadinejad or Hussein before.

You make a great point, that a wise leader prepares for the next conflict. I further submit, that Iran’s threat was certainly not lost on the leadership in Washington when they positioned Armies on either end of its lower torso... between Tehran and the Gulf. The options are ours. The decision is their’s. And confidence is high.

President Ahmadinejad has stormed the cabin of civilization intent on doing some very bad things. The question is now, what are we going to do about it, given that the world has more planes and more maniacs, too many soft targets... And far too many fools willing to have their throats cut.

7:17 AM  

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