Mattis Sides with Iran Hawks

CENTCOM commander plans for conflict as POTUS continues to back negotiations


Four-star Marine Corps General and Centcom Commander of the Middle East, James Mattis, finds no basis for Obama’s hope of peace with Iran.

Eli Lake, of the Daily Beast, reports.

Mattis wanted to send a third aircraft-carrier group to the Persian Gulf earlier this year, The Daily Beast has exclusively learned, in what would have been a massive show of force at a time when Iranian military commanders were publicly threatening to sink American ships in the Strait of Hormuz. The four-star Marine Corps general and CentCom commander believed the display could have deterred Iran from further escalating tensions, according to U.S. military officials familiar with his thinking. …

Those who have worked with Mattis say his views when it comes to Iran are more in line with those of America’s allies in the Persian Gulf and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than with his own government’s. At a recent charity event for Spirit of America, Mattis, known by admirers as the “warrior monk” and by detractors as “Mad Dog Mattis,” said his three top concerns in the Middle East were “Iran, Iran, and Iran.”…

While Mattis has largely voiced his dissent about recent U.S. Iran assessments in private, on occasion his displeasure has spilled into the public record. In March, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Mattis, “After all the sanctions that have been imposed on the Iranian regime, do you believe the regime has been at all dissuaded from pursuing a nuclear-weapons capability?” Mattis responded: “No, sir, I have not seen that.”

The administration disagrees.

On Friday, Mark Landler of the New York Times reported that top officials in the Obama administration see “hopeful signs.” The upcoming oil sanctions, the recent decline in oil prices, Netanyahu’s new government in Israel, and “blustery statements from Iranian officials” seem to set the stage for “concessions by Tehran,” Landler wrote.

In a video posted by the Washington Post, Obama described himself and other international leaders as “hopeful,” adding, “we are unified when it comes to our approach to Iran.” Obama said the combination of sanctions and diplomacy will bring Iran to a peaceful settlement over its nuclear program. The G-8 leaders hope “that we can resolve this issue in a peaceful fashion that respects Iran’s sovereignty and its rights in the international community, but also recognizes its responsibilities,” Obama said.