Over the weekend I had an interesting discussion with some of my fellow members in the Boulder City Club. It was an ad hoc on-line discussion resulting in a forum at the Club on the 29th of this month to discuss the potential of war in the Middle East over Iran and US involvement. One of the key points of interest to some of us is the ability or inability of the US to understand foreign cultures – to understand what is really happening in Iran.
Tonight I was reading an interview of General Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Clinton and President George W. Bush until October of 2001. Unfortunately, the interviewer characterized General Shelton’s comment as opposed to repeating the quote, but here is the summary:
“Shelton feels the 43rd president was mislead by advisors and faulty intelligence, and driven by a mania for retribution sparked by the brutality of 9/11. With Rumsfeld, Shelton pulls no punches. He is unremittingly critical of the oldest secretary of defense in U.S. history, commenting on Rumsfeld’s Teflon reputation and ability to sidestep criticism while at the same time riding roughshod over his generals and countermanding or ignoring their advice.” Jeffrey M. Cunningham, “From Battlefield to Boardroom”, NACD Directorship, January/February (2012).
Shelton waited ten years after his retirement to publish his views in his autobiography so as not to burden a sitting president and defense secretary in a war. While I understand the honor in that decision, I believe many of us would have wanted to know that opinion in 2004 before the election. As President Obama makes his decision, I hope the decision process for or against war or an alternative such as I proposed in my January 24th post is based on something more moral than retribution. I hope it is based on the reality of what is happening in Iran.
I have friends with children in the military and the parents of one of my closest friends live in Tehran (victims of years of discrimination for being Zoroastrian). If the President gives the order that costs them their lives, it should be because Iran is a real threat to the United States. Not because we do not like their government, retribution for 1979, or threats to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, or anyone else’s agenda.