8 de marzo de 2007

London Times: Generales estadounidenses renunciarían si EU ataca a Irán

Sunday Times (London)

February 25, 2007

US generals 'will quit' if Bush orders Iran attack
Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter

Washington - Some of America's most senior military
commanders are prepared to resign if the White House
orders a military strike against Iran, according to
highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an
attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before
President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times
has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are
willing to resign rather than approve what they
consider would be a reckless attack.

"There are four or five generals and admirals we know
of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on
Iran," a source with close ties to British
intelligence said. "There is simply no stomach for it
in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether
such an attack would be effective or even possible."

A British defence source confirmed that there were
deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military
strike. "All the generals are perfectly clear that
they don't have the military capacity to take Iran on
in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and
it would be a matter of conscience for them.

"There are enough people who feel this would be an
error of judgment too far for there to be

A generals' revolt on such a scale would be
unprecedented. "American generals usually stay and
fight until they get fired," said a Pentagon source.

Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly
warned against striking Iran and is believed to
represent the view of his senior commanders.

The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a
warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all
options, including military action, remained on the
table. He was responding to a comment by Tony Blair
that it would not "be right to take military action
against Iran".

Iran ignored a United Nations deadline to suspend its
uranium enrichment programme last week. President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that his country "will
not withdraw from its nuclear stances even one single

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that
Iran could soon produce enough enriched uranium for
two nuclear bombs a year, although Tehran claims its
programme is purely for civilian energy purposes.

Nicholas Burns, the top US negotiator, is to meet
British, French, German, Chinese and Russian officials
in London tomorrow to discuss additional penalties
against Iran. But UN diplomats cautioned that further
measures would take weeks to agree and would be mild
at best.

A second US navy aircraft carrier strike group led by
the USS John C Stennis arrived in the Gulf last week,
doubling the US presence there. Vice Admiral Patrick
Walsh, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, warned:
"The US will take military action if ships are
attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or
US troops come under direct attack."

But General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs
of staff, said recently there was "zero chance" of a
war with Iran. He played down claims by US
intelligence that the Iranian government was
responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing
Bush on the defensive.

Pace's view was backed up by British intelligence
officials who said the extent of the Iranian
government's involvement in activities inside Iraq by
a small number of Revolutionary Guards was "far from

Hillary Mann, the National Security Council's main
Iran expert until 2004, said Pace's repudiation of the
administration's claims was a sign of grave discontent
at the top.

"He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier," she
said. "It is extraordinary for him to have made these
comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious
problems between the White House, the National
Security Council and the Pentagon."

Mann fears the administration is seeking to provoke
Iran into a reaction that could be used as an excuse
for an attack. A British official said the US navy was
well aware of the risks of confrontation and was being
"seriously careful" in the Gulf.

The US air force is regarded as being more willing to
attack Iran. General Michael Moseley, the head of the
air force, cited Iran as the main likely target for
American aircraft at a military conference earlier
this month.

According to a report in The New Yorker magazine, the
Pentagon has already set up a working group to plan
airstrikes on Iran. The panel initially focused on
destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and on regime
change but has more recently been instructed to
identify targets in Iran that may be involved in
supplying or aiding militants in Iraq.

However, army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would
backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more
terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat
of a regional war.

Britain is concerned that its own troops in Iraq might
be drawn into any American conflict with Iran,
regardless of whether the government takes part in the

One retired general who participated in the "generals'
revolt" against Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq
war said he hoped his former colleagues would resign
in the event of an order to attack. "We don't want to
take another initiative unless we've really thought
through the consequences of our strategy," he warned.