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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dempsey walks it back

In preparation for Monday's Netanyahu-Obama meeting, Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff is walking back some of the 'advice' he gave Israel when he was here last week.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on Tuesday told a Senate panel that he did not instruct Israel against an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was also speaking Tuesday on Capitol Hill, said that US President Barack Obama’s administration was working as “aggressively” as possible to implement sanctions on Iran, and that they had seen more progress than initially expected.

...

In an interview with CNN, he had said: “A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their [Israel’s] long-term objectives. I wouldn’t suggest, sitting here today, that we’ve persuaded them that our view is the correct view and that they are acting in an ill-advised fashion.”

On Tuesday, Dempsey said that he had merely spoken to Israeli officials about “the issue of time,” and had not advised them against a military strike on Iran.

Dempsey also defended comments in which he described Iran as a “rational” actor, stating in his panel testimony, “We can’t afford to underestimate our potential adversaries by writing them off as irrational.”
Saying that Iran is irrational doesn't equate with underestimating them. In fact, the opposite is true. Categorizing Iran as irrational makes it more likely that it is willing to take undue risks to its own population in order to strike back at others. Saying that they are rational underestimates the possibility that Iran will attack.

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