Former Generals and National Security Officials Call on President to Reverse Course on Iraq and Iran
"Hard Line" Has Underminded National Security and Make Americans Less Safe Rebuke Administration for Attacking Opponents as "Soft on Terrorism"
WASHINGTON - August 21 - Calling President Bush’s “hard line” policies on Iraq and Iran failures that have undermined national security and made America less safe, General Joseph Hoar (USMC ret.), Lt. General Robert Gard (USA ret.), and Morton Halperin, former National Security Council staff, released an open letter signed by twenty-one colleagues urging the Administration to reverse course (full text, list of signers & bios of three speakers below).
In a telephone press conference today, Lt. General Gard said, “We who have served this country cannot stand by silently while the President and his spokespeople attack critics of their deeply flawed policies as ‘soft on terrorism’. The Administration has repeatedly failed to seek diplomatic solutions to problems that are only inflamed by the use of military force. They need to start talking with the Iranians immediately,” he continued.
“We believe that the U.S. occupation of Iraq continues to divert our nation's resources from addressing adequately the most serious threat to our national security, Al Qaeda.” he added.
“We also believe that the President's failure to engage immediately and without preconditions in direct talks with the government of Iran, and the Administration's continued consideration of military action against that country, could lead to disastrous consequences for security in the region and for U.S. forces in Iraq,” he concluded.
The statement signed by former U.S. military, national security and foreign policy officials calls for immediate direct talks with the government of Iran, without preconditions, and cautions against the use of military action to resolve the current crises in the Middle East or to settle differences over Iran’s nuclear program.
As former military leaders and foreign policy officials, we call on the Bush Administration to engage immediately in direct talks with the government of Iran without preconditions to help resolve the current crisis in the Middle East and settle differences over the Iranian nuclear program.
We strongly caution against any consideration of the use of military force against Iran. The current crises must be resolved through diplomacy, not military action. An attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq, and it would inflame hatred and violence in the Middle East and among Muslims everywhere.
A strategy of diplomatic engagement with Iran will serve the interests of the U.S. and its allies, and would enhance regional and international security.
Ambassador Harry Barnes, Former Ambassador to Chile, India, and Romania
Lieutenant General Julius Becton, U.S. Army (Ret.); Former commander, VII
Corps, and Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Parker Borg, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy; Former Ambassador to Iceland and Mali; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotic Matters; Deputy Director of the Office for Combating Terrorism, U. S. State Department
Ambassador Peter Burleigh, Former U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Permanent
Representative of the United States to the United Nations; Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Ambassador and Coordinator of the Office of Counter-Terrorism; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia
Ambassador Ralph Earle II, Former chief negotiator of the SALT II Treaty and Director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote, U.S. Army (Ret.). Former Deputy Inspector General, U.S. Army
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, African Affairs, Charge/Deputy Chief of Mission, American Embassy (Bangkok; Beijing); and Director, Chinese Affairs, Department of State
Morton Halperin, Senior Fellow of the Center for American Progress; Director of U.S. Advocacy for the Open Society Institute; Former director of Policy Planning, Department of State
Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.); Former military assistant to the Secretary of Defense; president, National Defense University. Currently Senior Military Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
General Joseph P. Hoar, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.); Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command
Brigadier General John Johns, U.S. Army (Ret.); Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Professor Frank N. von Hippel, Former Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Dr. Lawrence Korb, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Installations and Logistics
Major General Frederick H. Lawson, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.); Former Reserve Division Commander
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, U.S. Army (Ret.); former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence
Lieutenant General Charles P. Otstott, U.S. Army (Ret.); former Deputy Chairman, NATO Military Committee
Ambassador Edward L. Peck, Former Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania; Deputy Director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism; Deputy Coordinator for Covert Intelligence Programs and Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State; Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Brig. Gen. Maurice D. Roush, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Dr. Sarah Sewall, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance; Foreign Policy Adviser to Senator George J. Mitchell
Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Former Director of the Center for Defense Information and currently Chairman, Military Advisory Committee, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities
LTG James M. Thompson, U.S. Army (Ret.). Former Chief of Military Mission to Turkey (JUSMMAT); Chief of Staff, Allied Forces, Southern Europe
Vice Admiral Ralph Weymouth, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Former Commanding Officer of Flagship on Commander Middle East Force; Northern NATO Desk Officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Internal Security Affairs; and Commander, Iceland Defense Force