Former CIA Director James Woolsey stopped by Jake Tapper's show on CNN* to talk bombs, Iran and Syria. His goal, apparently, was to make the case that not only should the United States bomb Syria in retaliation for the gas attack earlier this week (because killing more innocents is clearly a way to punish Assad?), but also Iran.
Here's a thing that bothers me. In this discussion about Syria and military action, media seems to automatically assume that Trump is in lockstep with the assessment that Assad was behind the gas attack. Someone should ask him about that, because I'm betting he's wavering between Assad's explanation that those nasty rebels did it, and the mainstream assessment that Assad did.
Either way, dropping more bombs on Syrian hospitals does not seem like the way forward to me, but it certainly does to James Woolsey.
"Assad does not care what we do. Russia is not going to change its support, and Iran is certainly not going to change its support of Assad," Woolsey contended. "Assad is kind of -- kind of Iran's poodle mainly in this whole world."
Assad is being propped up by Russia. It's Putin's puppet, not Iran's poodle. But if Woolsey were to acknowledge that, he'd have no excuse for what he said next.
According to Woolsey, it is very important "to plan very seriously for a major military strike against the parts of the Iranian infrastructure that are headed toward nuclear weapons."
It's a TWOFER! Bomb Syria, bomb, bomb Iran! YAY?
This is where I remind everyone that Iran is under a pretty strict agreement not to have facilities that actually are infrastructure for nuclear weapons, and the accountability is strong.
Woolsey, of course, disagrees. He is aching for military solutions to trump diplomatic ones in place right now.
"If our forces do use air power against Iran, it would be possible to knock out some of the Syrian facilities, too. but we are down to a situation where we will see a nuclear Iran i think very shortly because of bad decisions that have been made in the past, unless we do something," Woolsey worried. "And this at least gives us an opportunity to do something that is tied to the Syrian events, and that would be use force against the Iranian nuclear program."
Like I said, a two-fer. Kill some Syrians, kill some Iranians, and for what, again? For a fantasy that our accountability standards in Iran -- which don't involve Russian verification, by the way...unlike Syria -- should be shattered in order to swagger around and destabilize the region even more?
When Jake Tapper pushed back on him about that, Woolsey basically shrugged as if to say, "What's a country to do?"
Woolsey answered, "If we want to change the nature of the threat to us in that part of the world, I think what we have to do is take out the Iranian nuclear program, if we can without hitting any Russian units..., some of the Syrian capability."
So, wait. We're supposed to violate our own international agreement, surgically strike Iran AND Syria without hitting any Russian units.
Here's a thought. Perhaps we should not take military action at all over there, and particularly not until we have absolute clarification on whether Trump believes Assad or those rebels.
Remember, Trump thinks Assad is fighting ISIS. That's who he thinks the Syrian rebels are. In July, 2016, he told Margaret Sanger in an interview that, "I think we have to get rid of ISIS before we get rid of Assad." Why? Because he perceives Assad as a useful weapon in the fight against ISIS, which is all he talks about.
This has been a mantra of his. In February, 2016, he said, "You got to fight ISIS first. You fight ISIS first. Right now you have Russia, you have Iran, you have them with Assad, and you have them with Syria. You have to knock out ISIS. They’re chopping off heads. These are animals. You have to knock em out. You have to knock them off strong. You decide what to do after, you can’t fight two wars at one time.”"
I wouldn't be so quick to assume any military action he would approve would involve making Assad pay for anything at all. Or Iran. Because ISIS is his boogeyman, and as long as he believes Assad and Putin are standing against ISIS, he's not going to act against him -- diplomatically or with military force.
As for James Woolsey, I would like to recommend that he enjoy his retirement. Out of the public eye, please. We've had enough wars. We don't need more.
*CNN: Can we not put neoconservative warmongers on the air and pretend they have even a hint of credibility when it comes to what to do in that region of the world? Pretty please?
(h/t OnTheBus17, via Twitter)