Sunday, February 2, 2014

Senior DoD Official: "We are not going to use military means to prevent Iran from acquiring nukes"

"... American foreign policy continues to project a seemingly contradictory strategy. In his State of the Union Address President Obama – as we suggested last week – concentrated primarily on domestic issues. When he spoke of international affairs, he focused on the end of a decade of war, declaring that “America must move off a permanent war footing.” The message for the audience at home, therefore, is one of “coming home” and a de-emphasis on the military as the main instrument of US power projection.  By contrast, the message to the international audience as reflected in Secretary of State Kerry’s intervention at the Davos World Economic Forum and which will be reinforced by him and Secretary of Defense Hagel at this week’s Munich Security Conference is that the US remains as engaged in the world as ever. Obama will further echo this theme when he visits Brussels and other European capitals following the US-EU Summit at the end of March. When we broach this apparent inconsistency with White House, State Department and Pentagon contacts, they explain that both aspects contain elements of the truth. A senior Defense Department official gave a practical example: “We remain as committed as always to preventing Iran for acquiring a nuclear weapon. We know, however, that we are not going to use military means to execute this aim. Instead we will use a mix of coercion through sanctions and incentives via diplomacy. We are not walking away.” State Department officials are equally insistent that the framework for a Middle East peace agreement due to be presented by Kerry in the coming weeks will underline the unique capability of the US to deliver results. Some of the obstacles Obama faces come from his own party. ...  Meanwhile over the two most pressing dramas of the moment – Syria and Ukraine – US officials concede that the limitations of US influence are all too visible."

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