Tags: Iran | Israel | MidPoint | Richard Brennan | Hezbollah | Israel | Iran nuclear

Mideast Expert: US Policy 'Adrift' as Iran Speeds Toward Nukes

By    |   Wednesday, 28 January 2015 01:20 PM

The volatile Middle East has so many moving parts right now that the Obama administration is going at it with a "flailing," incoherent and seemingly directionless foreign policy that empowers wannabe-nuclear Iran and undercuts the leadership role America must play abroad, says a senior political scientist at RAND Corp.

And there's no better illustration of this dangerous drift than countries such as Jordan cutting deals with terrorists to free their captive citizens, career military officer and counterterrorism expert Richard Brennan told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.

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"It's always a bad idea to deal with terrorists, even for a prisoner swap, because once you do that you set the conditions to give them rationale to conduct other operations to get additional prisoners," said Brennan.

"It's a terrible precedent to set," he said, "but you have to understand where Jordan is right now and many of the other countries in the region. They're absolutely confused about what the U.S. position is, what the U.S. policy is, what we're trying to achieve, and we've really disappointed a lot of the people like Jordan and Qatar and UAE.

"Nobody seems to know what our political goals are, and nobody seems to know what our strategy is. And that's because this administration, at this point, is adrift in a policy vacuum," said Brennan.

Brennan said the paralysis extends to President Barack Obama's handling of Iran and that country's suspected nuclear weapons program, which the State Department is trying to negotiate out of existence even as talks stall and Iran continues to threaten U.S. ally Israel.

"This administration — and to be fair the Bush administration, also — we're all paralyzed by the Iranian nuclear issue," said Brennan. "Every policy that we tried to develop against Iranian-sponsored militants — whether it be Hezbollah or the number of Iraqi militias, the Houthis in Yemen — all of those policies and how we respond to them have been held hostage to the nuclear issue.

"We have got to make certain that the Iranians don't acquire nuclear weapons," said Brennan, "and it's very likely, [with] the direction that we're going — and the dragging on of the deliberations —  that we're going to end up having Iran with a [nuclear] breakout capacity within several months.

"We may stop them temporarily," he said.

"This is something that, at a certain point, Israel is going to have to look at," said Brennan, alluding to Israeli discussions of a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, "and determine whether or not they try to do something on their own, although that will be very difficult to do."

Closer to home, Israel is again dealing with Hezbollah militants firing rockets into its territory. But Brennan said that an all-out war against Hezbollah is not a great option.

"That would be a long, drawn-out war for the Israelis and … they don't want to get in that type of conflict," he said. "They'd rather go ahead and try to manage the problem, and deal on an international level with the nuclear issue — which is the big issue for them.

"Iran has claimed they want to destroy 'the little Satan' [Israel] and they want to destroy the U.S., a 'great Satan,' " said Brennan, meaning that "Iran in a possession of a nuclear weapon … would be extremely deadly and destabilizing for the entire region."

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The volatile Middle East has so many moving parts right now that the Obama administration is going at it with a "flailing," incoherent and seemingly directionless foreign policy, says a senior political scientist at RAND Corp.
Richard Brennan, Hezbollah, Israel, Iran nuclear, Obama policy, RAND
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 01:20 PM
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