US Generals "will quit" if Bush orders an attack on Iran
Mon, 26 Feb 2007 04:23:58


Some of America's most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources. Tension in the Persian Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office, Sunday Times reports.

The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don't have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion"

A generals' revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.

Nicholas Burns, the top U.S. negotiator, is to meet British, French, German, Chinese and Russian officials in London today to discuss additional penalties against Iran. But UN diplomats cautioned that further measures would take weeks to agree and would be mild at best.

Recent Statement made by General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chief of staff, that there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran, as well as playing down claims by U.S. intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.

Hillary Mann, the National Security Council's main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace's repudiation of the administration's claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top. “He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier,” she said .“It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon ".

Mann fears the administration is seeking to provoke Iran into a reaction that could be used as an excuse for an attack.

General Michael Moseley, the head of the air force, cited Iran as the main likely target for American aircraft at a military conference earlier this month. According to a report in The New Yorker magazine, the Pentagon has already set up a working group to plan air-strikes on Iran. The panel initially focused on destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been instructed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq.

However, army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat of a regional war.