A senior U.S. intelligence source yesterday confirmed that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are on an all-out war-avoidance mobilization, fearing that President Obama is—to use a euphemism—"unpredictable." The source emphasized that, as long as the Iran situation remains in limbo, the military brass will oppose any other military operations, including against Syria.
What they fear the most, given the Obama wild card, is that they will be drawn into a war that they vehemently oppose, as the result of an Israeli attack against Iran, followed by Iranian retaliation against Israel and U.S. forces and U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf. The United States has bilateral treaty obligations with several of the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries, that would be activated in the event of any Iranian attacks against them.
Once the U.S. is drawn into such a war, there is no limit to the conflict, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons. Additionally, the source emphasized, the U.S. is still deployed in Iraq, and the relationship with Pakistan has become extremely complex. There is greater concern about a military crisis with Pakistan than there is about any conflict involving Syria. And there is still a real possibility of Libya erupting into sectarian violence and civil war. It is for all of these reasons, the source emphasized, that the Pentagon leadership is adamantly opposed to any escalation against Syria or Iran at this time. He added that the only war that the Pentagon wants to fight right now is a war with the Congress over the sequestration/budget cuts.
The source also acknowledged that the Russian position on the U.S. plans for a missile defense system in southern Europe are very legitimate, and must be addressed. Neither the Obama Administration, nor any leading NATO countries, have done enough to draw Russia in to a genuine partnership on the missile defense plans. This has been further exacerbated by Obama's deteriorating relations with both Medvedev and Putin.