Panetta, Dempsey Pour Cold Water on War Drive
August 15, 2012 • 10:38AM

The U.S. military, led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and the rest of the Joint Chiefs, remain obstacles to the British-Obama war drive against both Syria and Iran, as shown by Tuesday's press briefing at the Pentagon with Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. In response to a question on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks in Istanbul hinting at the possibility of setting up a no-fly zone over Syria, Dempsey reiterated that his job is to "provide options," and that there have been discussions with both Jordan and Turkey about options, to include setting up safe havens that would involve no-fly zones, "but we're not planning anything unilaterally, if that's what you're asking." Panetta explained that, right now, the DoD is focused on providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, monitoring the security of the chemical weapons depots and assisting the opposition forces. "With regards to the no-fly zone," he said, "that is not a front-burner issue for us."

Similarly, with Iran, there is no rush to war at the Pentagon. When asked about all the reporting indicating that Israel may be ready to attack, Panetta said what he's said before: "I don't believe they've made a decision as to whether or not they will— they will go in and attack Iran at this time."

Dempsey, however, sent an even more interesting message to Israel. He was asked specifically if he thought that Israel had the capability of destroying Iran's nuclear program. "I'm not privy to their planning," he said. "So what I'm telling you is based on what I know of their capabilities, and I may not know about all their capabilities, but I think that it's a fair characterization to say that they could delay, but not destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities."