Retired Gen. John Abizaid, formerly the leader of the U.S. Central Command, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that while a nuclear-armed Iran is an outcome to be avoided if possible, the country could be deterred just as the Soviet Union and Communist China were:
He suggested that many in Iran, perhaps even some in the Tehran government, are open to cooperating with the West. The thrust of his remarks was a call for patience in dealing with Iran, which President Bush early in his first term labeled one of the “axis of evil” nations, along with North Korea and Iraq.
He said there is a basis for hope that Iran, over time, will move away from its current anti-Western stance.
Abizaid’s comments appeared to represent a more accommodating and hopeful stance toward Iran than prevails in the White House, which speaks frequently of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The administration says it seeks a diplomatic solution to complaints about Iran’s alleged support for terrorism and its nuclear program, amid persistent rumors of preparations for a US military strike.
Abizaid expressed confidence that the United States and the world community can manage the Iran problem.
“I believe the United States, with our great military power, can contain Iran, that the United States can deliver clear messages to the Iranians that makes it clear to them that while they may develop one or two nuclear weapons they’ll never be able to compete with us in our true military might and power,” he said.