Former Top-Ranked Military Officers Favor Negotiations over Conflict with Iran

During a roundtable discussion hosted by the American Security Project, Admiral William J. Fallon (USN Ret.) and Lieutenant General Frank Kearney (USA Ret.) spoke about the U.S. military policy options towards Iran. American Security Project’s CEO, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.), moderated the conversation.

While the speakers stated that military options are always on the table, both LTG Kearney and ADM Fallon emphasized that a political solution is the better approach.

Kearney, agreeing with the Obama administration’s current policy towards Iran, noted the risks of specifying red lines for military action as they could lead to a trigger of unintended consequences. “The timeline of Iran’s technical capabilities informs the policy decisions,” Kearney emphasized. His remarks described a window of opportunity that exists for decision makers to allow negotiations with Iran to proceed without prematurely resorting to a costly military intervention. Though preferable, Kearney was clear that negotiations are not likely to be easy for the parties involved, “…at the end of the day, both sides will have to give up something to get a deal.”

With extensive experience in the region as the head of U.S. Central Command, overseeing operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, Fallon spoke about the personal ties that exist between individuals in Iran and the United States but that strained relations between the two sides have led to mistrust among policymakers on both sides. As a result, Fallon noted that “confidence measures are a good first step in a quest for a negotiated Iran solution.” Remarking on the differences between rhetoric and the situation on the ground in Iran, Fallon emphasized trust would be an essential factor to create a positive outcome that does not involve military force. “At the end of the day, there’s going to have to be a negotiated compromise,” said Fallon, echoing Kearney’s assertion that “at the end of the day” a solution is going to rely on tough diplomacy.

Speaking frankly, both Kearney and Fallon underscored the need for further public discussion regarding the austere costs and consequences of military action against Iran.

LTG Kearney, ADM Fallon, and General Cheney are all endorsers of The Iran Project’s Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran.

American Security Project