Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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What Happens When Iran Kills American Soldiers, Take Two

by Elliott Abrams
July 11, 2011

On July 8 I noted the comments of the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mullen, that “Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups which are killing our troops.”  Today, our new Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, added his voice during a visit to Iraq where he spoke to U.S. troops:

“We’re very concerned about Iran and the weapons they’re providing to extremists in Iraq. We cannot sit back and simply allow this to continue to happen. This is not something we’re going to walk away from. It’s something we’re going to take on head on.”

Sounds tough, but what will we do? According to the Fox News report, “Panetta said Iraq must more aggressively go after the Shiite militias that are using what he called Iranian-supplied weapons.” That suggests that the American action will be to pressure Iraq to do more. We should, but we should recognize that the chances Iraq will take on Iran here if we are unwilling to do so are zero. In fact, if that’s all we are going to do Panetta would have been better off staying silent.

As I wrote last week, Iran should not be permitted to help kill Americans with total impunity. The secretary of defense put it well: “We cannot sit back and simply allow this to continue to happen.” He now owes it to the men under his command to spell out and implement a policy that “takes this on head on” and ends it.

Post a Comment 11 Comments

  • Posted by Roger Pincus

    I had the same reaction when reading the comments of Panetta and, previously, Mullen. If Iran is supplying weapons that we know are being used to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, and we are publicly calling them out for it, the only logical next step is U.S. military action against Iran. Failure to take such action will render the Obama Administration complicit in Iran’s continuing participation in the killing of our troops.

  • Posted by Hass

    I think we’re all far more interested in what happens when Israel kills Americans like Rachel Corrie or the American killed on the last flotilla.

  • Posted by Hass

    and we know you’re far too much of an Israel-firster to post that comment, Eliot.

  • Posted by Jeff

    You are taking a dangerous position here. Since Iran, if what the US military says is true, is providing weapons that help Iraqis kill Americans, and you seem to be implying that we should attack Iran directly for doing that, where would be be if all of those countries whose nationals have been victimized by weapons provided to other countries by the US, decided to do what you suggest, in principle, and attack us?

  • Posted by Roger

    Those other countries would be deterred from such attacks by a firm U.S. national security policy, and a firm U.S. policy is precisely what is being suggested.

  • Posted by Elliott Abrams

    To Jeff:
    I understand the question, but Iran is not supplying arms to any countries at all. It is supplying them to terrorist groups, something the United States does not do. So the comparison is not apt.

  • Posted by smile

    hy should ira try to kill american troopers now that it intends to leave iraq?

  • Posted by Bee Sting

    The Palestinian Authority/Fatah is not a “country” – it is an extension of PLO’s/Arafat and now unified with Hamas terrorists. However, the U.S. has been supplying military training/supplies and BILLIONS to Fatah, which will one day enable the PA’s to turn that training against the State of Israel. Congress, recently, has considered the thought of stopping aid to the PA’s and I wish they would do it sooner, rather than later.

  • Posted by Matt Williams

    ‘It is supplying them to terrorist groups, something the United States does not do’.

    This is incorrect. The U.S. IS the world’s terrorist organization.

  • Posted by Dean A. Smallwood

    I believe Panetta has been placed at DOD to facilitate the Obama Administration’s goal of a quick and tidy withdrawl from Iraq come what may . Panetta’s statement that al Quaeda is almost a defeated entity is more wishful thinking than fact .

    Panetta was out of his league at CIA . I’m afraid that he’s in way over his head at DOD too . This is looking more and more like an ignominious defeat .

  • Posted by Darla

    txt letter two slodier is soldier

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