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.