Two former US Defense Secretaries, Leon Panetta and James Mattis, called this weekend for US-Iranian negotiations, citing the potential threat posed by Iran to the Middle East and the entire world.
“The bottom line is, they are dangerous,” said Panetta, who served as the head of the Defense Department under President Obama. “We need to try to get them to the negotiating table. And I don’t think what we’re doing now is working very effectively to get that done.”
Mattis has repeatedly warned of the threat a nuclear-capable Iran poses to international security, and said at the event that “it’s going to take allies and partners” to make progress on containing the country’s belligerence.
“You’ve also got the internal dynamics there where you can be dealing with people who really are trying to deal with you in good faith, but meanwhile behind the scenes something completely different is going on,” he said.
Speaking at the comments at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, the two former senior officials criticized the White House’s response to the Iranian military shooting down a US military drone in June, saying that they would have pushed for a stronger response. At the time, the US responded to the attack with new economic sanctions on Tehran and launched a cyber operation against Iranian missile systems.
“If they don’t understand that we are willing to exercise that (military) strength, we have a hell of a time trying to get them to try to abide by the kind of international standards that we would like them to,” Mattis said.
Panetta said he wanted to see “additional steps taken to make clear that we’re not going to allow that,” to include a stronger cyber response.
[Source: Military Times]