Last week, former CIA director and NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden shared that during the George W. Bush administration “the consensus was that [attacking Iran] would guarantee that which we are trying to prevent — an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon.” But in a radio interview yesterday, ex-CIA director James Woolsey pushed in the opposite direction, calling on the Obama administration to consider military strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites and Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) facilities.
Woolsey, who served as President Bill Clinton’s CIA director from 1993 to 1995, told Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the right-wing WorldNetDaily, that IRGC facilities and “anything that is related to the thugs that are oppressing the Iranian people” were “fair game” for attacks if Iran moves to close the Strait of Hormuz:
Let it be known that if there is a closing of the Straits of Hormuz or any other aggressive action by Iran — after all we went to war in 1812 over something just about like what Iran says it’s going to do, close the Straits — if we see that […] virtually nothing that is tied to the Revolutionary Guard is out of our sights.
Woolsey went on to compare the IRGC to “a combination of Hitler’s Brown Shirts and Black Shirts” and declared:
If we let it be known that we’re going to be able to do what unfortunately Britain and France were unable to do in 36, ’37, ’38, which would be to take out Hitler’s regime. If we let it be known that we can do that in Iran, then I think we’ll be in a much stronger position.
But Woolsey is no stranger to staking out hawkish U.S. foreign policy positions. Last year, he spoke in support of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian exile group currently listed on the U.S. government’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations for its role in the killing of six Americans in the 1970s. Woolsey also serves as chair of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and advocated for the invasion of Iraq through his involvement with the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
Woolsey told Klein that the U.S. should send four to five aircraft carriers to the Indian Ocean to retaliate against Iran if it decides to close the Strait of Hormuz — the U.S. has 11 carrier strike groups — and suggested that Obama should emulate Teddy Roosevelt who dispatched the Great White Fleet to circumnavigate the globe for two years.
Indeed, Iran’s nuclear program is comprised of some troubling components. Last week, the IAEA expressed concern that elements of the program could suggest the development of nuclear weapons and the European Union just announced an oil embargo against Iran, banning all new oil contracts with Tehran. But Woolsey is setting himself apart from a growing number of retired American and Israeli intelligence chiefs expressing reservations about the rush to military action against Iran.