July 10th, 2008
09:50 AM ET

Strategy Session: Iran's testing of missiles

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Iran is making headlines after test-firing missiles... Last night on AC360° we sat down with CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Middle East Analyst Reza Aslan to explore the larger implications, and give context to what's happening in the region. Here are their observations and insight:

On attacking Iran:

David Gergen
Former Presidential Adviser
CNN Senior Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

"The big question tonight is whether, in fact, the United States and/or Israel will attack Iran while George W. Bush is still president in the next six months, before a new president comes in? That's what's rattling the oil markets and why, whenever the saber-rattling comes up, whether it's testing by the Israelis, military maneuvers by the Israelis, military maneuvers by the united states, or now today by Iran, whatever that happens, oil prices shoot upward. And it has put pressure on the candidates. What would you do?... there is a sharp difference here between Barack Obama, who would put much more emphasis on diplomacy, on more carrots, if you would, as well as sticks, versus john McCain, who would have fewer carrots and more sticks."

Obama vs. McCain on Iran:

"I think the Jewish community is very, very concerned in this country because this could be what they call an existential threat to Israel. The Jewish community will tell you if Ahmadinejad gets a bomb, he could do in six minutes what it took Hitler six years to do. So it's understandable they're very, very concerned. I think Americans generally are not in a warlike mood. There's been no preparation for this. And for that reason, I think they may be more sympathetic to the Obama position on Iran while on Iraq they're more sympathetic to John McCain."


Reza Aslan
Middle East Analyst
Author, "No god, but God"
AC360° Contributor

On Iran's inent:

"I think they just want to make a statement, and they want to assure that both Israel and the United States understands unequivocally that any kind of military attack on Iranian soil will be met with devastation. I think Iran wants to just flex its muscles. We have to understand that at this point Iran does feel as though it is a bit threatened. It is literally surrounded on all sides by American troops. It sits between Pakistan and Russia, both nuclear nations. And it's learned a pretty valuable lesson from its fellow axis of evil neighbors. One didn't have nuclear weapons and was demolished. The other does have nuclear weapons, and we have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to it to get rid of it. I think Iran feels it's sitting in a pretty comfortable place now."

On Iran's plans

"I think Iran’s got a pretty sophisticated plan here. They're going to have Ahmadinejad talk about the fact that it's impossible for the U.S. Or Israel to even think about attacking while at the same time the commanders of the revolutionary guard are going to make these much more statements about the consequences of such an attack. To be perfectly frank, i think the real issue here is that at the same time we're seeing this acceleration of belligerence on all sides, we're also seeing a much softer tone being taken by, say, the foreign minister of Iran or the supreme leader's chief policy adviser. On the possibility of negotiations with the United States."

On the statement this makes

"I get a feeling from reading the Iranian press, that the overwhelming sentiment there is let's just hold things off as long as we can. We know we can probably get a better deal from the next president, and there's an enormous amount of bush hatred in that country. I think there's a sense that if we can just keep things the way they are, keep the status quo going, we'll have a better chance of negotiations no matter whether it's McCain or Obama."

Filed under: 360° Radar • David Gergen • Reza Aslan
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Cathy

    I am very concerned about this escelation and have to wonder how much of this was provoked by the miss guided US policy in that region. The rush to war in Iraq and the false excuses given to the world may have been understood by American but not the rest of the world.

    I think it is important to note that the new radical regime in Iran was elected by the people of Iran on the heel of what happened in Iraq (unjustified bullying of a soverne nation). Furthermore, the fall of Bagdad created a vacum of power in the region and allowed Iran to flex its muscles and put the US on the edge of another confrontation. I have full confidence the US will win but the point is do we need another war.

    Going forward, how can we make our leaders more accountable for critical policy decisions they make that will effect future generations to come. I think, the media can play a crucial role educating the public and keeping our politicians honest.

    Sometimes I wonder if the war agaist Iran was already planned as another chapter in the ongoing struggle in that region. I say that because I do not think anyone with minimum knowledge of the politics in that region would not have predicted the rise of Iran and the sole regional supper power and the thereat it would present.

    July 10, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  2. Susan


    Israel is growing ever impatient with Iran an its unclear nuclear program. Iran has made several statements about removing Israel from the map and have never moved from that position.

    Israel is not afraid to strike on its own. They have shown that they will do what they have to do to protect their country.


    July 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  3. John Maszka

    Unfortunately, even though the Bush administration is playing down Iran's nuclear capabilities, we can't trust the Bush administration. As former Nixon aide John W. Dean wrote, “George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have created the most secretive presidency of my lifetime. Their secrecy is far worse than during Watergate” (quoted in Wittkopf and Jones, 2008, 329).
    The administration secretly planned and prepared for war without disclosing it to the general public. Planning began in November of 2001 and included upgrading airfields in various Gulf countries, moving supplies to the region and the construction of necessary facilities. By April 2002, the planning and preparation for war was also being hidden from Congress. Bush had instructed General Tommy Franks not to make financial requests through Washington. “Anything you need, you’ll have.” The money would no longer be appropriated through congress. By the end of July 2002, Bush had approved more than thirty projects totaling over $700 million. Congress had no knowledge or involvement (Woodward, 2004, 122).
    In December of 2002, Bush and Rumsfeld agreed to start secretly deploying troops into the theatre so as not to attract the attention of the press or the rest of the world. The first deployment order went out on December 6, 2002 and deployments continued every two weeks or so thereafter. Troops were given less than a week’s notice at times. In January 2003, the Bush administration arranged for much of its humanitarian relief to be disguised as general contributions to conceal its war planning from the NGO recipients. Yet, when asked about Iraq, Bush’s favorite response was “I have no war plans on my desk.” At one point or another after the planning began, nearly every member of the administration publicly denied any plans to go to war with Iraq (Woodward, 2004, 129).

    July 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm |
  4. Saad, Ramsey, NJ

    Not to beat on a dead horse this situation has become more complex due to our Iraq mess-up. I am glad we got rid of Saddam but had we taken a relatively more sensible approach of going with a real coalition rather than the mere abuse of the word, we could have applied the same strategy to Iran.

    Now, our credibility is lower than it has ever been and hardly anyone wants to come on board with us to convince Iran, by force or through diplomacy to stop all this and focus on economic prosperity of their people. We are supposed to be the leaders, not by words but by value-added actions and we have guttered that image. Unfortunately now, there is no one right or wrong answer. I just hope that Iran does not do anything stupid to stir up more problems than in an already problematic world and I hope the same from Israel and us.

    Other than some evil factions, regardless of which country, Iran, Israel, U.S., Pakistan, and all other 226 in the world, general public wants to live in peace. Hope politicians will play the game knowing that fact.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  5. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    In the case of North Korea, the option of military action wasn't very plausible. We were leaft with negotiations as the only reasonable path. Iran does present to option of a surgical strike to just destroy the nuclear facilities, just as Isreal did to Syria and Iraq. The question is will Iran sit back and take that, or retaliate in a much expanded military way. The EU has tried to negotaie for years, and all that has been accomplished is giving time for Iran to get further down the path toward having nukes, and the means to deliver them. Ultimately it won't be our decision, because Isreal won't let Iran get the bomb.

    July 10, 2008 at 10:59 am |
  6. Cindy

    I have to agree with Reza, I think that Iran is just flexing their muscles to show the world that they aren't anything to mess around with. That they do have the capability to defend themselves against an attack. I don't think that they would do anything without provocation though. Because they know that there would be great repercussions for them not only from the U.S. or Israel but from the whole world.


    July 10, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  7. olga in

    hi there ,
    listen USA have to make a decision about Iran we all afraid about them they knowns deep down nothing will happen to them . USA is not longer a super power they knows USA is caught up in campagn so Iran is just doing wherever he wants !
    you want to show the world who is the superpower it is time now let the show begins !!!!!
    Olga from Montreal

    July 10, 2008 at 10:22 am |