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Former CIA Director James Woolsey : 'There May Be No Alternative To Military Strikes Against Iran's Nuclear Facilities'

'How Can Israel Possibly Reach A Deal With Hamas With Hamas Which Seeks To Destroy Jewish State'

former CIA Director James Woolsey

On a visit to Israel, a former CIA Director James Woolsey warned that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapon and if need be a military operation should be mounted to prevent it. Interviewed on Channel One television Woolsey ruled out any possibility of a peace deal with the Palestinians as long as Hamas was in the government.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey says the U.S. cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Woolsey admits it would be a terrible thing to use force against Iran but even worse to let Tehran get the bomb.

James Woolsey Interviewed by Channel 1 Yaakov Ahimeir

The former CIA chief declared there might be no alternative to attacking Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. It would not be a single strike such as Israel's raid that destroyed Saddam's Hussein's nuclear reactor in Iraq back in 1981. Woolsey described that as a ' courageous and creative' operation. At the time. Israel was condemned world wide but later credited with preventing the Iraqi tyrant from getting the bomb.

In a public address this week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned : ' The Jewish people, whose body is seared with the scars of the Holocaust, cannot tolerate a new threat to its existence. Whoever threatens our existence should be aware of our full right to self - defense.'

As for the Palestinian issue, Woolsey saw no prospect of a peace deal as long as Hamas was in the Palestinian government. The former CIA chief said: ' How in the world can you reach an agreement with someone who wants to destroy you!'

Interview with Former CIA Director James Woolsey

(Interviewer: Yaakov Ahimeir, Channel One television)

Q : What should be the response of your country, the United States?

A: I agree with Senator John McCain, that we cannot let this happen. A terrible thing would be if we had to use force, but there is one thing that is worse, and that is letting the Iranians have a nuclear weapon.

Q: Do you feel, Mr. Woolsey, that the U.S. can open a so called "second front" in the Middle East, according to the advice of Senator McCain?

A: I don't think we want to, and I don't think we would do it except in extremis, but there may be no alternative other than Iran developing and having nuclear weapons, and I just don't think that is acceptable.

Q: Do you think that the American public opinion can absorb a so called "second front" in the Middle East, vis-а-vis the situation that you are describing to us in Iran?

A: Some in the United States understand and some don't, that there are already many fronts in this war. There is the Israeli-Palestinian front, there is the Iraq front, there is the Iranian nuclear weapons development front, there is the totalitarian Jihadi front, of the type of instruction that the Saudis help the Wahhabis pay for in Madrasas in the West Bank and Pakistan and in Mosques in the United States. There are many fronts in this war of the West against essentially Islamist totalitarianism, Sunni front, Shia front, two Sunni fronts in a way. There are many.

Q: What will be the impact on the whole area, on the whole region, and maybe a spillover in Europe of this kind of war against Iran, in your assessment?

A: I don't know what kind of action would be taken against Iran that anyone would plan, but it is not a simple an operation as what Israel was faced with when it took out the Osirak reactor of Iraq back at the beginning of the eighties. That was a very courageous and creative military operation, but it was only one reactor that had to be targeted. If one had to take out the Iranian nuclear program it would require sustained air campaign, over, I think, a long period of time and certainly not just a single strike.

Q: How do you assess the strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States vis-а-vis the so called Iranian problem?

A: I am not privy to any of the internal government communications, so the short answer is I don't know, but I think it probably is good but could be better. The Persians invented chess, and if you look at this as a game, from their point of view - a lethal one - their Queen, their most lethal and valuable piece is their nuclear weapons program. And then they have other pieces they move around, Syria probably rises to the level of a Rook, but Hezbollah, Hamas, Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq are pawns perhaps, they move them when they feel they need to, and they regard this all as one war. We should too. We should understand that what happened in Southern Lebanon last summer with the kidnapping of the Israeli troops and the war there is not something that from the Iranian's point of view is isolated from what they are trying to do with Muqtada al-Sadr's forces in Iraq. It is not isolated from their use of their nuclear weapons program to intimidate the Sunnis and to try to intimidate us. These things are all pulled together, I think, in the Iranian's minds anyway, even if they are not in ours.

Q: My last question Mr. Woolsey, what would you advise the decision makers here in Jerusalem?

A: I wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal some months ago, when it looked as if the West Bank was about to be given back, saying that the history of what has happened in Southern Lebanon and in Gaza does not suggest to me that that is a reasonable course of action. Some day I think we could all hope that there could be a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, based on some Palestinian state with borders, including much of the West Bank and so on, but I don't think that is going to happen as long as the Saudis are funding the Madrasas in the West Bank or little Palestinian children are being taught to be suicide bombers, as long as Hamas is a part of the government. I just think there is no reasonable prospect for negotiated settlement under those circumstances. Perhaps some day. But I think the United States would be wrong to lean on Israel now to make concessions, the Palestinian authority, most of it and certainly Hamas, when they talk about occupation they are not talking about part of the West Bank. They are talking about Tel Aviv. They want to destroy Israel. And I think we and Israel together have to stand very firmly against any group on the other side that has that objective and whose tactics move toward that objective.

Q: It's not an era for a compromise, of a political settlement between us and the Palestinians, according to your assessment.

A: I think in the near term, as long as Hamas is part of anything, such a settlement is a fanciful proposition. How in the world can you work a settlement with someone who wants to destroy you? If some of the people who are in the Palestinian authority are able to take charge, and some years pass and there is a sincere effort on their part, as I think there was not under Arafat in the Gaza process, but if there is a sincere effort in a few years, then it is imaginable that something might be worked out. But with people who want to destroy you - how can you strike a deal with them?

Transcript by Dar Translations


David Essing

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