Former CIA head urges direct threats on Revolutionary Guard
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Former CIA head urges direct threats on Revolutionary Guard

To keep Tehran from attaining the A-bomb, the US needs to appear ready to obliterate an important part of the regime’s military, James Woolsey demands

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Former CIA head James Woolsey (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/The Times of Israel)
Former CIA head James Woolsey (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/The Times of Israel)

The United States should deploy a massive military force to the Middle East and threaten to wipe out Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to deter Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons, a former top US intelligence official said.

The US does not want to be involved in another ground war, and since air strikes alone are unlikely to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, only the threat of obliterating a key branch of the regime’s army could ensure it does not get its hands on an atomic bomb, according to James Woolsey, who headed the CIA from 1993 to 1995.

Therefore, he said, the US army should send about five aircraft carrier battle groups equipped with modern precise weapons and earth-penetrating armor to the Indian Ocean, in addition to as many supersonic strategic bombers as possible.

“Let it be known, without any announcement at all but indirectly, that what those forces are planning to do, if ordered, is to destroy everything in Iran that is tied to the Revolutionary Guard: the space program, the ballistic missile program, certainly the nuclear program, the Quds [special] force, the training facilities, the resorts – everything that is owned, managed and controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, including the residences of their officials,” Woolsey told The Times of Israel at the sidelines of the Herzliya Conference earlier this month.

Founded after Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 and primarily designed to protect the country’s religious system, the Revolutionary Guards are a vital part of the country’s armed forces. The organization, approximately 125,000 troops strong, is considered a major military and political player in Iran and reportedly has close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

‘Hitler had a two-part plan: kill the Jews and dominate Europe. Iran, I think, has frankly a rather similar two-part plan: kill the Jews and dominate the Middle East’

“It’s the instrument of the oppression of the Iranian people, and of torturing children and all of the hideous things they are doing to maintain control,” Woolsey said. The Revolutionary Guards are universally unpopular among Iranians, most of whom oppose the regime, he added.

Destroying the Revolutionary Guards in light of the Tehran’s race to nuclear capabilities would be comparable to having the Allies destroy everything related to the Gestapo and Hitler’s brown shirts in the 1930s, Woolsey said. Woolsey, who chairs the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank, draws direct parallels between Iran’s leadership and the Nazis.

“Hitler had a two-part plan: kill the Jews and dominate Europe. Iran, I think, has frankly a rather similar two-part plan: kill the Jews and dominate the Middle East,” he said.

“You’d have to be extraordinarily naive about history to ignore the possibility that a country like Iran would be willing to use a nuclear weapon, even if it meant disaster in this world for them. If you are convinced that you are going to make it possible for your entire civilization to go to heaven and everyone you hate to go hell, and all you have to do is use that nuke, it could happen. It’s very irresponsible to sit back in self-delusion and say, we don’t have a problem.”

Asked to assess the probability of Iran attacking Israel with an atomic bomb, he said: “One dies not have to be a dysfunctional raving lunatic in order to want to or try to use nuclear weapon. Some people are sociopaths… They might hate enough that they are willing to see a country or a civilization destroyed.”

Calling a nuclear Iran an “existential” threat for America as well, he said he favored a US military intervention to prevent the regime from attaining such weapons.

“Although I’d understand – and stand on the bylines and cheer – if Israel decides to do something decisive about Iran, I don’t think in the vast scheme of things it is fair for the United States to palm this problem off on Israel,” he said. “This is a world problem and much of the politics of the world changes if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. It’s our responsibility to see to it that that doesn’t happen.”

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