Retired US general warns of escalation risks after Iranian-backed attack

'Wolf, it’s hard to know, but we know that Iran trains, equips and funds these militias,' McKenzie replied. 'It’s likely they provided some form of intelligence and targeting information. Whether they knew about the exact sequence of this attack is not from — I don’t know the answer to that, but they are certainly morally responsible for this attack.'

Retired US general warns of escalation risks after Iranian-backed attack
Iranian Army via AP
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Retired General Kenneth Frank McKenzie, previously the chief of U.S. Military Central Command and having served under Presidents Trump and Biden, asserted on Monday that following the death of three U.S. soldiers by Iranian-supported groups, the United States should “get comfortable with the fact that there can be escalation associated with this.”

Speaking on CNN with host Wolf Blitzer, Blizter commented, “As you know, the U.S. says Iran-backed militias are behind this deadly attack. To what extent do you believe Iran itself was directly involved?”

“Wolf, it’s hard to know, but we know that Iran trains, equips and funds these militias,” McKenzie replied. “It’s likely they provided some form of intelligence and targeting information. Whether they knew about the exact sequence of this attack is not from — I don’t know the answer to that, but they are certainly morally responsible for this attack.”

“You were head of the Middle East operations, the U.S. military’s Central Command, as it’s called, under both Presidents Biden and Trump,” Blitzer noted. “How would you advise this administration to respond now to this attack without sparking a much broader war?”

“Well, I think we begin by realizing, Wolf, that if we want to prevent escalation, we need to leave the theater,” McKenzie responded. “If our primary goal is to not have something escalate, we need to get out. That’s obviously not our primary goal. So, we need to get comfortable with the fact that there can be escalation associated with this.”

“The next thing I would say, as Secretary Blinken’s words are very strong, very forceful, very on point,” he added. “We need to match them with action. And we have not done so over the course of the 150 attacks or so that have preceded this lethal attack and the loss of these three brave Americans.”

“The U.S. has been striking targets in Iraq and Yemen, as you well know, General, to deter Iran-backed groups, but to no avail at least so far,” Blitzer asserted. “Is it even possible for the U.S. to neutralize all these threats?”

McKenzie then expressed the view that effectively addressing these threats would involve focusing on the leadership in Iran, stating: “It’s not possible for us to neutralize all these threats, Wolf, but it is possible, I think, for us to go to the source of these threats, and that would be Iran, who actually, ultimately, at least philosophically, directs what they do. And I think we should consider ways that we might put increased pressure on Iran, the very source of all these problems, rather than engage in endless tactical-level tit-for-tat operations across the region.”

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