• America’s Next Top General Has Already Made His Thoughts Known On Iran’s Future

    Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made some tough comments regarding Iran during a Thursday hearing in front of Congress, saying the country would remain a “malign” force working to sabotage U.S. interests even if a final agreement is reached on the country’s nuclear program.

    If confirmed, Dunford, currently the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, will be the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military. Even before landing the post, however, his remarks at the hearing, as well as the 75 pages of pre-prepared answers he supplied to possible questions, are full of tactfully warnings to the Obama administration not to ease up pressure on Iran.

    Dunford’s comments come as the United States is trying to hammer out a final deal with Iran over its nuclear program. Any finalized deal is likely to involve removing sanctions that have frozen billions of dollars in Iranian overseas assets — the so-called “signing bonus.”

    Dunford said those assets, even if not used for nuclear purposes, could easily be directed towards causes harmful to the U.S.

    “I think it’s reasonable to assume that,” Dunford said when asked about the matter by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton. Iran’s possible actions could include supporting militia fighters in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, and generally working to exacerbate the split between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

    Dunford’s warning supports the feelings expressed by Iran’s own allies. The head of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah predicted earlier this year that an Iran freed of its cash constraints would be able to support its allies abroad “more than in any time in the past.”

    Should a deal fall through, Dunford warned, the situation will be even worse, as Iran would immediately become a massively destabilizing influence on the Middle East.

    Prior to the rise of the Islamic State in 2014, Obama was attempting to execute a military “pivot,” with U.S. forces shifting out of the Middle East towards Asia. In his comments, Dunford warned that any decrease in Middle Eastern presence invites an expansion of Iranian power.

    “Reducing our presence in the Middle East could leave space for Iran to pursue its hegemonic goals,” he warned. “U.S. military presence gives credibility to the military options in the Middle East … and deters Iran from employing its large conventional army or ballistic missiles and from interdicting the Strait of Hormuz. Nothing we say can match the message we deliver with our military presence or lack thereof.”

    Dunford also set a confrontational tone towards Russia, saying it would be a “reasonable” tactic to give arms to Ukrainians forces battling a Russia-backed insurgency. (RELATED: Marine Commandant: Forget ISIS, Russia Is Greatest Threat To National Security)

    Dunford described Russia as America’s number-one overseas threat, followed by China, North Korea, and the Islamic State.

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