The Washington Times
The Washington think tank overseen by President Obama's defense secretary-designate predicts that Iran one day will be a "natural partner" for the United States and could possess nuclear weapons.
It also puts the onus on Israel to make peace with Palestinians, many of whom are governed by Hamas, an Iran-backed terrorist group bent on the destruction of the Jewish state.
The views are contained in a major policy paper by the Atlantic Council, for which former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska serves as chairman. The paper shows the foreign policy culture from which Mr. Hagel emerges to face Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearings.
The paper also may explain the underpinnings for Mr. Hagel's dovish views on Iran for which he will receive close scrutiny by fellow Republicans.
Mr. Obama on Monday presented Mr. Hagel as the nominee to replace Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. Mr. Hagel has taken a far less hawkish stance than Mr. Panetta, who has vowed that Tehran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and talks of a military option to stop the regime.
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday approved of Mr. Hagel's nomination, saying it hopes his appointment as Pentagon chief would improve relations between the US and the Islamic republic.
Mr. Hagel upbraided President George W. Bush for not offering unconditional talks with Iran's hard-line Islamic leaders. He does not emphasize a military option to counter Iran's nuclear program, and he has suggested that Iran one day will own atomic weapons.
In December, the Atlantic Council issued the major position paper -- part advice to Mr. Obama in his second term, part vision for the world in the next 17 years.
Mr. Hagel did not write "Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World," but it corresponds with his and the Atlantic Council's efforts to seek global cooperation, not confrontation.
The paper predicts that Iranian hard-liners will be unable to insulate the population from democratic movements in Egypt, Tunisia and other neighboring states.
"It is difficult to envision an already globalized Iranian public not being inspired by regional examples of popular democratic governance," the Atlantic Council says. "For US strategy, Iran should be viewed as a potential natural partner in the region...A post-mullah dominated government shedding Shia [Muslim] ideology could easily return to being a net contributor to stability by 2030."
Iran brutally put down protesters who contested the fairness of the 2009 election that kept in power President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who also has called for the destruction of Israel.
Arguing for a smaller US nuclear arsenal, the Atlantic Council paper says that Iran one day may achieve nuclear weapon status.
"To deter and if necessary to defeat micronuclear powers such as North Korea, or Iran if it does cross the nuclear threshold, numbers substantially lower than those of the current US nuclear arsenal may be possible," the paper says.
On a pessimistic note, it says: "Iran's nuclear ambitions are proving to be a difficult test for the already fraying nuclear non-proliferation regime."
Mr. Hagel has urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, a US-designated terrorist group that governs the Gaza Strip and has launched rockets into Israel as recently as November before Egypt brokered a cease-fire. He was one of 12 senators who declined to sign a letter to the European Union asking it to designate as terrorists the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, another Israeli foe funded and armed by Iran.
The Atlantic Council paper puts pressure on Israel to make peace. A word search of the document did not produce a reference to Hamas.
"The US will need to persuade its Israeli ally to recognize that the changing strategic calculus in the region will require Tel Aviv to make peace with its Arab neighbors to have a secure future as a democratic, Jewish state," the document states. "However, the United States would be wise to also develop a contingency strategy that takes into account a possible scenario where the Israel-Palestinian issue remains unresolved to 2030 and the impact of such a reality on the US role in the region."
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/08/2013
Editor's Note: The idea that somehow the Green Movement in Iran would not be brutally put down once again without outside alliances -- both financially and physically -- is naive folly. If Mr. Hagel truly believes these numbingly illogical conclusions about relations within and with the Middle East then he and his policies are antithetical to the position of Secretary of Defense. While we honor his service in the military, he is about as far from a "hawk" as one can be...and logic mandates that a Defense Secretary be a hawk, not a politician and certainly not an ideologically driven politician. Hagel is, today, a politician. That he refuses to understand the threat that Iran – and through them Hezbollah – poses to not only the West but the US specifically, says volumes. POTUS should want someone in the position of Defense Secretary who has the intellectual clarity to understand Patton's philosophy on war; someone dedicated to total and unconditional victory with prejudice and someone who jealously guards not only the soldiers in his command, but the training they receive as well as their stature in the world's eye. We do not feel Hagel satisfies any of these but for admiration of US soldiers. And, today, we question Mr. Obama's dedication to the goal of having the world's most potent military...
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