Fallon: Use diplomatic caution with Iran

Jan. 30, 2007 at 2:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- If U.S. Senate Democrats hope Adm. William Fallon will flex the same diplomatic muscles with Iran that he did with China, they may be disappointed.

Fallon, the U.S. Pacific Command chief nominated to take over the U.S. Central Command, said during his nomination hearing Tuesday he would like to play a supporting diplomatic role around the region but the situation with Iran is quite different than the one he inherited with China.

"I believe there are some significant differences just right off the bat than the situation I encountered in China, first and foremost the extent to which relationship between the U.S. and China had developed on many fronts prior to my arrival," he said. "My understanding from this vantage point ... is that we are not at that level (with Iran). There is activity that's occurred on part of Iranian government that has been seen by the international community (about Iran) as not only not helpful in the region but in the world, particularly in regard to the potential to develop nuclear weapons."

The Iraq Study Group recommended a major diplomatic offensive to try to draw Iran and Syria into abandoning their "unhelpful" actions regarding Iraq. It was a proposal Democrats and even some Republicans in the Senate rallied around but that the White House flatly rejected.

Fallon said he "philosophically" favors engagement over shunning.

"The extent that we can understand better the thoughts and action of others reduces substantially the danger of miscalculation. I strongly endorse that approach. In the Iranian situation I've got to get a better assessment of where we stand. I wouldn't exclude it.

"I believe we have to be cautious and careful in our approach to this country, and then work with colleagues in the State Department to find out the best way forward."

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