This interview appears in the August 26, 2005 issue of Executive
Interview: Gen. Paul Vallely (ret.)
'We've Got To Bring the Hammer Down on Iran'
Retired Army general Vallely is currently the head of the Military Committee
of Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and a member of the Iran
Policy Committee, a gaggle of neo-conservatives formed to promote war and
rebellion in Iran. He was interviewed by telephone on Aug. 15 by Bill Jones.
In an earlier conversation, Vallely had told Jones that he knew that Osama
bin Laden was in Iran, and that Ken Timmerman (author of Countdown to
Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran), had learned from Iranian
dissidents in Europe that Iran already had nuclear weapons. "All roads lead
to Teheran," Vallely said.
EIR: I wanted to ask you a few more questions on this whole Iran scenario.
You indicated that, if push came to shove, and some military action were to
be taken, you would recommend a naval blockade of the Strait of Hormuz?
Vallely: Yes, the Strait of Hormuz is the chokepoint for going in and out of
Iran by sea—oil, imports, whatever, has to go through there. And it would be
the most feasible option, if we went that route. It would be that, because
then you can basically allow all ships to go in and out except Iranian
ships. That would provoke—obviously some kind of a reaction. And the other
down side is, of course, whether the Iranian people who would like to see
the mullahs go, would put then any kind of a force majeure [extraordinary
circumstance] there that would be supportive of that, and not create a lot
of negatives. But someone has got to deal with this Iranian issue. Because
they're absolutely convinced that they can do anything they want to,
including the continued support of terrorism, and nobody's going to do
anything about it.
We know the Europeans won't do anything about it. Like I told a couple of
groups, I think we're probably going to find for the third time in the last
hundred years that we're going to have to bail the French out again, because
they don't get it. Britain now gets it. When I was up on the Lebanese border
in March of this year, it was apparent, the sightings of Iranians in uniform
with the Hezbollah, on patrol. And of course they control and feed the
Hezbollah as the grown child of Iran, that it has been.
EIR: And what period of time was this? Before or after the withdrawal of the
Vallely: Well, of course when I was there a lot of these things were
occurring at that time, including the problems they were having in Beirut.
But certainly we know that the only border in the world that is controlled
by a terrorist organization is the Lebanese-Israeli border. That's
completely controlled by Hezbollah. They've been able to very successfully
infiltrate all of the towns and villages in southern Lebanon; they do it by
buying the people off, of course. They give them food. They give them money.
And of course all that money comes from Iran. Hezbollah is the most potent
force in that area, as far as Lebanon is concerned. And I get a lot of
intelligence out of Beirut through a couple of Lebanese sources.
So here you've got the situation now with the disengagement from Gaza going
on, and we know, we're going to see it anyhow, that's going to become a very
large terrorist camp. Hamas is going to control it, not the Palestinian
Authority. Hamas is directly supported by Hezbollah. So you have this nexus
of terror, that is connected and fueled by Iran and their surrogate, Syria.
So what do you do? Nobody can figure where the hell the Administration is
going on any of this.
EIR: Maybe they haven't figured it out either?
Vallely: They can't seem to figure any strategy out. I had dinner last night
with the Speaker of the House—Denny Hastert was out here last night, and
Congressman Dennis Rehberg—we had a fundraiser for him. So I had dinner with
eight congressmen, and these were all conservative Republicans, and nobody
can figure out where in the hell this Administration is going strategically.
There's no Iranian policy, there's no Greater Middle East Policy that's
articulated. It's the same rhetoric. So that I'm finding more and more
conservative Republicans are trying to figure out, is Bush acting more like
his father every day, or what's going on? So it's a real dilemma. I just
sense a lot of frustration.
EIR: Unless they do something that they're not telling anybody yet?
Vallely: Well, that's what everybody keeps saying, but there's never any
action. I mean, you know, Powell went in to Damascus and laid down things,
but there's never any follow-up, never any action taken. And certainly it
appears that Condoleezza Rice has hit a wall like Colin Powell did. There's
no strong diplomatic effort that we have. Condoleezza Rice goes up and meets
with Abbas over there, who's certainly not in any control; Hamas is
controlling, not the Palestinian Authority. And she comes out of there
again. and then we send conflicting signals to Israel, continually. And
Israel is not in good shape over there, politically, as you know, because of
But I do know the Israelis have completed the targetting, for the targets in
Iran. And they're prepared to do something. Now, whether they will or not is
another question. They know they're the primary target of Iran. And you can
see this whole disengagement thing, if it starts going south, and Gaza
becomes the terrorist territory, with direct port entry, and entry from the
Philadelphia line, the sector between Egypt and Gaza. Now you have clear
paths coming in from the sea and from Egypt, and Hamas and Hezbollah, and
Iran, of course, will take full advantage of that. You know if we had some
clear, strong diplomatic efforts—I see nothing coming out of the State
Department. Do you? You're there, but I can see they are doing nothing there
that is either aggressive, or dealing with strength.
EIR: Well, I'm sure they're very divided on this issue. I don't know exactly
what the internal debates are.
Vallely: Well that's where good strong leadership comes in. Who's the
President and who's not? If I'm the President, I can have these debates,
that's fine, but sometimes I've got to make decisions, and go forth. But I
don't see any decisions coming out. And the attack dogs are always out there
on the Democratic side. But there are no attack dogs any more on the
Republican side. They've sort of silenced DeLay for a while here. And you
find no attack dogs in the Senate or Congress any more. So to me, I'm
sitting out here in Montana, and I see a weak Congress, I see a weak State
Department. I see the the CIA trying to get on track. We don't even have any
good agent intelligence coming out of the Middle East.
EIR: That's been a problem for a long time now.
Vallely: You know, I've got better intelligence coming out of the Middle
East. I've got a guy from the Department of Defense that is assigned to me
now, an intelligence guy, to process all the information that I'm getting
directly out of the Middle East, including the sighting of bin Laden back in
November, last year. So, I don't know.
EIR: Now tell me about the options with Iran. You say the Israelis have
targetted sites in Iran. There is also talk that the U.S. has also done its
own targetting as well.
Vallely: Yes, it has, it's done 81 targets, it's already been done.
EIR: OK. But tell me what do you do with it? Anything they have of
importance is obviously buried very deeply. And even some of my Israeli
contacts will tell me, "You can't do like Osirak on the Iranian facilities,
you won't get to anything important." The facilities are buried much to deep
to do that.
Vallely: Well, that's not true. Let's say you do designated strikes against
the hardened facilities they have—just the psychological impact of laying
down some JDAMs [Joint Direct Attack Munition—free-fall bombs fitted with a
guidance system and tail kit] on those sites. You can dig down five or six
stories, but I can still close you up. I can block you off. I can get down
two or three stories; there's a lot of weapons systems that can close these
sites down. You can go ten stories and I still can close you down. The
hardened sites don't worry me.
EIR: You're saying you can close them down, and they can't get out.
Vallely: Yeah, there's lots of ways [laughs], you know with a bunker buster,
which we've given to Israel, we've delivered those all. They got brand new
F-16s that are fully loaded, that we gave them or sold to them.
The Iranians are very smart. And this is where it all started. It was when
Carter was so weak, when Khomeini took over, took over our embassy, our weak
response there. So, if you go back to the late '70s, Iran has been the
pivotal state, along with Saudi Arabia, in fronting a lot of this. And the
Saudis will do nothing about the Wahabis, the preachers of hate. Kuwait's
made some moves in that area. They won't allow this preaching anymore.
They've made some progress.
The other thing we're working on now is the nuclear deterrence strategy
against radical Islam, much like we had in the Cold War, where we told the
Russians, you know, you launch once, and ten of your cities are gone. OK.
Somehow we've got to tell radical Islam, that any indication of one nuclear
weapon coming into the United States, and Mecca and Medina become sand.
There'll never be another hajj. And they have to have one completed hajj
over their lifetime [laughs]. Not that we would do it, but the fact is you
have to put the fear of God in them. It's the only thing they understand.
Did you read Ken Timmerman's new book?
EIR: I sure did. It's all over the place. Everybody's reading it.
Vallely: Yeah, and Ken and I have been on together, and Ken has his
information from different sources than I had. So the question is, what do
responsible nations do? We cannot let radical Islam and the Iranians
destabilize the Middle East and the world. We just can't do that. They can't
continue to destabilize what's going on. So the question is, who has the
balls enough to do anything? And there's diplomatic things you can do.
Sanctions don't work in the Middle East. That's a farce! We put sanctions on
Syria. Hell, they have cash, you can buy anything in the Middle East if you
have cash. So sanctions don't mean anything.
EIR: It was also the stance of the Iran Policy Committee that you would try
to encourage popular revolt within the country. And obviously there's a lot
of discontent with the mullahs. But it seems to me you're dealing with the
Shi'a here, you're dealing with a very sensitive type of nationalism which
is going to be aroused by this. Even the people who are opposed to the
mullahs give their full support to their right as a nation to develop the
full nuclear cycle for their energy production.
Vallely: Look, we know the North Koreans were involved with the Iranians. We
knew A.Q. Khan in Pakistan was involved with them. We knew about the
Libyans. It's all connected. You know, it's not so hard to figure out. It
really isn't. And everybody wants to make this so complicated. You change
the regime in Iran, you change the whole Middle East. All those other things
will tend to fall apart very quickly if they don't have Iranian support. So
the question is, how do you do it? You can't depend on the Europeans for
anything. I don't even worry about the Europeans. I told the Israelis the
same thing: "Don't worry about the damned Europeans. You do what you have to
Dore Gold and I worked on a strategy called Defensible Borders, a paper
which we put out. That's a good one to read, by the way. It shows how Israel
has the right to defend its borders, like anybody else. But I think the
downside is, and I think even Sharon knows deep in his mind, that if this
thing goes south in Gaza, like we think it will, then they [Israel] will go
for a complete occupation of the West Bank and Gaza until every terrorist
organization is put out of business. That's the only solution there. And
we'll have to see what happens. But I know the Israelis are prepared to take
very decisive action militarily, if we see this rise in terrorism there. We
have even reports of al-Qaeda being in Gaza now. A report came in, they have
cells working in Gaza now with Hamas, as they have been given sanctuary in
EIR: A pretty hairy situation, it seems.
Vallely: Yeah, and at some point in time you've got to bring down the
hammer. If not, we're going to be under this continued terrorism threat. Did
you read my book Endgame?
EIR: I just paged quickly through it.
Vallely: Well, read it again. Everything we said in there two years ago is
coming true. It all comes back to Iran. And you're never going to solve the
Israeli-Palestinian problem until you solve the larger Middle East
EIR: There has been some talk of using tactical nuclear weapons to get at
some of these sites.
Vallely: Yeah, that option's there.
EIR: Would that be effective in terms of closing them down? And secondly,
would people accept—
Vallely: The fact that you irradiate the area, so there's no access—it's the
same thing with irradiating Mecca and Medina. But if they're threatening,
which we know, to bring nuclear weapons into this country—we know that's
their ultimate goal, simultaneous detonations in New York, Washington, and
maybe Chicago or Los Angeles. Just think of what one nuclear, small 20
kiloton weapon would do in Manhattan.
EIR: But what do you think the reaction would be if we used any type of
nuclear devices, without having been provoked by their doing something
Vallely: Well, that's why we're thinking the naval thing will really push
them to do something stupid. And we hope they do. And then bring the hammer
down on them. We know they're going to use them against us. There's nothing
wrong with pre-emption.
EIR: But you're dealing with public opinion here. You know there's going to
be an outcry over this.
Vallely: That'll happen no matter what you do. So Bush has nothing to lose.
Do what he needs to do. American wants leadership. You're always going to
have the anti-whatever-whatever. The other key thing is, what I keep telling
audiences, that you can't drag wars out. If you go to war, it's gotta be
decisive, it's gotta have finality, and it's gotta be done as quickly as
possible. If not, the piranha will eat you alive. And that's what happened
in Vietnam. We didn't, in Korea, with finality. And so we still have troops
The only finality we've seen is with Japan. That was finality.
Patton said, "Don't let the Russians take Berlin." We let that happen, and
look what we had: the Cold War, and what they did in the aftermath of World
But we just don't seem to have men of wisdom and strategic vision anymore,
that understand. It's like Bush. The biggest mistake that he made, and I
said it, at the time I was briefed on the post-Saddam period: We ended up
putting in the Coalition Provisional Authority under Jerry Bremer, and that
created the problems we have today. And I've had that validated many, many
times and by many senior military commanders as well as the Iraqis. We
basically ended up putting a State Department organization in charge of a
At any rate, now we're trying to recover, rather than putting in an interim
government that we recommended they do, just like we did in Afghanistan.
Bring the army back immediately. Get them on the payroll. Don't create these
big bases and the Green Zone, and do all that stuff. I mean, you ought to
see it over there in Iraq. It's like a big commissary, big PX's. You got to
strike hard, fast, get it over with, bring the enemy to their knees as
quickly as possible. You can't drag wars out. We're already beyond the time
that we took out Hitler, which was three years and eight, nine months—we
took out the Japanese and the Germans. We're now over that.
EIR: And we seem to be stuck there.
Vallely: We won't lay the hammer down on Syria. We know the Baathists. We
know they're living up in the Aleppo area of Syria. We know the funding. We
know the Damascus pipeline coming out of Russia, through Ukraine and Belarus
into Damascus. So they're being fed weapons systems and things coming
through that pipeline. And then you've got the pipeline from Iran, working
into Lebanon and Syria. And all we hear is rhetoric.
Hey, listen, over a year and a half ago, I would have sent some strong
signals into Syria. I'd have taken out ten of the offices in Damascus plus
two of the training sites where we know they are, and at 2:00 o'clock in the
morning, those things disappear. And at 6:00 o'clock in the morning we have
plausible deniability [laughs].
EIR: Well, Bush does sometimes tend to follow in the footsteps of his
father, although sometimes he might have indicated some sort of "gumption"?
Vallely: Yes, he has.
EIR: But what about Vice President Cheney?
Vallely: Yeah, where the hell is he at? He ought to be the attack dog. Keep
him in the damned closet over there in the West Wing somewhere. I'd make
Cheney the attack dog every day! [laughs] You, know, I can't figure it out.
Bush has nothing to lose. Nothing to lose. And he won't do anything stupid.
But you've got to be aggressive, and if you don't bring these few nations
that are causing these problems, supporting terrorism, to task, it's going
to just continue and continue and continue. And that's why the Iranians—they
know in their own mind that they're not going to do anything. That's why
they're being the way they are. They're not dumb.
EIR: The statements they were making yesterday were very tough.
Vallely: You see, you do what you have to do. You don't worry about world
opinion, because they're on to the next story in another two weeks, no
matter what you do. That's why I told the Israelis, "Do what you have to do
to protect yourself. Quit listening to our State Department."
EIR: We'll see what happens now with the Iranian President coming to address
the UN, if they allow him to come, that is.
Vallely: Oh, what a farce that is! Do you believe that? The enemy coming
into our camp.
 President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; he was the 11th
Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. He has written a
book, Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism,
in which he maintains that the ideology prompting Islamic terrorists is
rooted deeply in Saudi Arabian history. He claims that Saudi Arabia has
become one of the main areas of refuge for al-Qaeda, in addition to the
Pakistani-Afghanistan border, and the Iraqi-Iranian border.