General Curtis LeMay was a tough, often brilliant, pugnacious deployer of air power -- organizing the debilitating and destructive carpet bombing campaigns of Japan and later viewed by many as being a bit too trigger happy when it came to using nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Curtis LeMay as metaphor captures the likes of John Bolton, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Max Boot, Joshua Muravchik, Liz Cheney, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, and others who seem unable to resist hatching the next military conflict rather than thinking through first how to resuscitate American power in a turbulent world doubtful of America's abilities and designs. Most of these voices think we should have already bombed Iran -- or think we should have allowed Israel to prick the Iranians thus "tying our hands" and forcing America into yet another power-paralyzing quagmire.
Like many, I was surprised to see former National Security Agency Director and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden, now at the Chertoff Group, quoted as saying that a war with Iran was "inexorable."
Although he has his share of critics, this blogger has always found Hayden to be steady and balanced, a results-oriented pragmatist unaffected by the ideological currents that overwhelmed many in the Bush administration. He had a rough time in the debate over torture -- but as a serious national security strategist, Hayden is not one to carelessly suggest that America ought to put "bombing Iran" higher on its 'to do list'. Or so I thought.
His comments were surprising -- and thankfully, misquoted.
This in from the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - In a July 25 story, The Associated Press reported that former CIA Director Michael Hayden told CNN's "State of the Union" that U.S. military action against Iran now "seems inexorable." A spokeswoman for Hayden responded that he made his reference to Iran's push toward acquiring a nuclear program and not to military action.
So, we at The Washington Note move retired USAF General Michael Hayden out of the "Curtis LeMay Today List" that we are beginning to compile -- and back on to the roster of reasonably sensible strategists.