Our Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was asked by a journalist, “What is the U.S. goal with respect to Iran?” And here’s what he said: “Our goal is to push Iran to act like a normal country.” He said, “Don’t support terrorism, don’t launch missiles into international airports, and don’t be the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. We’re asking them to do the things that normal nations in the international community should do.” That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet today, Iran, through its terrorists on the Quds Force, continues to support terrorism and destabilize not only its neighbors but the entire region, and that’s not normal behavior. And I firmly believe that no government that actively imports and exports terror can be a productive player in the world today. Change must come to Iran.
And I said, direct experience here from our time in Iraq, many of us in the U.S. military have seen firsthand how Iran uses terrorism to accomplish its political objectives. And as coalition commander, I certainly saw that in Iraq when the regime used terrorism to sectarian violence and to frustrate the goals of the United States and Iraqis to establish a representative democracy.
They fostered sectarian violence by providing training and equipment to the Shia militia organizations. And I firmly believe that Iran bears responsibility because their training and equipping of the Iraqi militia groups was a major factor in sustaining the sectarian violence that swept Iraq in 2006 and 2007. And to me, that makes Iran directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of coalition forces and thousands of Iraqis.
As I look back on that now — I say that was 12 years ago — and today, they are still destabilizing the region.
I can only come to one conclusion — that change must come to Iran before Iran can behave as a normal country.
• Retired U.S. Army Gen. George Casey served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq.
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