(CNSNews.com) – The former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency delivered a stinging critique of the Obama administration’s Mideast policies on Wednesday, slamming its refusal to define the enemy as Islamic extremism, arguing that its approach towards Iran amounts to “wishful thinking,” and saying the U.S. has lost the trust of its allies in the region.
In oral and written testimony on Capitol Hill, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said he believes Iran has every intention of building a nuclear weapon, and warned that the ripple effects of that outcome would shift the global balance of power.
The hearing of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa focused on Iran’s ballistic missile program – an issue left off the agenda in the nuclear talks – but Flynn cast his net wider.
In a set of broad policy recommendations for the region, Flynn criticized the administration’s reluctance to name the enemy.
“Clearly define and recognize that we face a very radicalized element in the likes of Islamic extremism, Sunni and Shi’a,” he said. “The administration’s refusal to state what we can plainly see is beyond irresponsible and ranges on being dangerous for the long-term security of the United States.”
Flynn, who served at the helm of the DIA from Jul. 2012-Aug. 2014, said the emerging nuclear deal with Iran “suffers from severe deficiencies,” and charged that the agreement was “not a permanent fix, but merely a placeholder.”
“A 10-year timeframe [for some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities] only makes sense if the administration truly believes the Iranian regime will change its strategic course,” Flynn said. “Just as the spiraling-down of the entire region is unlikely to change, believing Iran will change its strategic course is also wishful thinking.”
“Iran has every intention to build an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and a nuclear weapons program.”
“They have stated it many times,” he elaborated in written testimony. “They have attempted well over a decade to move rapidly to nuclearizing its capability, and their [uranium] enrichment to 20 percent and their rapid move to develop a ballistic missile program, are examples of their continued preparedness to weaponize a missile for nuclear delivery.”
Outlining weaknesses in the deal, as he saw them, Flynn cited the restrictions Iran is placing on inspectors’ access to its sites.
“The ability to have real ‘eyes on’ the state of Iranian nuclear development, to include their missile program, is nearly impossible.”
Flynn said the P5+1 group – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – had in pursuit of reaching a deal “glossed over” military dimensions of the nuclear program, including warhead miniaturization efforts.
He questioned the administration’s contention that suspended sanctions could be quickly reinstated if Iran cheated – so-called sanctions “snapback” – calling the notion “fiction.”
“I believe that Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” he said.
“I believe that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”
In his testimony Flynn questioned the nature of the regime with which the P5+1 is negotiating, declaring that its “stated desire to destroy Israel is very real,” and noting that Iran had “killed or maimed thousands of Americans and Iraqis during our fight in Iraq during the period of 2003 to 2011.”
The consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran would be far-reaching, in his view.
Flynn foresaw other countries pursuing nuclear weapons programs, and an uncontainable “struggle of religious and deadly proportions” between Arabs and Persians, Sunni and Shi’a atop half the world’s oil and gas resources, and astride some of its most vital shipping lanes.
Russia may turn out to be “the real winner in the global shift in power as ally to both Iran and the only port for a listing Arab world desperately seeking military assistance,” he said.
In his concluding remarks, Flynn recalled the recent Camp David summit of President Obama and leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council, which the Saudi king chose not to attend.
“The rest of the region has lost trust and faith in the United States of America,” he said, “and that’s very real.”