Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served under President Carter, said the United States has to make clear to Israel that an Israeli attack on Iran is not in U.S. interests.
"We don't need to go to war,” he said in an interview on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, according to a transcript. “And we have to make that very clear to our Israeli friends. We're not going to go to war. They're not going to go to war by flying over our airspace over Iraq. We're not going to support them. If they do it, they will be on their own. The consequences will be theirs, because the price we'll all pay if they start a massive war, which the Iranians interpret as being done with our connivance, will be disastrous for us in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the terms of oil, stability in the Middle East more generally."
As tension mounts between the U.S. and its allies and Iran over the country’s nuclear program, with economic sanctions dragging on and a European Union oil embargo pending this summer, there has been a great deal of speculation over whether the U.S. or Israel will mount a military strike against nuclear targets in Iran.
As late as last week, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke out against a military option right now, saying that diplomacy and sanctions may yet work.
Brzezinski said that Israel will be tempted to attack Iran before the elections because it will be politically difficult for President Obama to oppose. He said the Israelis are pushing the United States to offer the Iranians a compromise that the Iranians cannot accept "and then, prior to the election, they'll be tempted to strike."
Obama, he said, should tell Israel that "the Iranians would blame us for it. They'll take action against us. We'll be paying the price. This is not acceptable and we want you to know that. ... Most Israelis, we also have to remember, most Israelis don't support a war," he said. "The American Jewish community in the majority is not for it. ... So when the president speaks, he speaks with some degree of political credibility, not only here, but also among the Israelis."
On Syria's civil war and President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown, Brzezinski said the United States shouldn't get out front, but rather support any solution put forward by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who are the U.S. allies in the region.
"I think it's far from clear yet that Assad can, in fact, be overthrown at this stage," he said.
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