Mullen says he 'doesn't need' a war in Iran

Top Pentagon officer speaks to Fox about possible effects of attack on Iran, pulling troops out of Iraq.

mullen speaks 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
mullen speaks 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Pentagon's top military officer Adm. Mike Mullen on Sunday discussed the fallout from a potential attack against Tehran by either the US or Israel. "Right now I'm fighting two wars and I don't need a third one." Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mullen added, "I worry about the instability in that part of the world and, in fact, the possible unintended consequences of a strike like that and, in fact, having an impact throughout the region that would be difficult to both predict exactly what it would be and then the actions that we would have to take to contain it." In the same interview, Mullen also said that a specific time frame for withdrawing US combat troops from Iraq could jeopardize political and economic progress, leading to "dangerous consequences." According to Mullen, the agreement between US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to set a "general time horizon" for bringing more troops home from the war was a sign of "healthy negotiations for a burgeoning democracy." "I think the strategic goals of having time horizons are ones that we all seek because eventually we would like to see US forces draw down and eventually all come home," the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said. "This right now doesn't speak to either time lines or timetables, based on my understanding of where we are." The best way to determine levels of troops, he said, is to assess the conditions on the ground and to consult with American commanders - the mission Bush has given him. "Based on my time in and out of Iraq in recent months, I think the conditions-based assessments are the way to go and they're very solid. We're making progress and we can move forward accordingly based on those conditions," Mullen said. Maliki, meanwhile, was quoted by a German magazine over the weekend as saying US troops should leave "as soon as possible" and he called Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's suggestion of 16 months "the right timeframe for a withdrawal." Later, his chief spokesman said in a statement that the prime minister's comments were "not conveyed accurately." Mullen, asked about the possibility of withdrawing all combat troops within two years, said, "I think the consequences could be very dangerous." "It's hard to say exactly what would happen. I'd worry about any kind of rapid movement out and creating instability where we have stability. We're engaged very much right now with the Iraqi people. The Iraqi leadership is starting to generate the kind of political progress that we need to make. The economy is starting to move in the right direction. So all those things are moving in the right direction," Mullen said.