Iran ‘trying to craft a foreign policy that pushes others around’: Mattis

Former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis, author of the new book “Call Sign Chaos,” is interviewed on “This Week” Sunday.
8:10 | 09/22/19

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Transcript for Iran ‘trying to craft a foreign policy that pushes others around’: Mattis
We will work with our allies and try to bring Iran back into Mo respons behavior. At the same time addressing all five of the threats that Iran constitutes, the nuclear issue which is foremost, certainly the terrorism issue, the ballistic missile efforts they have, cyber attacks they've been conducting and then the threats to international commerce. That was former defense secretary general James Mattis testifying before congress on the threat posed by Iran. General Mattis is the author of a new book called "Call sign chaos" learning to lead. General Mattis joins us now. Secretary Mattis, I know you're hesitant to talk about the trump administration and current events, but you have dealt with Iran for decades. We know they want sanctions lifted. What do you think Iran is thinking at this point? Well, Iran, Martha, is continuing to do what they've done for nearly four decades now. That is be a destabilizing influence as they promote their brand of how they want the Middle East to go, their brand of how they want to lead the Middle East into this fervor that gives the regime its bona fides. They want to look like the leader. They're trying to craft the foreign policy that pushes others around. It's the same thing they've been doing for many, many years. Not the Iranian people, but the Iranian regime. These attacks have increased significantly in the past few months. Why? Well, the Iranians in terms of leading right now feel they're under pressure. They are under pressure. They're going to react the way they've always reacted. Just a few years ago they put together a plan to murder the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, D.C. Less than two miles away from the white house. This is the way this regime conducts its policies. They attacks our embassies. They attacked other people's diplomats. They murdered the former prime minister of Lebanon. This is their modes operandi. There's nothing new here. In your book you mentioned two instances where you felt the United States didn't respond forcefully enough. There was an attack in 2012 after an Iranian fighter jet tried to attack a U.S. Drone. Here's what you wrote about the drone attack. I wanted calculated actions to restrain the regime so it couldn't thrust us into war. Once again the Iranians were not held to account. I anticipate they'll feel emboldened to challenge us more. Do you feel they're emboldened to challenge us more? I think anyone looking at this situation judges that Martha. This is not something that should be simply an American administration policy. You see other nations, as secretary Pompeo mentioned, come in to help on the freedom of navigation patrols. This is a situation when you need your allies and partners. When you need them, you have to build trust that we have a coherent strategy. We have to persuade our allies to be with us. This is a situation whose best possible outcome will come from a coalition of nations that wants to stabilize the middle East. That has to be our goal., to stabilize this situation as soon as possible. Are you concerned with the U.S. Withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which the Europeans did not want, could complicate those efforts to work with them to counter Iran's aggression? What we have to do is we have to play the ball where it lies right now. We need to work with our allies, come up with a clear political end state which we're trying to achieve. I think that's pretty easy to articulate. We want an Iran that doesn't destabilize the Middle East, doesn't attack its neighbors. Doesn't try to kill diplomats. They're pretty basic principals and then we work together economically, diplomatically. In the defense area as well to neuter what Iran is trying to do, the mischief they're trying to create. Do you believe there should be a military response to what just happened? I'm outside the area of responsibility, a position of responsibility. I'm always reluctant not knowing the full story to give advice like that, ma that. We want to use every diplomatic and economic means. Secretary Pompeo made clear he's in New York City to orchestrate that as we try to stop the destabilizing behavior, but at the same time to get a longer term of stability there in the region. The world needs this. The world's economy needs this. Certainly the people in that region don't need Iran to be continuing this kind of behavior. Secretary Mattis, I want to turn to something else, that's the whistleblower investigation. President trump said I hope they can put out that conversation. Should a president be asking foreign leaders to investigate political opponents? Martha, this is not something I have any background on. I don't know anything more than what I read in the news. Apparently no one has seen the complaint. I really prefer to talk about things I know more about. Let me turn to leadership. That's what your book is about, leadership and your life and your position in the marine corp. What does it take to be a good leader? The most important thing that you have to have to be a good leader, is you have to have the ability to build trust. That starts with listening. I'll put it in George Washington's words. Listening, learning, helping and leading. You start by understanding what others face and you figure out a way to help them. As you do that, by helping them you create the position from which your leadership will be listened to and acted upon. It's a rather old formula, a dry formula. It worked for George Washington when he was leading the revolutionary army and I think it works today. One of the ways you end your book is by saying what concerns you most is not external adversaries, it's our internal divisiveness. What do you do about that? I think we have to look at it as a problem in our society, a democracy cannot work without compromise. We're going to have to learn to listen to one another and really understand, learn from one another. Accept the fact that once in a while people we disagree with might be right. When an election is over, when we're done dividing ourselves and going into the voting booths, once the election is decided, let's get back together and start governing. We owe our children and the next generation a lot better than what we're doing today in terms of solving our nation's problems. Secretary Mattis, it's great to see you. Have a great weekend. Thanks, Martha. Up next the round table takes on the fall-out for the

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