Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (Photo: Albert H. Teich/ Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (Photo: Albert H. Teich/


Ashton Carter, top pick for new leadership in the Pentagon, has a history of strong relations with Israel and advocates military action against Iran.

When U.S. President Obama appointed Charles “Chuck” Hagel as new acting head of the Pentagon two years ago, the pro-Israel community shuddered. Hagel, who was brought in to deconstruct US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, had made pejorative statements about the influence of the “pro-Israel lobby” and seemed to encourage the administration’s dovish stance towards Iran’s nuclear program.

Hagel’s expected successor, Ashton Carter, is expected to change all that.

‘Protecting America Means Protecting Israel’

A physicist and former deputy secretary of defense, Carter has a nearly-40-year relationship with Washington,and is regarded by Israel as an honest and perceptive friend in the uppermost echelons of the Pentagon. Israeli diplomats and leaders of the American Jewish community have equally praised Carter.

During a visit to Israel in 2013, Carter met with a top military unit in Israel and told the soldiers: “Protecting America means protecting Israel, and that’s why we’re here in the first place.” Carter has also been instrumental in ensuring numerous Israeli weapons acquisitions, orchestrating the deal that gave Israel F-35 “stealth” fighters.

Advocating Tough Stance on Iran since 2004

Unlike Hagel’s post—whose main functions were demilitarization and tighter military budgeting—Carter’s appointment could do more to advance a hard-line stance against Iran’s race for nuclear weapons. As early as 2004, Carter suggested that where the diplomatic solution might fail, the US would have to employ more “coercive” methods for the complete destruction of both North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs. He reinforced this position again at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace research center in 2006.

Two years later, Carter co-authored a report, titled “Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Towards Iranian Nuclear Development,” published by the Bipartisan Policy Center, which insisted that Iran was building nuclear weapons and “shows no sign of bowing to international pressure to halt a nuclear program in which it has invested billions of dollars.” The report maintains that Iran was easily capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb and that as part of their strategy of deterrence, the Americans should make it clear to the Islamic Republic that they were prepared to use force.

Ever since, Carter has continued to advocate a “verifiable” dismantling of Iran’s nuclear plants, as even military action is not guaranteed to eradicate the danger.

Compiled by United with Israel Staff

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