President Donald Trump has offered the national security adviser post vacated by Gen. Michael Flynn to a former Navy SEAL considered an expert on Iran, according to news reports.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, had been asked to replace Flynn. Harward, who also saw combat action as a SEAL, is now an executive with defense contractor Lockheed Martin, where he oversaw the company’s Middle Eastern operations.
However, it’s Harward’s experience with Iran that has many observers raising their eyebrows.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, Harwood grew up in pre-revolutionary Iran, gaining a distinct familiarity with the culture.
“During very formative years of his life, he was exposed to everything that was Iran,” said Joseph Condrill, one of Harward’s classmates at the Tehran American School. “Iran was one of our homes, and we got to know the Iranian people very well, in a very intimate way.”
Foreign Policy (subscription required) also reports that when Harward was at Central Command, he served under Gen. James Mattis — now the defense secretary — who put him in charge of planning for war with Iran should the necessity ever arise.
“Iran’s well-established past pattern of deceit and reckless behavior have progressively increased the potential for miscalculation that could spark a regional, if not a global, conflict,” Harward said in a speech in 2012, according to Reuters.
“I think back to the days when I graduated from the Tehran American School in 1974, where as a Westerner I could freely travel through Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and other countries in the region and be greeted, and welcomed, because of the policies and strategy the West employed in the region,” he continued. “Yet, I look today, we are in a much different world.”
The Trump administration has already indicated that Tehran is going to be one of its major focuses in the foreign policy arena. Iran has already been included in the seven nations subject to President Trump’s temporary travel ban (now in judicial limbo), and the administration has made it clear that Iran is “on notice” for its behavior on the international scene.
No word yet on whether Harward will accept the position. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.
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