March 11, 2008

Fallon Gonged in Favor of Petraeus

Admiral William Fallon, Commander, U.S. Central Command, is resigning:

Adm. William Fallon, the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, is resigning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

Gates said Fallon had asked him Tuesday morning for permission to retire and Gates agreed. Gates said the decision was entirely Fallon's and that Gates believed it was "the right thing to do."

Fallon was the subject of an article published last week in Esquire magazine that portrayed him as opposed to President Bush's Iran policy. It described Fallon as a lone voice against taking military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

Gates described as "ridiculous" any notion that Fallon's departure signals the United States is planning to go to war with Iran. And he said "there is a misperception" that Fallon disagrees with the administration's approach to Iran.

"I don't think there were differences at all," Gates added.

I suspect that there will be those on the fringe left who will be screeching about how Fallon's resignation is the prelude to a preemptive war with Iran—probably before I even finish this sentence—no doubt suggested by a certain Esquire article that stated the quite fanciful claim that "it's left to Fallon--and apparently Fallon alone..." to keep Dubya from bombing Iran into the stone age.

Barnett seems to have completely overlooked the fact that it has been Tehran, not Washington, that has publicly promised not just war, but genocide (but then, in the same article, it was Burnett that claimed Fallon was "waging peace" with the Chinese in his prior assignment, even as Fallon's replacement expressed concern over massive increases in Chinese military spending, so consider the source), but that probably has little to do with his resignation at this time.

No, as Blackfive rightly notes, Fallon's retirement comes not because of friction with the Bush Administration (though there may have been some), but because General David Patraeus is coming to town, no doubt as the Administration's favored choice to lead Central Command after his implementation of COIN strategy in Iraq.

My guess? Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno, who executed the surge so well, backfills Petraeus as Commanding General, (MNF-I).

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 11, 2008 03:16 PM

Jim Robbins of National Review notes that Fallon "... may be as much a victim of [Esquire writer] Thomas Barnett's weirdly hyperbolic prose style as anything else. 'If, in the dying light of the Bush administration, we go to war with Iran, it'll all come down to one man. If we do not go to war with Iran, it'll come down to the same man. He is that rarest of creatures in the Bush universe: the good cop on Iran, and a man of strategic brilliance. His name is William Fallon...' Come on, could anyone buy that? Contrast it with the allegation (since denied) that Fallon called General David Petraeus an "*ss-kissing little chickensh*t." Considering General Petraeus's demonstrated bona fides in the strategic brilliance department, you have to wonder what was really going on backstage."

Posted by: Terry at March 11, 2008 06:20 PM

Abraham Lincoln would likely have responded to the alleged Fallon quote about Petraeus much as he did when Ulysses S. Grant was accused of being a drunken lout:

"I don't care if Petraeus is an a**-kissing little chickensh*t. I can't spare this man--he fights!"

Posted by: MarkJ at March 11, 2008 08:41 PM

"'If, in the dying light of the Bush administration, we go to war with Iran, it'll all come down to one man. If we do not go to war with Iran, it'll come down to the same man."

Funny, I thought Congress was the only part of the government that had the ability to declare war. Apparently this journalist thinks that power has been vested in one man.

On the other hand, it could be argued that we are already in a state of war with Iran. Qods forces, official agents of a hostile nation, have attacked and killed US troops. This can be considered an act of war. Since the Supreme Court refuses to adjudicate a formal interpretation of the War Powers clause, we see precedent for both broad and narrow interpretations (see Tripoli, Lincoln's Southern Blockade, and Vietnam).

Posted by: Dan Irving at March 12, 2008 06:49 AM

See video: Why Fallon's Resignation is Frightening Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not have to accept Admiral Fallon's resignation. "The military people think basically that Admiral Fallon was PUSHED OUT" - Mark Thompson Time Magazine National Security Correspondent
Fallon is described as "the one person in the military or Pentagon standing between the White House and war with Iran."

Posted by: Tom at March 12, 2008 09:58 AM

I have it from a very reliable source that Fallon's exit has nothing to do with his stance on Iran, but due to some other issues.

Burnett's article in Esquire may have been purposeful seppuku on Fallon's part, though I will not elaborate as to why at his time.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at March 12, 2008 10:04 AM

Wow, Barnett - based on this small excerpt, sounds every bit as silly and lightweight as my previous limited exposure to him indicated. He did an interview on a radio show and said the most absurd things about Iraq and Iran - pure, Beltway, NYT-level, lightweight, indefensible nonsense. Everything based on the implicit bizarro-world premise that AVOIDING military action is the stragegic objective - not any actual objective like preventing a nuclear Iran, coercing adversaries, etc. How do people like this get books published, much less hired by DOD to do anything substantive? Astonishing, discouraging, and completely routine, I guess.

Posted by: MNF-I REMF at March 12, 2008 01:01 PM

We are, in a word, screwed. The likelihood of any country staging a conventional of guerrilla nuclear attack on the US is slim, at best. Even if Iran developed the know-how to create a nuclear weapon THEY HAVE NO DELIVERY SYSTEM. What are they going to do; have the Iranian shotput champion hurl it at us? And transporting a fissile nuclear material or a completed suitcase nuke is much, much harder than Tom Clancy as led you to believe. To risk a broader (and more catastrophic) conflict in the Middle East than already exists in the nightmare we have created in Iraq to alleviate this "risk" is, well, in word, stupid. The soldier you want fighting at your side is the one who knows when not to fight. If we strike Iran the US death toll in Iraq will double in less than a year! Mark my words. The tacit, secret assistance the Iranians are giving the Iraqi insurgency could become, in their eyes, defensible and as such their support for the Iraqi insurgency would become overt. Money, weapons, training and men to fight would pour over the boarder. Add to that the fact that almost every ally we have that still has troops committed would likely began planning their withdrawl. This is about saving the dollar and oil. What do all Iraq, Venezuela and Iran all have in common? They all have oil and they have threatened to or already begun trading their oil against the Euro and not the dollar. And when that happens our recession kicks into over drive. So we have corrupt wall street bankers destroying the credit base of US citizens, reclaiming\foreclosing on millions of homes and sending jobs over seas. Attacking Iran is not going to do any good.

Posted by: ThePatriot at March 16, 2008 10:08 PM