Adm. Fallon to resign Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The New York Times claims it has to do with policy differences with the administration over Iran.
Adm. William J. Fallon, the top American commander in the Middle East whose views on Iran and other issues have seemed to put him at odds with the Bush administration, is retiring early, the Pentagon said Tuesday afternoon.
The retirement of Admiral Fallon, 63, who only a year ago became the first Navy man to be named the commander of the United States Central Command, was announced by his civilian boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who said that he accepted the admiral’s request to retire “with reluctance and regret.”
The Times claims that Fallon wasn't the commander the Bush administration wanted, supposedly because he bucked the administration on various issues:
Admiral Fallon had rankled senior officials of the Bush administration with outspoken comments on such issues as dealing with Iran and on setting the pace of troop reductions from Iraq — even though his comments were well within the range of views expressed by Mr. Gates.
If you believe the Times, the last straw for Fallon was an article last week by Thomas P.M. Barnett:
Officials said the last straw, however, came in an article in Esquire magazine by Thomas P. M. Barnett, a respected military analyst, that profiled Admiral Fallon under the headline, “The Man Between War and Peace.” The article highlighted comments Admiral Fallon made to the Arab television station Al Jazeera last fall, in which he said that a “constant drumbeat of conflict” from Washington that was directed at Iran and Iraq was “not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions.”
As it happens, I agree with Adm. Fallon in this particular case, but I'm not sure the thoughts he expressed were appropriate for Al Jazeera. At times it is best to push your contrary position in private.
However, that being said, whether or not I agree with him on everything, I certainly respect the fact that he is apparently willing to stand up for what he believes and place his stars on the line up to and including being willing to resign. I expect no less from flag officers with integrity.
I'm not certain he's resigning for that reason, but I suspect it is. If it is, it is pure speculation at this point about whether the reason he is doing so is differences over Iran.
And if it is Iran, then from what I read, his isn't the lone voice calling for a diplomatic solution:
Both Mr. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have maintained an unwavering public line that disagreements with Iran should be resolved diplomatically, and that any military option remained only the last resort.
“I think that the secretary has made clear and I think Admiral Fallon has made clear that the first priority of this administration is to deal with our problems with Iran in a diplomatic fashion,” Mr. Morrell said Monday. “That is our first hope. That is our first effort. However, we have all made clear, time and time again, that nothing, no avenue is off the table.”
Seems pretty clear and certainly a path with which I can agree.
Of course you knew the Democrats wouldn't let it pass without taking the usual political pot shot. And who better to deliver it than my favorite Sad Sack, Harry Reid:
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, pounced on the retirement announcement, calling it “yet another example that independence and the frank, open airing of experts’ views are not welcomes in this administration.”
It'll be interesting to hear what Fallon has to say once he's officially retired. Right now what he's saying is this:
"Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president's policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the Centcom region," Fallon said.
"And although I don't believe there have ever been any differences about the objectives of our policy in the Central Command area of responsibility, the simple perception that there is makes it difficult for me to effectively serve America's interests there," Fallon added.
And Gates gets a little huffy about the Times slant on the story as well:
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.
In fact, Gates reinforces that fairly strong statement a bit later by quoting himself:
"I think this is a cumulative kind of thing," said Gates, speaking of the circumstances leading up to Fallon's decision. "It isn't the result of any one article or any one issue."
"As I say, the notion that this decision portends anything in terms of change in Iran policy is, to quote myself, 'ridiculous,' " he said.
We'll see. In the meantime, we'll have to wait to hear Fallon's side until after March 31st. ____________
I guarantee that he isn’t the only one in the administration with these opinions. I don’t consider it disloyal or insubordination to voice them. In fact, they should be heard to avoid groupthink. But, these comments have to be kept in the house. They can’t be blabbed to the entire world, especially from an official in his position. After that, he had to be removed.
I don’t consider it disloyal or insubordination to voice them. In fact, they should be heard to avoid groupthink. But, these comments have to be kept in the house. They can’t be blabbed to the entire world, especially from an official in his position. After that, he had to be removed.
I agree ... it is your job to voice your opposition if you disagree - and for that I commend him. However, as you point out (and so did I) you do that in private and within the chain of command.