Mar 12, 2008

Centcom Commander Resigns, Raising Questions as to Whether White House is Preparing for War with Iran

By Joel C. Rosenberg

The head of U.S. Central Command -- responsible for all American military operations in the Middle East -- resigned Tuesday over a firestorm that has erupted over his continuing criticisms of the Bush administration's tough line against Iran.

Navy Admiral William J. "Fox" Fallon has been an outspoken critic of even the possibility that the administration might need to go to war to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons they could then use to annihilate Israel, blackmail the oil-rich Gulf region, and/or launch a surprise attack against the United States or our allies.

This week, Fox seems to have gone too far....The current issue of Esquire magazine has a story entitled,
"The Man Between War and Peace," in which Fallon positions himself as the only man in the American military against a preemptive strike.


"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, although all of his friends call him "Fox," which was his fighter-pilot call sign decades ago....Army General David Petraeus, commanding America's forces in Iraq, may say, 'You cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq,' but Fox Fallon is Petraeus's boss, and he is the commander of United States Central Command, and Fallon doesn't extend Petraeus's logic to mean war against Iran.

So while Admiral Fallon's boss, President George W. Bush, regularly trash-talks his way to World War III and his administration casually casts Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as this century's Hitler (a crown it has awarded once before, to deadly effect), it's left to Fallon--and apparently Fallon alone--to argue that, as he told Al Jazeera last fall: 'This constant drumbeat of conflict . . . is 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.'

What America needs, Fallon says, is a 'combination of strength and willingness to engage.'

Those are fighting words to your average neocon--not to mention your average supporter of Israel, a good many of whom in Washington seem never to have served a minute in uniform. But utter those words for print and you can easily find yourself defending your indifference to 'nuclear holocaust.'

How does Fallon get away with so brazenly challenging his commander in chief?

The answer is that he might not get away with it for much longer. President Bush is not accustomed to a subordinate who speaks his mind as freely as Fallon does, and the president may have had enough."

....Fallon will leave his post officially on March 31. Already there is speculation in D.C. that Fallon is being pushed out because the administration is trying to lay the groundwork for a massive air attack on Iran, and Congressional Democrats are already accusing the administation of muzzling Fallon.

But the truth is Fallon shouldn't have been talking to the press. He shouldn't have been contradicting his commander-in-chief in public. Of course he needed to give his best judgment and counsel to the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs and the President. But no one on the outside the Pentagon, White House and key members of Congress should have known whether he favored a war with Iran or not. That was not, after all, his decision to make. It was, and is, the President's.

At this point, I still believe it is unlikely that President Bush will order a preemptive strike against Iran before he leaves office. 2007 was the "Year of Decision" and the President decided that 1) there wasn't enough evidence, in his view, of an imminent threat from Iran; 2) there wasn't enough political support in Washington for a strike; 3) there wasn't enough American public support for a strike; and 4) there wasn't nearly enough international support such a strike against Iran.

Bottom line: Iran does in fact represent a grave and growing threat to the U.S. and our allies. Russia is helping Iran become an existential threat to Israel, sellling her billions of dollars worth of missiles and nuclear technology. But at the moment, there doesn't seem to be any leader in the West ready, willing or able to do anything about it.

All the more reason to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and the world.