Top U.S. commander in Mideast to retire early
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.”
President Bush said Admiral Fallon had served his country with “honor, determination and commitment” and deserved “considerable credit” for the progress in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But despite the warm words from Mr. Bush and Mr. Gates, there was no question that the admiral’s premature departure stemmed from a public appearance of policy differences with the administration, and with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq. [complete article]
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. Forty years into a military career that has seen this admiral rule over America’s two most important combatant commands, Pacific Command and now United States Central Command, it’s impossible to make this guy–as he likes to say–“nervous in the service.” Past American governments have used saber rattling as a useful tactic to get some bad actor on the world stage to fall in line. This government hasn’t mastered that kind of subtlety. When Dick Cheney has rattled his saber, it has generally meant that he intends to use it. And in spite of recent war spasms aimed at Iran from this sclerotic administration, Fallon is in no hurry to pick up any campaign medals for Iran. And therein lies the rub for the hard-liners led by Cheney. 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. [complete article]
Commander rejects article of praise
The top U.S. commander in the Middle East is the subject of a glowing magazine article describing him as the only person who might stop the Bush administration from going to war against Iran.
Esquire magazine’s forthcoming profile of Adm. William “Fox” Fallon portrays the chief of the U.S. Central Command as “brazenly challenging” President Bush on Iran, pushing back “against what he saw as an ill-advised action.”
Written by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College, the article in the magazine’s April issue predicts that if Fallon leaves his position at Central Command, “it may well mean that the president and vice president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don’t want a commander standing in their way.”
The article is written in an admiring fashion, praising Fallon as “a man of strategic brilliance” whose understanding of the tumultuous situation in Pakistan “is far more complex than anyone else’s.”
Asked about the article yesterday, Fallon called it “poison pen stuff” that is “really disrespectful and ugly.” He did not cite specific objections. [complete article]