Thursday, March 6, 2008

Admiral Rejects Glowing Tribute As Poison

[This is one of the worst posts I've ever written but at least it's UPDATED BELOW]

Esquire magazine has just published a remarkable piece about Admiral William Fallon, who as CENTCOM commander is the highest ranking US military man in the Middle East.

The article, by Thomas Barnett, describes Fallon in glowing terms and depicts him as standing between the maddest of madmen and their most heinous plan -- an attack on innocent civilians that would kill millions and plunge the world into an even larger, more complex war.

Fallon, who clearly cooperated with Barnett, now rejects the piece, calling it "poison pen stuff", "really disrespectful and ugly".

Why? Because of a few tricky little details which I deliberately omitted from the opening paragraph.

The madmen in question are in the White House, and the Pentagon, and the Knesset, and Wall Street, and many other allegedly respectable places ... and their heinous plan is to wage nuclear war against Iran.

Thomas Barnett in Esquire:
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.
Thomas Ricks in the Washington Post:
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 [...] 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.
It looks to me as if the good admiral was willing to stand between the madmen and their goal as long as he could do it quietly; but now that Barnett has blown his cover, Fallon's backpedaling like mad to try to avoid decapitation.

I'd probably do the same.


There's more at both links.

Esquire: The Man Between War and Peace

Washington Post: Commander Rejects Article of Praise


[UPDATE!] Chris Floyd has posted a masterful deconstruction of everything I've said here; I fell into a dumb trap whereas Chris did not.

Kudos to Chris and darts to me; go read Chris right away!

Crushing the Ants: The Admiral and the Empire
There has been quite a buzzing in "progressive" circles over the new Esquire article about Admiral William Mullen, head of U.S. Central Command, the military satrapy that covers the entire "arc of crisis" at the heart of the "War on Terror," from east Africa, across the Middle East, and on to the borders of China. Much has been made of Mullen's alleged apostasy from the Bush Regime's bellicosity toward Tehran; indeed, the article paints Mullen as the sole bulwark against an American attack on Iran – and hints ominously that the good admiral may be forced out by George W. Bush this summer, clearing the way for one last murderous hurrah by the lame duck president. The general reaction to the article seems to be: God preserve this honorable man, and keep him as our shield and defender against the wicked tyrant.

But this is most curious. For behind the melodramatic framing and gushing hero-worship of the article – written by Thomas Barnett (of whom more later) – we find nothing but a few mild disagreements between Fallon and the White House over certain questions of tactics, timing and presentation in regard to American domination of a vast range of nations and peoples.

Fallon himself has long denied the story which had him declaring, upon taking over Central Command, that a war on Iran "isn't going to happen on my watch." And in fact, the article itself depicts Fallon's true attitude toward the idea of an attack on Iran right up front, in his own words. After noting Fallon's concerns about focusing too much on Iran to the exclusion of the other "pots boiling over" in the region, Barnett nevertheless keeps pressing the point the point and asks: "And if it comes to war?" Fallon replies with stark, brutal clarity:
"Get serious," the admiral says. "These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."
Ha ha! Of course you do!!

Chris Floyd: Crushing the Ants: The Admiral and the Empire