Foreign Policy Blogs

Crush Them Like Ants

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In this month's Esquire magazine, Thomas Barnett fawns over Admiral Fallon, Commander of Central Command (CENTCOM). He laughably calls Fallon "The Man Between War and Peace." Fallon is not between anything. As commander of CENTCOM he is currently waging two wars and will unhesitatingly start another one if he feels it is necessary.

It's ironic that the media first painted Fallon as the man who was specifically chosen by the Bush administration to lead a war against Iran. The thought behind this was that since the Army was bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, it couldn't possibly invade Iran. Therefore, Iran had to be attacked by the Air Force and Navy because they were the only branches of the military not hollowed out by those two occupations. They were ready for the kill. Who better to lead the air attack than a former ground attack pilot and commander of carrier battle groups?

Now the media would have us believe he is serving as a spoiler to Bush's plan to attack Iran. They quote him saying negative things about Petraeus (which is possible, flag rank officers tend to be arrogant and disparaging of each other), and that an attack on Iran won't happen on his watch (doubtful he ever said that). If any regional commander tried to spoil his commander in chief's plans, then that regional commander would be fired and a more pliant officer put in his place. After all, the military is supposed to obey the civilians, not the other way around.

Barnett's article is a liberal's dream: a decorated admiral and regional commander standing up to President Bush and preventing him from starting another war. Unfortunately, "tis but a dream. A more realistic assessment of Fallon is by Chris Floyd who writes that there are only "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." A mere question of tactics, not strategy. On that, they are in perfect agreement; the military option is still on the table for Iran. And if it comes to war, the good admiral says, “These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them.”

Fallon is a Man Of War and will go to war when ordered to do so. War is not just his job, it is his way of life.

UPDATE: Fallon has been forcibly “retired,” but the reasons are why I said they would be. The commander in chief has lost confidence in Fallon and can't be perceived as not having a unified team for his foreign policy. The next commander will have learned from the Fallon example and be much more compliant with the president's views.

 

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