Big Picture on Fallon

March 11, 2008 5:04 p.m.

The interlocking rumor and speculation mills are now buzzing with theories about whether Adm. Fallon jumped or was pushed from his perch as the top military commander for US military forces across the Middle East (what the Pentagon refers to as ‘Central Command’). But there is a big picture that is important to keep in focus. That is, quite simply, that Fallon is leaving because he was apparently too sane for the Bush White House.

Those may seem like fighting words, but they’re not.

By all accounts, the points of contention between Fallon and Bush administration officials centered on three points: 1) his belief that the indefinite occupation of Iraq is a disaster for the US military, 2) that diplomacy has a central role in American foreign and national security policy, 3) that war is not a credible policy for the US to pursue in dealing with Iran. The last of these was believed to be the key issue.

Bear in mind too that Fallon was not foisted on the White House. Nor was he a holdover from a previous administration. The administration chose him. And while the political leadership of the Pentagon and the White House can’t choose just anyone for that job they have a fair amount of latitude to choose an officer of sufficient rank who is to their liking — a prerogative this administration has availed itself of as much or more as any in modern American history.

It is widely believed in media and political circles that despite the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, American foreign policy is back under some kind of adult/mainstream management. In other words, that we’ve left the Cheney/Rumsfeld era behind for a period of Gates/Rice normalcy and that Iran regime change adventurism is safely off the table. But put together what the disagreements with Fallon were about, the fact that the president chose him as someone he thought he could work with not more than one year ago, and the almost unprecedented nature of the resignation and it becomes clear that that assumption must be gravely in error.

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