Leading article: An admiral and a self-serving administration

Share
Related Topics

Esquire magazine's recent description of Admiral William Fallon as "the man between peace and war" seems a little unfortunate in the light of his resignation this week as head of US Central Command. It is especially so, considering that the article to which this description was attached is being cited as the reason Admiral Fallon had to step down.

The official explanation for his resignation is that there was a damaging "perception problem" of a difference of opinion between Fallon and the White House. On the contrary, this departure was all about substance. It was an open secret in US military circles that the admiral disagreed with the Bush administration's strategy in the Middle East. He was against the troop "surge" in Iraq and wanted to give military priority to Afghanistan and Pakistan instead. In particular, he disagreed with the administration's bellicose attitude towards Iran. The White House is at pains to argue that the military option with regard to Iran remains "on the table", despite the release last year of a US National Intelligence Estimate report stating that Tehran is no longer pursuing a nuclear weapon. Yet Admiral Fallon had this to say last autumn on Iran to the Arabic broadcaster Al-Jazeera: "This constant drumbeat of conflict is not helpful or useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for." A more obvious rebuff to his political masters could scarcely have been conceived.

Admiral Fallon is quite right about the self-defeating policies of the Bush administration. Iraq has indeed been a dangerous distraction from Afghanistan and Pakistan. With regard to Iran, it is true that, as the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates pointed out this week, an American attack on the country's nuclear sites is most unlikely in the wake of the NIE report. But although the White House may not be about to order an assault, the administration's hard line on Tehran is certainly impeding progress to regional stability.

Admiral Fallon is not the first to fail to persuade the White House to adopt a more constructive approach to Iran. The 2006 Iraq Study Group recommended bringing neighbouring states, including Iran, on board to improve the security situation in the country. Yet despite commissioning the report, Mr Bush did exactly the opposite, seeking to isolate Iran and ordering the surge into Baghdad.

What lies behind this refusal to engage? After so many years of policy failure and repeated rejections of informed advice, it is impossible not to conclude that the root of the administration's resistance is a simple, stubborn, ideological rigidity. It is a rigidity for which the region has paid a catastrophic price.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Helpdesk Team Leader / Manager

£45000 per annum + pension,medical: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable gl...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Project Manager

£35000 per annum + £5k bonus, car: Ashdown Group: A successful business that h...

IT Infrastructure Project Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A large and well established business is look...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes