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

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK  

If you think jobs provide a route out of poverty, then you should talk to the working mother who can't afford a bath for her family

Javed Khan
Scientists believe the discovery could lead to new treatments for loss of memory function caused by ageing and other factors  

We need a completely new approach to caring for older people

Carol Jagger
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past