Just days after a controversial article in Esquire magazine described Adm. William J. Fallon as the man standing in the way of a Bush administration war against Iran, he resigned his post, most likely under White House pressure, leaving as commander of Florida-based U.S. Central Command, or Centcom, and all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and Northeast Africa more than a year early.
FallonIran wasn't the only point of contention between Fallon (right) and the rest of the Bush administration. As Los Angeles Times Pentagon reporters Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel point out in Wednesday's paper, Fallon seemed to oppose the U.S. strategy in Iraq, as well:
Supporters of the administration's troop buildup have criticized Fallon for pushing for an accelerated reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq. By doing so, they argued, Fallon undermined the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. "He fought Petraeus every step of the way, creating unrealistic demands and extra work," said a former senior Pentagon official who has worked directly with both men. "And in so doing, he was not only undermining Petraeus, he was failing to support the president's policy."
But, it was Fallon's words on Iran policy that riled neoconservative White House and Beltway hawks. The Esquire article describes the conflict over Iran policy as a Manichaean fight between a Bush administration hellbent on confrontation and a Fallon equally determined to cool down tensions:
[W]hile Admiral Fallon's boss, President George W. Bush, regularly trash-talks his way to World War III and his administration casually casts Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as this century's Hitler (a crown it has awarded once before, to deadly effect), it's left to Fallon -- and apparently Fallon alone -- to argue that, as he told Al Jazeera last fall: "This constant drumbeat of conflict ... is not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions." What America needs, Fallon says, is a "combination of strength and willingness to engage."