Since U Been Gone, I Can Bomb For The First Time
Admiral William Fallon, the bulwark between Bush and a war with Iran, is resigning as head of U.S. Central Command. According to the tidbit I just saw on CNN, apparently Secretary Bob Gates said that Fallon quit for the most postmodern of reasons: Fallon thought a recent, highly-controversial Esquire article portrayed him as in opposition to Bush’s bellicosity over Iran. There’s been fierce debate over what Fallon’s substantive views actually are in the defense community, and I can report that knowledgeable people on military listservs I’m on generally believe that the Esquire piece was overblown but generally accurate. For a good summation of Fallon, the Esquire piece, and the resulting furor, check out this Tom Ricks piece in the Post from last week.
Gates said in a press conference just now that no one should think the move reflects any substantive change in policy. That sure won’t be how Teheran sees it. The Iranians will consider Fallon’s resignation to indicate that the bombing begins in the next five minutes. If the new Central Command chief is General Stanley McChrystal, who ran special operations in Iraq until recently (read: responses to Iranian activities), that’ll be a pretty solid indicator that Bush is going to make the most of his last months in office. McChrystal just got a different command, but that, of course, was before the military’s most prestigious combatant command just opened up. Teheran will look verrrrry closely at who gets the job.
Update: Shoulda mentioned that Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Fallon’s deputy, will take over as acting CINC — sorry, combatant commander — on March 31. Fallon can’t even stick around until his replacement is confirmed? Very suspicious. This sounds like a resignation on principle. Either that or Fallon got caught with “Kristen.”