Within a month of his appointment as commander in chief of Central Command in March 2007, a running gun battle started between Fallon and his subordinate, General David Petraeus, over troop levels in Iraq. Most of those disputes have been aired in military channels -- and resolved in favor of the U.S. commander in Baghdad. Though extremely demanding for the troops on the ground and their families at home, the fact that "the surge" has worked so well in reducing violence in Iraq commends the wisdom of Petreus's plan.
But the admiral's differences with the president over U.S. strategy toward Iran and the threat posed by Tehran's nuclear ambitions have been an entirely different matter. For months now, Fallon -- like MacArthur in 1951 -- has been publicly disputing administration policy toward an avowed adversary. This should have gotten the attention of the Bush White House and the Gates Pentagon without the aid of an article in Esquire.
Last September, while the administration was in the midst of trying to ratchet up U.N. sanctions against Iran and was telling allies and adversaries alike that "all options remain on the table" to deter Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Fallon said on Al Jazeera TV that "this constant drumbeat of conflict is not helpful and not useful." Less than two months later, he told the Financial Times that a military strike against Iran was "not in the offing another war is just not where we want to go."
Despite the way Fallon and the Bush administration are portrayed in the Esquire piece, no one that I know of -- in the White House or the Pentagon -- wants war with Iran. In fact, rather than a rush to war, the Bush administration has been on a rush to diplomacy. And it may even work.
The U.N. Security Council just passed a new sanctions resolution to enforce nuclear inspections. And this week, the U.S. Treasury announced that yet another financial institution connected to the theocrats in Tehran is banned from doing business in the United States.
All that may come as news to Fallon and his supporters in the press and the Democratic Party who now claim that he was sacked for being "too diplomatic." Or maybe it's just time that we're resigned to reality.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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