Admiral William Fallon, the top American commander in the Middle East announced his decision to retire after apparently angering Bush administration officials with his comments that appear to contradict policies of the president. He apparently aroused considerable anger when an aritcle appeared in Esquire magazine entitled: “The Man Between War and Peace.” Bush was most probably upset after Fallon last fall told Al-Jazeera, the “constant drumbeat of conflict” from Washington was “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.”
Adminstration officials offered the usual regrets at his departure, but there was a sense of relief the Admiral was gone particularly since he disagreed with some conclusions of General Petraeus about how to pursue the war in Iraq. In his statement announcing retiement, Fallon said: “Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president’s policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the Centcom region.”
The reality is that Fallon understood much better than the Bush administration the importance of working for peace with Iran and the necessity of developing a plan for the gradual withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. In a sense, Fallon’s views may well have been closer to those advocated by Barack Obama than those being urged by Senator McCain.