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Resigning US Middle East commander in Baghdad

Latest update : 2008-03-13

Admiral Fallon, the commander of US forces in the Middle East, is in Baghdad on a surprise visit. The White House has rejected claims that Fallon's departure meant a shift in US policy on Iran. (Report: N.Rushworth)


Admiral William Fallon, the head of American military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia who announced his resignation on Tuesday, visited Iraq the following day.


The senior officer resigned after an article released this week in Esquire magazine depicted him as the chief reason Bush had not decided to launch a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.


Admiral Fallon justified his departure on the grounds that “recent press suggests that the differences between my opinion and the political objectives of the president have created a distraction during a sensitive moment, and compromised our power in the region.” Fallon has been in charge since 2007 of overseeing the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The White House denied on Tuesday that anyone in the government was seeking war with Iran, or that Fallon lost his position because of his opposition to such an enterprise. But Yannick Mireur, editor-in-chief of the publication “Politique Américaine,” affirmed in an interview with FRANCE 24 that “Fallon’s quick and sudden resignation demonstrates that this was sanctioned by President Bush.”

War, “more political than military”

The precipitous departure of Admiral Fallon just weeks before America’s reassessment of its Iraq policy has renewed criticism on the part of Democrats, who claim that Fallon was sacked because of his expression of an honest opinion.


According to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (Dem), Fallon’s resignation illustrated that “the Bush administration did not appreciate the independence and frankness of experts.” Secretary of Defence Robert Gates retorted that Admiral Fallon, a “very talented” man, decided to quit “on his own.”


According to Yannick Mireur, Fallon had to resign for “hierarchical” reasons, as he stepped on the toes of his superiors. This decision also reveals that the “spirit of discussion and debate is not the way the White House operates.”


FRANCE 24 Washington correspondent Philippe Gassot, says that “a lot of military people who have expressed their opposition to the war have been dismissed.” He adds that war in this administration is “more political than military.”

New disavowals of Bush strategy

Former deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, former counselor to the president Dan Bartlett, former attorney general Alberto Gonzales and former White House press secretary Scott McClellan – long is the list of Bush administration members who have resigned. And according to Gassot, “those close to Bush are starting to abandon him, a little at a time.”


It was a hard blow for Bush when Rove quit in August 2007. For many this marked the end of the Bush era.


But the humiliation for Bush doesn’t end there. Scott McClellan is in the process of publishing a book entitled “WHAT HAPPENED: Inside the Bush White House and What’s Wrong with Washington.”


Fallon’s decision signifies, according to Gassot, a grave disavowal of Bush politics, since a military official usually cannot easily abandon his post in the midst of a battle.


Date created : 2008-03-12