Much admiring notice has lately been taken of Shrub’s new Central Command chief, Admiral William J. Fallon, a font of soothing noises about Iran. This week he reassured the Financial Times that a strike is “not in the offing” and earlier this fall, he spread the same message all over the Persian Gulf region — delighting potentates and other stakeholders in the oil-blest dreamscapes of Doha and Dubai. As was widely reported, he said on Al Jazeera TV, “I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to … do our utmost to create different conditions.”
In private, he supposedly vowed as early as last winter that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch” and added, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.” This (from an anonymous source) was cited by Inter Press in May — and seemingly backed up by Fallon’s outright refusal to place a third carrier group in the Gulf to intimidate Iran last summer.
Refusing Shrub and Darth anything, as we know, never sets well with them. But Fallon is still running CENTCOM, while also running around calling the belligerent rhetoric of his bosses and their war-mongering confreres “not particularly helpful”. Which spurs any reasonable interpreter to search for subtext.
Plenty can be found in more or less plain sight. Although he phrases it charmingly, Fallon rules out nothing apart from leaving — as witness this from the Financial Times piece: “Getting Iranian behavior to change and finding ways to get them to come to their senses and do that is the real objective. Attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice … That said we have to make sure that there is no mistake here on the part of the Iranians about our resolve in tending to business in the region.”
Deftly put. “Stay the Course” has a shiny new wrapper. Beneath the “no extra war with Iran unless they’re too crazy to change” gift-tag is the same old poisonous parcel: “tending to business” in Iraq and environs, at American taxpayers’ expense.
Meanwhile, the ugly bluster goes on in counterpoint to Fallon’s sweet-talk. So it looks like a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine to me — a test to see whether millions of furious Americans will fall into an adulatory swoon and settle for Not Making Things Even Worse (unless it just can’t be helped, in which case “sorry”).
Say we start rooting hard for kindly unk Fallon and eventually Shrub’s thugs seem to cede to his wisdom, as well. The Iranian crisis passes and we’re so relieved that we keep giving the corporatist murderers everything they wanted in the first place. Even those high in the military who’re now grappling with what to do in the event of an Iranian attack order would be able to settle cozily back into line.
It could shape up as quite a coup de théâtre. Or it could shape up as a coup d’état — with Generals of Conscience taking over, ostensibly to save us from bombing Iran and starting a world war. Or whatever. National bankruptcy, corruption and extremist threats worked out fine as rationales for imposing martial law on Burma, Bangladesh and Pakistan, not to mention various South American lands.
That might not actually be far-fetched at all. Shrub has always preferred to delegate.