William “Fox” Fallon on Iran

In case you missed it, a June 9th piece by Barbara Slavin in IPS notes that while the likelihood of a US or Israeli military attack on Iran seems low during the last months of Obama’s first term, tensions remain high with little progress made on the de-escalation side.

Slavin highlighted remarks made by retired four-star Admiral William Fallon at an American Iranian Council conference on June 7.

Fallon resigned as head of US Central Command in 2008 after a profile in Esquire magazine portrayed him as opposing a military strike on Iran. This is how Thomas P.M. Barnett introduced him in the article that led to his retirement:

If, in the dying light of the Bush administration, we go to war with Iran, it’ll all come down to one man. If we do not go to war with Iran, it’ll come down to the same man. He is that rarest of creatures in the Bush universe: the good cop on Iran, and a man of strategic brilliance.

Slavin also quotes Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, who warns that some Israeli officials will continue to press for US military action on Iran regardless of the US’s stance or the judgement of internal advisers like Meir Dagan who infuriated many with his recent comments. According to Thielmann:

Some in Israel want to prod us into an attack while others want to wave the saber so that the U.S. will have more sanctions and not consider talking to Iran.

Fallon continues to argue that the best solution would be negotiations with Iran, as long as Iran is committed.

The interests of both people are better addressed with engagement and cooperation rather than antagonism and hostility.

Of course, one reason why “there is no clear path to this preferred alternative anytime soon” is not only the Iranian administration’s current unwillingness to bend to US pre-conditions at the bargaining table. It’s also because of powerful anti-Iran voices within the Israel lobby which Jeffrey Goldberg would like us to refer to in quotations, and which, according to him, is powerful because of some whimsical, naturally ingrained American allegiance with Israel, rather than pro-Israel lobbying activities.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. Obama would only attack Iran out of desperation, hoping to get knee-jerk jingoist reaction from the electorate immediately before the election.

    Obama thought that attacking Libya would position him as a macho, decisive leader. He must be regretting it now as oil prices rose dramatically, leaving the economic recovery stillborn. And Libya produces nowhere near the oil that Iran does.

    So does anyone think he’d repeat the Libya fiasco and deliberately tank the economy? Only out of sheer desperation, before the effects could fully register with the electorate.

  2. Sure he would. But, you’re mistaken about oil and pricing. It is market speculation, not supply shortages. Storage tanks in Cushing OK are so full that it has actually disconnected WTI from Brent. In 2000 there was $9 B invested in oil futures, in 2007 that ran up to $300 B. We haven’t had a shortage in oil since the 70’s. Currently refineries are running just over 85% where they’d rather be hitting 95%. On top of that we have at least a few major refineries down for lack of demand. We’ve even resorted to exporting gasoline to Asia.

  3. Scott–so it’s just coincidental that oil prices spiked after the attack on Libya? OK, so the spike was all about speculation. And speculators will not use an attack on Iran as a good excuse for widespread speculation? Dream on!

    Whether oil price increases are due to speculation about shortages or to actual shortages, Obama deserves to be held accountable for killing off the economic recovery by his stupid intervention in Libya.

  4. It was another pretext. Explain their recent fall? It looks like a stalemate there. The intervention in Lybia was because the oil companies thought Khaddafy was getting too nationalist, asking for too many concessions. So, the oil companies wanted to oust him to find better terms from the disenfranchised willing to cut any deal for control. This may be a “Number 5” coordinated between the security apparatus, the oil companies and Wall St. Though I don’t think much happens without their sanction.

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