Fallon's refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch".
Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, "You know what choices I have. I'm a professional." Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, "There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box."
I have assumed for over a year now that it is well understood in the United States, by actual decision makers, that an attack on Iran will not overthrow the current regime, will not weaken Iran's long-term strategic position and will hurt the US position in the Middle East much more than it hurts Iran's regime.
I have really assumed that everyone knows this:
A grandson of one of the late Shah's ministers, Soroush said, "Mr. President, I simply want to say one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized."
"I know," President Bush answered.
If everyone serious knows this then Fallon does not have threaten to put his career on the line to prevent it. If everyone knows this then the US can comfortably play the game Nixon spoke of, which was to convince his adversaries that he might be crazy. That has the added benefit of scaring real investment away from Iran, which is certainly in line with US interests.
I've assumed that's what we've been seeing all along. If logic works, then that has to be what we've been seeing in US threats against Iran at least since the insurgency in Iraq began picking up steam, the Shiites empowered themselves in a way that gave the US limited influence over them and it became clear that the US will not be able to establish a stable client there.
Maybe Fallon is going public, which means that logic does not work and there are serious parties in the US government intending on attacking Iran regardless of the damage they know it will do to the US in the region over the medium and long term. Either that or Fallon is being smeared.
Maybe somebody in Cheney's office is angry that Fallon broke up plans on putting a showy third carrier into the region - more than were there before the Iraq invasion.
Thirty carriers in the gulf would not be enough to get a regime change, especially to a regime tolerable to the US. It would have been a stupid plan. The Iranians would not have taken it seriously though they may have used it as propaganda to strengthen the hard liners.
If the Bush administration is really self-destructive, not just pretending to be for strategic advantage then logic does not hold. Maybe Bush believes he is being guided by God and is inherently unpredictable.
At the time of the invasion, the attack on Iraq did not seem to me to be a disastrous move from the US point of view. I was pretty sure an unpopular dictator like Chalabi would take over and join the ranks of Mubarak, Jordanian Abdullah and (at the time) Saudi Abdullah (Saudi Abdullah does not seem to be in those ranks any more).
Since that time the US has done what it could. The US lost because it is fighting an unwinnable war that it did not know was unwinnable when it started. I have not seen the adminstration acting self-destructively at any point.
My best guess is that this is a smear, a blow to Fallon's career leaked not by Fallon but by an administration hawk. The battle over the third carrier was lost, but they are making sure it does not happen again.