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10 March 2008

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Marcello

Who is the little dude in the pic?

Andy

Does your not going have anything to do with Fallon's resignation?

BTW, you're cited in the WAPO:

As he was preparing to take command, Fallon said that a war with Iran "isn't going to happen on my watch," according to retired Army Col. Patrick Lang.

Lang, a former analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in an interview that he asked Fallon how he would avoid such a conflict. "I have options, you know," Fallon responded, which Lang interpreted as implying Fallon would step down rather than follow orders he considers mistaken.

In the December interview, Fallon disputed the precise wording of the exchange. "That's privileged information," he said at first, later adding, "I can't imagine making a statement like that." He then recalled simply telling Lang that attacking Iran "wasn't the first course of action" under consideration.

W. Patrick Lang

Marcello

It is the "varmint cong" from "Caddyshack." pl

W. Patrick Lang

Andy

Admiral Fallon tried to be too many things to too many people.

The Esquire piece finished him off. pl

condfusedponderer

By the way, here is the article mentioned.

What I wonder is whether the author wanted to finish him off with his laudatory article. The author of the Esquire piece is Thomas P. M. Barnett of 'The Pentagon's New Map' and 'Blueprint for Action' fame, a former Pentagon insider, who worked there on 'transformation' from 2001 to 2003. I imagine, he must have known what he was getting Fallon into.

Insights anyone?

Cold War Zoomie

Speaking of Caddyshack...

"Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I've got that going for me...

Classic

David Habakkuk

I am baffled by the Esquire profile. If Admiral Fallon were to be relieved of his command before his time is up, Barnett writes, 'it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way.'

My first reaction to Fallon's departure, before reading the profile, had indeed been to take this as an indication that Bush and Cheney did intend to take military action against Iran.

When I read the profile, however, I was amazed by the way that Admiral Fallon seemed almost to be going out of his way to cheek his superiors -- including Gates. So it was easy to see how, quite irrespective of what they did or did not intend to do about Iran, those superiors might have decided that they had had enough.

Unless he had already concluded that he was going to be sacked anyway when he said what he said to Barnett, meanwhile, Fallon seems to have acted rather stupidly. And even if he had so concluded, if he really saw himself as 'The Man Between War and Peace' (the Esquire headline), should he not have tried to ensure that if he was sacked, it was unambiguously clear that this was because of his opposition to a resort to war?

So -- does his departure materially increase the chances of an attack on Iran or not? And how high are these, currently?

On the cost benefit calculus of an attack. Last month, I noted that the vulnerability of the global economic system, one of the major problems with the military option, had patently got much worse since the Colonel and Larry Johnson published their 'Contemplating the Ifs' article two years ago. And I noted that the latest column by the principal economics columnist of the Financial Times, Martin Wolf, was headed 'America's economy risks mother of all meltdowns.'

The article was actually a commentary on the views of the figure whom Wolf describes as his favourite among the 'true bears' -- Professor Nouriel Roubini of the Stern School of Business in New York. The ongoing debate which has resulted is interesting, because it shows some of the more alarming scenarios for the U.S. and world economy which have been mentioned by contributors to this blog moving towards the mainstream of the economics profession.

The latest installment from Wolf is headlined 'Going, going, gone: a rising auction of scary scenarios'. It shows Goldman Sachs catching up and overtaking Roubini's $1,000bn estimate for the losses to the financial system from the subprime debacle -- and Roubini moving to estimate the possible losses as high as $3,000bn. The explanation for the difference is interesting. Both Goldman and Roubini anticipate a house price crash -- Roubini also thinks that a high proportion of households in negative equity are likely simply to walk away and hand their houses over to the lenders, wreaking havoc on the financial system.

The U.S. Government, Wolf suggests, could then simply be forced into 'nationalisation of all losses'. This he suggests would mean 'more than the biggest US financial crisis since the 1930s' -- it would be 'an epochal political event.'

If such a crisis were to be gravely exacerbated by an attack on Iran which went wrong, we might see an 'epochal political event' in spades.

alnval

Col. Lang:

re Habakkuk's possible 'epochal political event' I can't help but be reminded of the events that led up to the English Civil War.

Among these, were the King's demand that all his subjects conform to a religion that he espoused, ongoing legal battles as to whether the King was entitled to rule independent of the courts or the parliament, the use of secret, non-judicial trials, whether Parliament owed its existence to a grant from the King or was a legal right which belonged to the people independent of the King, and, finally, disputes over money.

It all came to a head, when the King was unable to pay for his continuing religious war with Scotland. The Scots wanted nothing to do with the episcopacy which the King's Anglican faith demanded. This forced him to summon Parliament to insist that they give him the money necessary to support the war.

Parliament objected organized its own army and the war was on.

The King's army was defeated and the ensuing military dictatorship purged Parliament, beheaded the King and ran the country as a Protectorate (dictatorship) until 1688 when the King's son was restored to the throne.

At least in England, the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy was never again successfully challenged.

Parallels are always inexact and some will say that comparing a country of 50,000 square miles and 4 million people having 17th century technology with the modern day United States is specious.

The comparison to be made, however, is not about land mass, technology, or size of population but about the maintenance of basic human values. That's one of the reasons we have history is to keep track of how well we're doing in that area.

Andy

David,

I found Barnett's response to Fallon's resignation rather lame:

I don't have any comment on it.

ISTM now that lone-man-standing-between-war-and-peace rhetoric in Barnett's article was, to put it charitably, over-the-top. It certainly got him and the article a lot of press and page-links. The reporting on the reasons for the resignation (including Col. Lang's comment above) make me quite dubious of how he characterized the Admiral in that article - specifically that he is the only thing standing between war with Iran and no war. Such reporting is not, I'm sure, lost on the Iranians and I wonder if their alert level has changed in the past 48 hours as a consequence. Overwrought reporting on an already tense situation does no one any favors.

pbrownlee

"Charles II (Charles Stuart; 29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

"According to royalists, Charles II became king when his father Charles I was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, the climax of the English Civil War. The English Parliament did not proclaim Charles II king at this time, passing a statute making it unlawful, and England entered the period known to history as the English Interregnum. The Parliament of Scotland, on the other hand, proclaimed Charles II King of Scots on 5 February 1649 in Edinburgh. He was crowned King of Scots at Scone on 1 January 1651. Following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, Charles fled to the continent and spent the next nine years in exile in France, the United Provinces and the Spanish Netherlands.

"After the Protectorate collapsed under Richard Cromwell in 1659, General George Monck invited Charles to return and assume the thrones in what became known as the Restoration. Charles II arrived on English soil on 25 May 1660 and entered London on his thirtieth birthday, 29 May 1660. Charles was crowned King of England and Ireland at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661...

"Charles suffered a sudden apoplectic fit on the morning of 2 February 1685, and died at 11:45 a.m. four days later at Whitehall Palace (at the age of 54). The symptoms of his final illness are similar to those of uraemia (a clinical syndrome due to kidney dysfunction)... On the last evening of his life he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, though the extent to which he was fully conscious or committed, and with whom the idea originated, is unclear. He was buried in Westminster Abbey 'without any manner of pomp' on 14 February and was succeeded by his brother who became James II of England and Ireland and James VII of Scotland."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_II_of_England

"James II and VII (14 October 1633 – 16 September 1701) was King of England, King of Scots, and King of Ireland from 6 February 1685 to 11 December 1688. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Many of his subjects distrusted his religious policies and autocratic tendencies, leading a group of them to depose him in the Glorious Revolution in 1688. He was replaced not by his Roman Catholic son, James Francis Edward, but by his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, who became joint rulers in 1689.

"James made one serious attempt to recover his crowns, when he landed in Ireland in 1689. After his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in the summer of 1690, James returned to France, living out the rest of his life under the protection of his cousin and ally, King Louis XIV.

"James is best known for his belief in absolute monarchy and his attempts to create religious liberty for his subjects. Both of these went against the wishes of the English Parliament and of most of his subjects. Parliament, opposed to the growth of absolutism that was occurring in other European countries, as well as to the loss of legal supremacy for the Church of England, saw their opposition as a way to preserve traditional English liberties. This tension made James's three-year reign a struggle for supremacy between the Parliament and the crown, resulting in his ouster, the passage of the English Bill of Rights, and the Hanoverian succession."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_II_of_England

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