- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tuesday’s resignation of Adm. William J. Fallon as the top military commander in the Middle East was unavoidable and necessary in the wake of his public comments outlining his policy differences with President Bush.

In an interview published last week in Esquire, Adm. Fallon was described as a lone voice of opposition to the Bush administration’s approach on Iran — the indispensable man whose presence in the military prevented Mr. Bush from leading the United States into war. The Esquire article, “The Man Between War And Peace,” says regarding Adm. Fallon: “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.” That was just one of a series of comments recently attributed to Adm. Fallon that were critical of the administration’s policy toward Iran. Adm. Fallon has had a long, distinguished military career. But once his differences with the administration became public, it was no longer possible for him to continue to serve the commander in chief.

Since the founding of the republic more than two centuries ago, the United States has been well served by the principle of civilian control of the military — meaning that the president makes the decisions, and public disagreement by soldiers under his command is regarded as insubordination. All of this should be known to any reasonably intelligent 11th grader. But judging from their reactions to the Fallon resignation, Sens. Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy missed out on some basic civics lessons. Mr. Reid complained that Adm. Fallon’s departure showed that “independence and the frank, open airing of the experts’ views are not welcomed in this administration.” Mr. Bush’s “oft-repeated claim that he follows the advice of his commanders on the ground rings hollow if our commanders don’t feel free to disagree with the president,” Mr. Kennedy asserted.

Nearly 30 years ago, Gen. John Singlaub, commander of U.S. military forces in South Korea, was publicly critical of President Carter’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea. Although Gen. Singlaub had a very strong case on the military merits, Mr. Carter really had no choice but to fire him based on the principle that it is intolerable for active-duty military personnel to publicly disagree with the commander in chief. Shame on Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Reid — senior senators both — for choosing to ignore the Singlaub precedent and use the Fallon case to take cheap shots at Mr. Bush.

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