Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fox Away!

My initial reaction was much like Lex's; "Holy Smokes! Fox Fallon resigns!" My second thought was; we are about to hear a lot of uninformed speculation and agenda mongering.

From my little perspective, let me offer some free advice to all; the first through 30th reports will be wrong or skewed. Much to most all of what you are reading is just wrong to clueless guessing - as would this post if I tried to chew on any of the specific details that are available open source.

In time, the story will come out, and it isn't now. Full stop. I'll wait for Fallon and SEDEF Gates' papers.

There are quotes attributed to Fallonthere and there second-hand that would normally set me off in a comment screed - not this time though. I don't trust most of what I am reading and won't comment on them or their veracity.

As with most things, in cases like this it is helpful to cut through the middle-men and get to primary sources.

A lot of this story as it is being presented, has to do with
Thomas P.M. Barnett's (of The Pentagon's New Map fame), article in Esquire, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Before we flash-back to that article, let's go straight to Thomas E. Ricks' (of Fiasco fame), quote from Fox Actual concerning Burnett's article and reporting,
Asked about the article yesterday, Fallon called it "poison pen stuff" that is "really disrespectful and ugly." He did not cite specific objections.
I guess he is off the Christmas Card list.

It is also helpful to look at Barnett's article itself and read it in full to get a feel on the "why & how." They "why & how" it was written. What I won't do, as Fallon's comment above give me pause as to the veracity of the dictation, is to comment on the "conversations" Barnett has in his article. I will say that I am sure that it is a reminder to all that anyone in civilian dress with a pen and paper is not, even if they say so, your friend. They are looking for money and publication - and will use you to get both. Off the record might be - just between the two of us never is.

Moving on. It important to read the article so that you fully understand why Fallon made the comments about Burnett to Ricks that he did. That is what I am going to do. Instead of substance that I am scratching my head about, I am going to go with style. Fun, fun.

First of all, the article is embarrassing to read. It is full of puffery, clunky over-wrought prose, and in places puts Fallon out there as some demi-god seer - as if he is the only man - messiah like - who is keeping everything from China to Israel from going b@ttsh1t. L

et's look at some of this FOD that cut Admiral Fallon off at the knees.

1. The picture you see in the upper right hand corner is the one from the article. Nuff said.

2. Does the author have a certain agenda or world-view? Hmmmm....does he hang out with Skippy?
When Dick Cheney has rattled his saber, ... war spasms ... this sclerotic administration, ... hard-liners led by Cheney ... President George W. Bush, regularly trash-talks his way to World War III ... Those are fighting words to your average neocon--not to mention your average supporter of Israel, a good many of whom in Washington seem never to have served a minute in uniform. ... eager-to-please General David Petraeus in Iraq ... No wonder Fallon sticks out like a sore thumb with the neocons, who have the unfortunate tendency to come off as unpredictable to their allies and predictable to their enemies. Which is the opposite of strategy. ...
3. Accuracy?
.."Fox," which was his fighter-pilot call sign..
Who fact checks at Esquire? No. He is not a pilot, he is a Naval Flight Officer. He has nothing to do with fighters, he was a RA-5C and A-6 NFO. Huge difference, just ask the fighter guys....
Thirty minutes after we've left the maze of barricades that line every entrance into the Green Zone, giving the place a sort of Maxwell Smart sense of never-ending doors, we arrive at a military airport where two Black Hawk UH-60's await. ... Minutes after takeoff, as is the universal custom among military personnel, everyone but the personal-security-detail soldiers is asleep.
The "Green Zone" in Baghdad I know - but Kabul? Also, I have see a lot of sleeping in my day, but not in a UH-60 type helo on a low and fast flight from Kabul to Bamiyan.
We're met at the landing zone by the Kiwi colonel, Brendon Fraher, who leads a small unit of New Zealand's finest civil-affairs specialists operating out of a small fort a few clicks away. The camp is home to a Provincial Reconstruction Team manned by the Kiwis, who work hand in glove with U. S. State Department, U. S. Agency for International Development, and ISAF personnel in coordinating coalition reconstruction aid to this province.
Right now I hear people from New Zealand to Foggy Bottom to DC to Kabul laughing thier heads off.
"Remember," he says, "my first day on this job, I was greeted by the IRGC snatching the British sailors, ...
In his official bio, it has Fallon taking over CENTCOM 16 MAR 07. My BBC timeline has them being taken on 23 MAR 07. Fact-checker call your office - again.

4. Puffery: ungh. Does Barnett have a poster on the ceiling above his bed of the pic above?
When Fallon is serious, his voice is feathery and he tends to speak in measured toans that, taken together, say, Have no fear. Let Washington be a tempest. Wherever I am is the calm center of the storm. ... Fallon is the American at the center of every circle in this part of the world. And it is a testament to his skill, and to the failure of American diplomacy, that so much is left for this military man to do himself. ... As the admiral recounts the exchange, his voice is flat, his gaze steady. His calculus on this subject is far more complex than anyone else's. ... He doesn't react like Pavlov's dog ... When the time came for dinner toasts, after the Chinese commander thanked Mrs. Fallon for coming, the admiral returned the favor by thanking the commander's wife for her many years of service as a military spouse. The commander's wife broke down in tears, saying it was the first time in her entire marriage that she had been publicly recognized for her many sacrifices.

And there was peace in our time. ... Fallon--who's done this sort of thing so often, he seems to glide through the protocol- ... As before, there is the text and the subtext. Admiral William Fallon shakes his head slowly, and his eyes say, These guys have no idea how much worse it could get for them. I am the reasonable one.
5. Style. I almost expect the cover of a cheap and cheesy pulp-fiction "Private-I" novel with Fabio shirtless to be part of a lawsuit in this somehow.
Pakistan's there in one corner, threatening to boil over and spill its nuclear jihadists forth upon the world; in another, the Gaza Strip continues to hum like a bowstring ... Late that night, I am sitting with Fallon deep in the compound that encompasses the presidential palace and the International Security Assistance Force. We are alone inside the cramped office of ISAF's chief public-affairs officer. ... Fallon casually takes off the elastic bands that clamp his camo pants to his regulation tan boots. ... And when the real cards finally get played, that's when Fallon will double down. ... The first thing you notice is the face, the second is the voice.

A tall, wiry man with thinning white hair, Fallon comes off like a loner even when he's standing in a crowd. ... He knows this stuff cold, because he's had his hand on the stick for a very long time. ... I scan the moonscape that is the mountains west of Kabul. ... every walled compound looks like a fort out of America's Wild West days.
6. Star Wars. Huh?
It's the barroom scene from Star Wars, with more national uniforms than I can count. ... It's manned by a rather short fellow whose face is almost completely obscured by his Star Wars blast shield.
This final bit is the kicker.
And time will tell whether being reasonable will cost Admiral William Fallon his command.
No, actually - but your poison pen did a fine job. Lesson identified for all. Remember what the "press" did to Patton and Fallon. The pen is mightier than the sword.

Rarely has such a great man been taken down by such a poorly written work. Say what you want about ADM Fallon, but he deserved a better executioner than this.

That's it. I'm through attacking the messenger.

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