FOX FALLON….Last night I read Thomas P.M. Barnett’s Esquire profile of CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon and thought, “Damn. I want someone to write a puff piece like that about me someday.” Barnett admiringly portrays Fallon as sort of a cross between Patton and Teddy Roosevelt, with bits of Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and T.E. Lawrence thrown in for good measure, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Thomas Ricks reports Fallon’s reaction:

Asked about the article yesterday, Fallon called it “poison pen stuff” that is “really disrespectful and ugly.” He did not cite specific objections.

Barnett reports that Fallon has taken a generally less bombastic approach toward China and Iran than the Bush administration has, but this has been pretty well reported before, so it’s hardly breaking news. Most likely the “ugly” part was this:

Well-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up next spring, maybe as early as this summer, in favor of a commander the White House considers to be more pliable. If that were to happen, 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.

And so Fallon, the good cop, may soon be unemployed because he’s doing what a generation of young officers in the U. S. military are now openly complaining that their leaders didn’t do on their behalf in the run-up to the war in Iraq: He’s standing up to the commander in chief, whom he thinks is contemplating a strategically unsound war.

Gotta go with James Joyner and Bill Arkin on this: Barnett is pretty clearly implying that if George Bush ordered an attack on Iran, Fallon couldn’t be trusted to carry it out. And this theme, namely that Fallon is doing his best to actively frustrate the intent of the military’s civilian commander-in-chief, runs throughout the entire piece. Barnett’s basis for saying this is pretty iffy, and it’s no surprise that Fallon took it as a serious insult.

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