Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cautious Optimism

Old farty Democrats like me have been burned so many times that it is pretty nigh impossible to talk about positive trends and signs of hope without a heaping dose of YeahBut thrown in, just for good measure. Still, I'm jumping on the Obama Train with all that "Hope" and "Change" and "Yes We Can" hoopla, and I have taken to spouting off predictions of a blowout this fall, even if I do keep my fingers crossed behind my back. Last time I had this much fun was watching Bill Clinton run circles around Newt Gingrich's Contract On America and, well, never mind.

Still, we take our good news happily and in whatever small doses it may come. Now, Glenn Greenwald seems far too young to be as jaded as he seems, but then that's the price one pays for caring about the Constitution and being a close observer of George W. Bush and his administration. So when he writes a post that expresses even a small measure of well-guarded optimism, it is something to take notice of.

Okay, on to the resignation of Admiral Fallon, which has greatly alarmed many progressives, such as myself who - with some justification - thought that he may have been all that stood between the Bush administration and an imminent attack on Iran. So when I read this over at Informed Comment, a site that I have come to rely on for some sane perspective on our involvement in the Middle East, I can't help but breathe a cautious sigh of relief:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates denied Tuesday that the abrupt resignation of Admiral William Fallon as CENTCOM commander indicates an imminent war against Iran. I think Gates's denial is credible. There is no sign of an American war on Iran, which would involve key positioning of warships, materiel and troops. There is no congressional mandate for such a thing, despite the non-binding Kyl-Lieberman resolution in the senate. A provocation is not out of the question, but it would be a risky move in an election year and could easily backfire on the Republican Party (ask Aznar in Spain).

My guess is that the real reason for moving Fallon out is not Iran but Iraq, and that he is being made to step down for the same reason that Donald Rumsfeld was. He does not agree with the long-term troop escalation or 'surge' in Iraq. He doesn't believe that counter-insurgency will work in Iraq in the medium term. And as an admiral, he has his eye on potential trouble spots such as Taiwan and North Korea, and is frustrated that the hands of the US are tied as long as it is bogged down in the Iraq quagmire.

Having such a big dissenter as CENTCOM commander is inconvenient for the Republican Party at a time when John McCain is admitting that if he fails to convince the American people that the surge is succeeding, he will lose the presidency. That is, Fallon may have run afoul not of Cheney on Iran but McCain on Iraq. This may be Bush's first favor to the Republican nominee, who after all had a career as a naval officer himself.
"Yeah, but..but...but.." we cynics sputter...We know how badly the neocons are chomping at the bit for an attack on Iran, and we know that they are nuts. And we certainly know that they have every reason to believe that they can get away with pretty much any outrageous behavior they put their puny little minds to. Why wouldn't they? Still, I'm prepared to grab onto whatever small shred of hope that Professor Cole is holding out for me. Dear God, PLEASE let him be right.

UPDATE: Digby. Read and weep.


Freewheel said...

The evidence is clear that they *want* to attack Iran. They launched the lying campaign about nukes and the revolutionary guard aiding and abetting and even fighting along with the insurgency in Iraq. And then...

NIE says refutes the administration on nukes. And the president of Iran comes to Baghdad and has a lovefest with the Iraqi leaders. ...when he's supposed to be the enemy.

If McCain wins, he'll start the propaganda anew. If he tanks, Bush might just go for it.

How's that for cynicism?

AnnPW said...

Far beyond your years, Freewheel!Anyone would think you were a lifelong DC resident...oh wait...

Ugh. It is way to painful to imagine McCain actually winning this election.

capmconnundrum said...

AS always, Rich man's war,poor man's fight. Same story as always. The Pogues, listen and weep.

capmconnundrum said...

That last comment may not have been very coherent. must confess to practicing up for St. Patty's day, the Catholic holiday which celebrates a genocide in Ireland.

AnnPW said...

Ach! For the record, Cap, drunken rants are always welcome here! I had a science teacher in, ninth grade think, who claimed that wearing green on St. Patrick's Day was for Catholics - and that Protestants should wear orange. I found it interesting at the time, but as I look back on it, even more so, and I wish I had taken the time to talk to her some more about that. It occurs to me now that she was clearly of Irish Protestant descent.