Many of you will remember that I once called Admiral William Fallon the "canary in our coal mine."
I spoke of how Fallon’s appointment to head our military’s Central Command (containing all forces now stationed in the Middle East) was a sure sign -- along with the rise of Adm. Mike Mullen to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- that the U.S. Officer Corps had had enough. That they had -- quietly and sub-rosa -- made things clear to the Bush Administration. The wanton and reckless destruction of the American military would no longer be tolerated. Nor would the abuse of our service men and women -- treating them as toys -- be allowed to continue.
Why a “canary”? Because, as long as Fallon remained in place as Cent Com Commander, we could rest assured that a large stumbling block stood between Bush and some trumped-up Middle East distraction/calamity, like a precipitate attack upon Iran. (Fallon is said to have told colleagues - off the record - that "an attack on Iran will not happen on my watch.")
Now Fallon is gone. The man who (in addition to Mullen) helped me to sleep at night, knowing that some adults still endured, somewhere high in the chain of command, who would keep doing the job we hired and trained and pay them for -- to look out for us. I said that this canary would have to fall, giving us some warning, before the brats could make another reckless, ruinous move. And like coal miners, seeing their watch-bird fall, we have reason to grow worried.
Of course, it is possible that this step may not be a prelude to a new war. The Bush Administration may just be taking an opportunity to eliminate a thorn in its shoe. A thorn that was forced upon it, last year, by a simmering and angry US Officer Corps. It may be that recent, lower casualty rates in Iraq have emboldened Bush. There may be less fear of mass resignations, with everybody distracted by the political season
Still, is the fall of our "canary" truly a sign? Are there other signs to watch for?
First: we need to learn more about Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey, who becomes CENTCOM Commander as of March 31st. One might guess that he was Bush’s man, when the Mullen/Fallon deal was struck, last year, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt... and start asking around.
If, as traditional, a more permanent replacement is appointed soon, then watch for portents. If it is another admiral, then perhaps we'll be okay. For it can only mean that Secretary of Defense Gates is still potent and still listening to the informal network of flag officers who began the quiet, discreet "work action" by our adult protector caste, back in 2007.
In fact, given the blatant symbolism of appointing two Navy guys in a row, this would be a very powerful signal. So clear that even our dullard punditocracy might notice. And, for that reason, I don’t give it much chance.
If (as seems almost certain) Fallon’s full-term replacement is an Army general -- or if they stick with Dempsey -- then we need to listen, ask our military contacts (off the record) and try to read the tea leaves. We are in for nervous times. If it is a notorious Bushite loyalist, watch out.
And if the new Cent Com leader comes from the Air Force, then Hannah, get the cows! Sell your portfolio, stock up on canned goods and get out of the cities. Mind you, I don't expect this to happen... and there could still be an Iranattack with an army man in charge. Especially if some kind of “terror” pretext just happens to occur on US soil, offering a conveniently-timed. Pearl Harbor casus belli.
Nevertheless, I'm putting this dire possibility on the record, here. The most blatant sign to watch for. There would be only one reason to appoint a general from the USAF - the most pliant and suborned of our services - to that crucial role. It would only happen if the National Command Authority (Bush & Cheney) want to order bombers into action with a minimum of interference and a maximum of heel-clicking gusto.
In which case, if you have a son or daughter on a carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf, tell them (in family code) to shoot themselves in the foot. Because those poor Navy guys will be sitting ducks, amid the hell that will ensue. (Of course, in the extreme “thriller plot,” that could be part of what this is all aimed to achieve.)
But hold it. Pause. Let’s back off from all the paranoid, thriller scenarios. It is possible that the firing of Admiral Fallon is simply a case of a failing administration, swatting aside one of the adults it despises. Just another part of the ongoing War Against Professionalism, which has been the single central and core theme of the Bush Era. The Officer Corps has borne the brunt of this hidden war - more consistent than any other endeavor, even Iraq - the real war debilitating America. A campaign whose victims also include the intelligence services, the FBI, the civil service, the scientific community, anywhere that skill matters. Though the military has suffered most of all.
Let me tell you what depresses me most... the fact that this... ALL of this... seems to be completely below the radar of the Democratic candidates or political caste. Or what little news media isn’t controlled. Or even the blogosphere. Nobody seems capable of stepping back and reading Big Picture patterns...
...or seeing the opportunity hidden in the mayhem. For if anyone vigorously and decisively stood up for the Admiral Fallons out there, the men and women of the professional service caste, upon whom civilization utterly depends, then they would feel more free to speak out! And the decent “ostrich conservatives” whose heads still wallow in holes would then have to wake up. They would stand up, and join the coalition to save our country. ..
... leaving the fanatics and kleptos out on a limb they have been very busy sawing off.
MISCELLANEOUS POLITICAL MATTERS
Reminder: Only Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary; the state's 984,000 independents - and GOP converts - have only until March 24 to sign up so they can vote in the interesting part of the election. Tell any indies you know in PA!
The Onion is a hoot. “Live free or die-bold.”
Ask me if I ever tire of saying I told you so? SAUDI Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted. Previously secret files, just revealed, describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries. Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court on Thursday to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. Um... and yet I am “paranoid” for contemplating all of this just one step further? Hrm.
On the other hand, shortly after I returned from Liechtenstein, that tiny nation is suddenly in the news, with German and US tax authorities applying pressure on the little country to offer more transparency in their banking records. Coincidental timing? No doubt. I’m just not that influential.
Alas, though. We have other problems. Mmm, let's see...surely the U.S. ranks SOMEWHERE on this list. A list that ought to give conservatives conniptions. That is, if they were conservative, any longer.
As if they ever were. Whereupon we mark the passing of William F. Buckley... a fellow who joins Colin Powell and so many other “adult conservatives” who could have - should have - stepped forward during the Neocon Madness. Who could and should have shown the guts and patriotism that liberals did, way back in 1947, when democrats admitted “our side of the spectrum can go mad and it is our job to do something, when that happens”...
...and then they actively did something about it.
THIS is the essential difference between liberalism and conservatism. It has nothing to do with “left or right” or state vs market. The chief difference is that liberals passed their fundamental test, fifty years ago, choosing patriotism, reason, and civilization over spirals of self justifying dogma. And conservatives have utterly failed their own test, during this crucial decade, when similar levels of adult fortitude were called for. When it was their historical and patriotic duty to stand up to their own side’s wave of rapacious barbarians and monsters. Alas, they did not. So long, Bill.
You folks have got to see this - “Video: Interviewer Picks The Wrong Obama Supporter to Try To Railroad.” Talk about making a gotcha-geek eat crow over his first impressions! This kid will probably be offered a job, next January.