When Military Leaders Go Antiwar

John Glaser, March 01, 2012

You know, I don’t give military officials enough credit sometimes. NIAC reports on a CSIS panel last week, quoting former military officials on whether or not to attack Iran:

“We are reaching this crescendo of talk – just constant – war, war, war,” said former CENTCOM Commander, Admiral William J. Fallon.  “It’s almost like the old movie, the black and white, beating the drum, and the galley slaves.  And the chant goes on.  Certainly not very helpful at all.”

Fallon spoke on a panel hosted by CSIS along with former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright last week.  The panelists were in firm agreement that a military operation to try to stop Iran’s nuclear program is a bad option for the United States.

When asked if a military strike could prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, General Cartwright replied bluntly, “no.”  He explained, “you’re not going to kill the intellectual capital to just rebuild the centrifuges someplace else and continue on.”

Asked whether others in the military believed that a military strike on Iran would be prudent, the men indicated they did not. “No one that I’m aware of [in the military] thinks that there’s any real positive outcome of a military strike or some kind of conflict,” Admiral Fallon said.

…”At the end of the day,” said Admiral Fallon, “these are people - 70,000,000 of them.  They have aspirations and desires, and there needs to be room for demonstrated cooperation and a willingness to walk away from things that are detrimental to the region–that there’s something in this for them.  And so, having some light at the end of the tunnel, not closing off all options, but letting them know ‘hey, we’re willing to have you play a role in the region.  You got a lot of capability, you got a lot of smart people, a lot of things you could really be helpful [with] if you decided to be cooperative in your dealings with your neighbors.’”

Admiral William J. Fallon and General James Cartwright are echoing current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey’s statements in recent weeks, that an attack on Iran would be pointless, dangerous, and unwise.

The message is not just anti-attacking-Iran and pro-peaceful-negotiations, but it also is a sincere attempt to get people to understand that the leadership in Iran is not some crazed, almost caricatured monolith. The media’s propaganda on Iran, and much of the talk from half-retarded politicians, paints the regime as an evil, fanatical, uncompromising group of people committed both to terrorism and the apocalyptic destruction of Israel and everyone in it. These military men are saying: no, if you simply talk to them and give them options and understand their incentive structure, war can easily be avoided.

Various hawks in Washington in part base their pro-war jingoism and faultless American exceptionalism on being pro-military and pro-soldier. From that hellish trio of Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman to the GOP contenders, much of that ideological rhetoric is based on elevating the top military brass to a heroic, almost sacred stature. Yet they still continue the pro-war rhetoric and systematic threat-inflation, despite the sensible, even antiwar talk coming from people like Fallon, Cartwright, and Dempsey. We don’t see them modifying their positions based on what the military leadership says.

It’s notable that the political pressure to support monstrous aggression and intervention abroad seems to come from the media and the politicians, not – at least in this case – from the military and intelligence community. The political spectrum basically has room for pro-war and very pro-war and this appears to feed on itself. The American people are fickle enough that if the admirals and generals were the ones they listened to instead of demagoguing politicians, they’d exercise more sober thinking here as well. But the people don’t hear Dempsey or Panetta or Clapper making the case against war; they hear the Santorums and Ed Schultzes of the world.

[Just as an aside, this is not to give undue credit to the military and intelligence community. While they and the administration have been decidedly against preemptively striking Iran, policies like crippling sanctions, covert war, and military encirclement are regressive and are more likely to be a prelude to war than doing what ought to be done (i.e. negotiations, dropping the double standard on Israel, etc.).]




16 Responses to “When Military Leaders Go Antiwar”

  1. Well said Mr. Glaser. I've only one modest disagreement here – "The media’s propaganda on Iran, and much of the talk from half-retarded politicians…"
    The politicians are NOT 'half-retarded' oh no, they are full blown need to be straight jacketed lunatic retarded. By the by, for the sake of our shared and common future, the hellish trio of Graham, McCain, and Lieberman should be forthwith sent to Guantanamo for some time out and a nappies. "Hellish trio", that's a good one.

  2. [...] enough to speak out against the constant warmongering going on in the US media and government, as reported by John Glaser at Antiwar.com. Fallon’s frank assessment of the warmongering and opposition within the military to [...]

  3. Half retarded? You're absolutely spot on. They're beyond that.

  4. Note how the neocons elevate the brass "to a heroic, almost sacred stature" when they join in the warmongering (think McKristol and Grievous Petraeus).. If they don't, however, they're smeared in the lamestream media 24/7 and hounded into retirement, as the pragmatists were in the run-up to the Iraq debacle. (Lower ranks, of course, are simply terminated with extreme prejudice, a la Pat Tillman.)

    Articles like this always remind me of this famous movie. Why couldn't that scenario happen in reverse? Imagine a group of courageous generals and members of Congress who take their oaths to defend the Constitution seriously and depose a warmongering president. (As a last resort they would issue him an ultimatum: Ask Congress for a formal declaration of war, or we will drag you from the White House in chains.) While the Bush-Cheney regime would have been the most obvious target for such a coup, it could also have applied to Clinton in 1999, Bush I in 1991, LBJ in 1965 or Truman in 1950.

  5. [...] who told Fareed Zakaria war with Iran would not be “prudent.” It’s well-known senior military figures are opposed to a war with Iran, and the rank-and-file are probably even less sympathetic to the prospect: [...]

  6. [...] who told Fareed Zakaria war with Iran would not be “prudent.” It’s well-known senior military figures are opposed to a war with Iran, and the rank-and-file are probably even less sympathetic to the prospect: [...]

  7. Note how the neocons elevate the brass "to a heroic, almost sacred stature" when they join in the warmongering (think McKristol and Grievous Petraeus).. If they don't, however, they're smeared in the lamestream media 24/7 and hounded into retirement, as the pragmatists were in the run-up to the Iraq debacle. (Lower ranks, of course, are simply terminated with extreme prejudice, a la Pat Tillman.)

    Good point. I wonder how long it will take the ADL and other Israeli propaganda organs to begin calling the military leadership antisemitic? That seems to be the thing to do for anyone that steps out of line.

  8. I've been wondering if any of these war mongering, treasonous, bought & paid for Israel-Firster stooges who are either in our US Congress or out there running for the GOP stooge-for-Israel nomination to run against the Kenyan this November are noticing the massive amounts of money that the members of the US military are sending to Ron Paul – who is the only anti-war candidate running, and I wonder if the pea-sized brains of these Israel-Firster treasonous rats are capable of feeling a little queasy and nervous about the implications of their screaming for wars that the military clearly isn't interested in fighting?

    There comes a point where one single match is all that will be needed to ignite what is eventually going to have to happen, if this nation is to survive and that can't happen unless and until these blood-thirsty, mentally insane, chicken hawk psychopaths are physically removed from power.

    Also, I have a very strong feeling that – as spoiled and as disconnected from hardships and realities and from the misery that we have sat by and allowed our criminal, out of control, war mongering-without-end neo-con hijacked government to inflict on the innocent, helpless people of countless foreign nations for not one morally justifiable or defensible reason – that the day Americans are finally treated to a few dozen or so nuclear missiles hitting our homeland, as a result of these crazy neo-cons and their criminally insane war mongering – well, that could easily be the same day 1776 The Sequel is launched. And, the US military would very likely be on the side of the people, not the neo-cons.

    Just as Thomas Jefferson predicted, every 20 years or so, just to clean out the criminal rabble.

  9. It would be a good thing if a reverse situation of "Seven Days in May" would happen if this situation gets any more out of hand. Unfortunately, I think the vast majority of the US military, including the top brass, are brainwashed drones and would blindly follow any orders given to them. The fact that that Ron Paul is receiving major donations from military personnel is irrelevant–do we see anyone in the military refusing to obey any of the clearly unconstitiutional and unlawful orders issiued to them and still fighting the damn wars for Israel? No, we don't. Not until all this crap finally blows back on us, and their own families and relatives start dying will they start seriously questioning all this and saying "No" to their "superiors".

  10. [...] former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. The ad is an indication of the widespread belief within the military and intelligence community that a war with Iran is both unnecessary and extremely dangerous. President Obama has faced [...]

  11. [...] former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. The ad is an indication of the widespread belief within the military and intelligence community that a war with Iran is both unnecessary and extremely dangerous. President Obama has faced [...]

  12. [...] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. The ad is an indication of the widespread belief within the military and intelligence community that a war with Iran is both unnecessary and extremely dangerous. President Obama has faced [...]

  13. [...] [...]

  14. [...] former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. The ad is an indication of the widespread belief within the military and intelligence community that a war with Iran is both unnecessary and extremely dangerous. President Obama has faced [...]

  15. [...] Fallon and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General General James Cartwright said as much in a CSIS panel a few weeks ago, adding that the talk of attacking Iran essentially amounts to [...]

  16. The best blog always in th? nh?a serves information regarding products ads