AFP: The White House said Wednesday that “there is no one” inside the US government who wants war with Iran, even though US President George W. Bush has not ruled out any options. WASHINGTON (AFP) The White House said Wednesday that “there is no one” inside the US government who wants war with Iran, even though US President George W. Bush has not ruled out any options.
“There’s no one in the administration that is suggesting anything other than a diplomatic approach to Iran,” spokeswoman Dana Perino said one day after the commander of US forces in the Middle East resigned.
Perino said “it’s nonsense” to say that Admiral William Fallon was pushed out because he reportedly disagreed with Bush’s hardline approach towards forcing Tehran to end its suspect nuclear program.
“The president welcomes robust and healthy debate,” she said, adding that there were “dissenting views on a variety of issues that get worked out through our policy process. That is usually not played out in the press.”
“What the president has said is that all options are on the table is what helps make diplomacy work and makes it more effective,” she said.
Fallon said in a statement Tuesday that he was stepping down because reports that he differed with Bush over Iran — chiefly an article in Esquire magazine — had become “a distraction.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced he had accepted Fallon’s resignation “with reluctance and regret,” saying there was a “mis-perception” that the admiral was at odds with the administration over Iran.
But the sudden departure of the head of the US Central Command drew an avalanche of criticism from top Democrats who suggested that he had been forced out because of his candor.
Asked about Esquire’s contention that Fallon’s removal would signal the United States was preparing to go to war with Iran, Gates said: “Well, that’s just ridiculous.”
In an admiring profile of the admiral, Esquire writer Thomas Barnett portrayed Fallon as “The Man Between War and Peace,” crediting him with calming tensions with Iran last year while bucking a White House move toward war.
“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,” said the article.
“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.”