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Speculation persists about Admiral Fallon's departure from Pentagon

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Despite speculation that the sudden retirement Tuesday of Adm. William Fallon, the head of US Central Command, might suggest a push by the White House toward war with Iran, Admiral Fallon's resignation appears not to be a signal of new hostilities.

Fallon had publicly opposed possible military action against Iran. But, The Washington Post reports, the Bush administration's support for a military strike has eroded in recent months.

[President] Bush has publicly maintained that he wants to use diplomacy to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, but he has pointedly refused to take the military option off the table. Some experts cautioned that Bush's views could still trump his advisers' contrary opinions. Yet, the administration's ability to execute such a strategy has been weakened in recent months, said former officials and Iran experts, in large measure because a November intelligence estimate on Iran lessened anxieties that the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons capability is imminent. "The way [White House officials] see Iran has not gone away," said Vali Nasr, an authority on Iran at Tufts University. "Their capacity to do something has been cut down."

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