Former Admiral to U.S.: Fix Own Problems, Then Lecture Others

Retired admiral who oversaw U.S. Central Command calls American education system 'abysmal.'

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Navy Adm. William J. Fallon
Navy Adm. William J. Fallon

A former U.S. military commander has a blunt message for America: Fix your own myriad problems before lecturing Middle East nations about theirs.

From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pressing Iran to suspend its nuclear weapons program, Washington essentially is a bottomless well of advice and solutions. William "Fox" Fallon, a retired admiral who was U.S. Central Command chief, acknowledges both are "crucial" U.S. national security issues. But steps are needed at home to give Washington added credibility abroad.

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"We must fix ourselves before we can convince others of the righteousness of our policies," Fallon told a Dartmouth College audience Monday. "Our house needs to be put in order. The huge debt must be reduced, and the government put on a sound financial footing."

Fallon doesn't stop there, declaring America must "fix primary and secondary eduction" because "it's abysmal in too many places in this country."

The 2012 Global Innovation Index, published by Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organization, ranks the U.S. 31st out of 141 nations in K-12 education, and 74th in higher education, according to Education Week.

He also urges more investment in high technology sectors, as well as research and development. "It's the future," Fallon said.

To that end, the index ranks the U.S. 10th in innovation; America was seventh in that category in the 2011 version of the index.

Speaking of education, Fallon said U.S. officials must be better educated about the dynamics of a nation before repeating the 2003 Iraq invasion. After U.S. forces easily routed Saddam Hussein's forces and drove the former Iraqi strongman from power, the nation erupted into sectarian violence that kept the U.S. bogged down there much longer than the George W. Bush administration imagined.

John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter.

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