Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nobody wants to be the czar

General George directed America's entire military effort during WWII

e all know that Bush has proposed appointing a war "czar" to oversee and co-ordinate the operation in both Iraq and Afghanistan. So what's up with calling anyone who has a supervisory position a "czar"? That's what they used to call the hereditary leader of Russia, and the last one of those got shot in the revolution of 1917. How about we call him (or her, although there's fat chance of that) the Chief Patsy?

Answer: nobody will touch the appointment with a barge pole. As various (three so far) retired four stars were approached by the administration for the position, a typical response went something like this:
"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq.

"So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,'...I've never agreed on the basis of the war, and I'm still skeptical ... Not only did we not plan properly for the war, we grossly underestimated the effect of sanctions and Saddam Hussein on the Iraqi people."
The idea of having someone like a General of the Army George C. Marshall running overseas military activity doesn't seem to come from inside the administration itself (which is clearly incompetent and incapable of original thought), but from certain outsiders; e.g., the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank heavily funded by rabid right-wingers such as Richard Scaife.

At first glance, it may seem like a good idea, but there are critics of the move. The Washington Post reports that some say the idea misses the point.

"An individual can't fix a failed policy," said Carlos Pascual, former State Department coordinator of Iraq reconstruction, who is now a vice president at the Brookings Institute (a moderate-to-liberal think tank). "So the key thing is to figure out where the policy is wrong."

Which observation itself misses the point. The problem isn't where it went wrong; it's that the policy of being in Iraq at all is wrong.

Leave Iraq and the problem goes away.


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