Czard Work

2 comments April 12th, 2007at 07:00am Posted by Eli

Too funny:

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration’s difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

“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 who was among those rejecting the job. 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,’ ” he said.

(…)

To fill such a role, the White House is searching for someone with enough stature and confidence to deal directly with heavyweight administration figures such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Besides Sheehan, sources said, the White House or intermediaries have sounded out retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and retired Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, who also said they are not interested. Ralston declined to comment; Keane confirmed he declined the offer, adding: “It was discussed weeks ago.”

Kurt Campbell, a Clinton administration Pentagon official who heads the Center for a New American Security, said the difficulty in finding someone to take the job shows that Bush has exhausted his ability to sign up top people to help salvage a disastrous war. “Who’s sitting on the bench?” he asked. “Who is there to turn to? And who would want to take the job?”

(…)

“There’s the residue of the Cheney view — ‘We’re going to win, al-Qaeda’s there’ — that justifies anything we did,” he said. “And then there’s the pragmatist view — how the hell do we get out of Dodge and survive? Unfortunately, the people with the former view are still in the positions of most influence.” Sheehan said he wrote a note March 27 declining interest.

This is a great example of the Competence Vs. Loyalty Conundrum: Anyone smart enough and competent enough to do the job (which in this case means, “Minimize and contain the inevitable disaster”) is too smart to go along with Dubya’s Eternal Aimless War strategy. They would be the military equivalent of Christie Whitman as EPA Director.

The other interesting thing about this is that it feeds my long-held suspicion that Dubya only likes the perks and privileges of being president, but not the responsibilities. So he’s happy to gad about to various photo ops, collecting trophies and sports jerseys and personalized quasi-military jackets, but he absolutely hates and resents the responsibilities that come with the job. And that only gets worse as the job gets harder and the Congress gets less cooperative.

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Iraq,Republicans,War

2 Comments

  • 1. Spear and Magic  |  April 12th, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    > Dubya only likes the perks and privileges of
    > being president, but not the responsibilities

    On the nose. Especially when you consider this job description:

    > a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in
    > Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue
    > directions to the Pentagon, the State Department
    > and other agencies

    I thought we had such an office already, and Bushy held it.

  • 2. Eli  |  April 12th, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    I thought we had such an office already, and Bushy held it.

    Exactly. Rahm Emanuel made the exact same point.

    I’ve also seen some people link to an Onion story from a couple of years ago, about how Bush was about to appoint someone to run the country.


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