Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Fed-Ex War Czar

President Bush finally has his czar and he did it, reportedly, without having ever read Anna Karenina or War and Peace. Czars are easier to love the less you actually know about them.

Gendouglaslute President Bush finally has his czar and he did it, reportedly, without having ever read Anna Karenina or War and Peace. Czars are easier to love the less you actually know about them.
Bush’s choice was in the stars. All the four-star guys were unwilling. With Army Lt. Gen. (3 stars) Douglas Lute, Bush found his man or his man was found—put your own spin on it.
At any rate, the White House "war czar" is going to oversee the current mess in Iraq and the rapidly disintegrating situation in Afghanistan. Neither of them are actually a war in the sense of a defeatable enemy. Interestingly, spell-check doesn’t much like my use of the word ‘defeatable,’ which can't be found as a dictionary definition but seems to me to be both applicable and accurate for this ‘enemy.’
So good luck to Lute. His task is much like a definition I once read of fox-hunting; the incredible chasing the inedible.
I am the decider, except when I can't decide and the Commander in Chief, except when I haven’t the vaguest idea how to do it. Harry Truman would have been proud of you, George.
Bushwave
This president is clearly lost. His claim that civilians must not second-guess his generals on the ground is supposed, by constitutional caveat, to exclude himself as president.
Choosing a 3-star general to raise hell and give orders to four-star generals is yet another example of our president misunderstanding the military command. Our Commander in Chief has gone missing, as he was wont to do when he briefly served in the Texas Air National Guard.
(Washington Post) Lute, a three-star general now serving as chief operations officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in effect will jump over many superiors as he moves to the West Wing and assumes authority to deal directly with Cabinet secretaries and top commanders.
That ought to work well. Cabinet secretaries and top commanders are (were) supposed to be George Bush’s responsibility, but then there are so many distractions, what with all his appointments coming undone, the embarrassment of Gonzales and Wolfowitz. Bush and 72% of the country are praying equally for January 20th of 2009, when he can head to Texas and cut brush.
Cheneyadmonishing Left out of the Lute mandate is the vice-president. Leaving Dick Cheney off the list is much like asking Lute to supervise a Frank Lloyd Wright building without consulting the plans of Frank Lloyd Wright.
The president, who seems singularly least involved with this war has found another general to buffer him further. He's given his csar a mission impossible, failed to heed the advice of his 4-star on the ground (Petraeus) and calls that a winning hand. Aces and eights, George, aces and eights.
"General Lute is a tremendously accomplished military leader who understands war and government and knows how to get things done," Bush said.
Genpeterpace Which is why Lute was (at least) Bush's fifth pick for the job. One wonders if there is a compelling reason that General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is unable to accomplish Lute’s task. It's true that Pace has been kept extraordinarily busy kissing George Bush’s ass, but at least he holds appropriate rank.
Lute (like Iraq commander General David Petraeus), is on record as saying there is no possible military solution to ‘winning’ in Iraq and that political and diplomatic accommodation with adjoining countries is a better strategy than a surge. Having no such strategy to coordinate, one wonders if the job is anything more than an exercise in ‘whack-a-mole’ defense of the slogan of the moment.
Lute believed the situation in Iraq reflected the same mistakes as the ineffective and disorganized response to Hurricane Katrina, according to a source familiar with the debate. Like others at the Pentagon, he was also irked because civilian agencies, in his view, had not done nearly enough to help stabilize Iraq. And he was outspoken about the increasing strains on the U.S. military, officials said.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said Lute raised his concerns during talks before his selection. "He had the same skepticism a lot of us had," Hadley said. "That's one of the reasons we designed the strategy the way we did."
Was Bush in the room? Skepticism? Someone actually designed a strategy and forgot to tell us? Or is that yet another secret too scary to share with the American people, a breach of national security on a par with the reasons we tortured Jose Padilla.
The new war czar will consult with generals and diplomats in the field each morning, then join Hadley in briefing Bush and spend the rest of the day talking with officials such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to resolve any issues. "The goal is same-day service -- identify the problem in the morning and fix it in the afternoon," Hadley said. Unlike an earlier version of the plan, Hadley said, Lute will oversee both policy and implementation, assisted by a staff of 11.
There was a time when those were presidential tasks, but no more. No cheap-shot at Lute, he is a very talented and capable soldier, but oversight and implementation are no longer ‘decider’ issues. It has been decided that the in by nine, out by five fixer of problems gives the president another much needed layer of deniability.
The Fed-Ex war czar. Now, what happened to that package?
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