Griffs Notes 4/11/07

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From the Department of Dumb Ideas comes this stroke of genius: The Washington Post reports today that the White House has approached some retired military brass about a new position: War Czar.

The Post says that this high-powered czar would “oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies.” And the Post also says that three retired generals approached about it have already said thanks, but NO THANKS!

One of those generals quoted in the piece, former NATO Commander Gen. John J. “Jack” Sheehan (no relation to my Code Pink pal), had this to say:

The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going… so rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, ‘no thanks.’

The White House denies that this new position has been officially created and given the negative press it has already received; I’d be very surprised to see it developed. White House Spokesperson Dana Perino told reporters today that the idea for the position came about as a “possible structure change” on the heels of a personnel change at the NSC. Meghan O’Sullivan was the most senior person at the NSC working exclusively on the wars, reporting to NSC Director Stephen Hadley, until announcing her intention to leave.

I have several issues with this idea – but for brevity, let me state the obvious.

Number One: the President is the Commander In Chief. While we are fighting a war (or multiple wars), he is in charge of “overseeing” them. Period.

Number Two: the answer to the White House’s war woes could not possibly be more bureaucracy! We already have a Homeland Security Department, the TSA and a Director of National Intelligence – that’s enough creation thank you very much. What’s next? The Baghdad Valley Authority (BTA) and Ronald Reagan would surely roll in his grave.

Number Three: The last time I checked, we go to war as a last resort. Doesn’t creating a War Czar give the impression that we are always going to be at war with someone?

Consider the announcement today by Defense Secretary Bob Gates: Tours for all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq just got extended from 12 months to 15 months. I doubt anyone is happy about that news. So what exactly would our War Czar have to say about this matter? Did he “direct” or “oversee” this change?

We already have a Commander in Chief making the “decisions.” We have a Secretary of State for diplomacy and a Secretary of Defense for manpower and war fighting. We have a Central Commander in Admiral Fallon in charge of managing the wars. We have a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in Gen Pace overseeing all the branches of the service. And unfortunately, we also now have a Congress that thinks it’s in charge of overseeing wars.

Ideas are just that – ideas. Some are good. Some are bad. Unfortunately for the once leak-proof White House, this one got out prematurely and now we all know about it. Want my take on it? This is a bad one.

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