Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No Thanks, Mr. President

Talk about a shitty assignment. No wonder the billet is going unfilled.

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. ...

The administration's interest in the idea stems from long-standing concern over the coordination of civilian and military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan by different parts of the U.S. government. The Defense and State departments have long struggled over their roles and responsibilities in Iraq, with the White House often forced to referee. ...

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?" ...

In an interview yesterday, Sheehan said that Hadley contacted him and they discussed the job for two weeks but that he was dubious from the start. "I've never agreed on the basis of the war, and I'm still skeptical," Sheehan said. "Not only did we not plan properly for the war, we grossly underestimated the effect of sanctions and Saddam Hussein on the Iraqi people."

In the course of the discussions, Sheehan said, he called around to get a better feel for the administration landscape.

"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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really simple. Even for a bird-brain like Bush. Bernie Kerik, your country needs you.


4/11/2007 10:49 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


That is a pretty inspired choice.

A better combination of hubris, false macho, pig-headedness, and bullying ignorance would be difficult to find in any one candidate.

4/11/2007 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why thank you Mr. Eff. You are too kind.

Bush and Bernie are birds of a feather... It's just that one was born with a silver spoon...


4/11/2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Quite right.

In fact, the constant foiling of Bernie's attempts to move up in the world of big money and power seems like the archetypal pattern wherein the lowly-born social climber meets formidable obstacles at every step.

The invisible barriers are too strong for even a thug like Kerik to overcome.

4/11/2007 1:22 PM  

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