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Thread: 3 Generals Spurn the Position of War "Czar"

  1. #41
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Great Idea !

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    And my frustration grows Tom, as I read this and wonder aloud, "Why the hell aren't we worried about executing the strategy until it has successfully run it's course?" Screw being concerned about election timelines.

    Someone, regardless of party, is going to get a nice squishy ball of wax to play hot potato with.

    I nominate Odom for czar!!!
    I second that recommendation, Tom

    You should get a sneaky NCO for this

  2. #42
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Wm,

    Your points are valid and part of the US culture. That is why the Army has no General Staff and why about three or four decades ago Congress made it known that the Army was not to adopt the beret like other militaries, because it looked "too professional."

    But the position of National Security Advisor and the National Security Council was created to better inter-agency cooperation in the first place. Fixing it in my mind means making it work, not kicking the can down the road with "Czars" and late blooming realizations that a war that has cost so much in lives and money is indeed important.

    I would further submit to you that we fought a much harder war, fielding millions of Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors, created almost from scratch the most technologically advanced functional military forces of the day, and we won WWII in less time than has elaspsed since 9-11. All of that was done before we reorganized the national security structure, a redesign that added levels of bureacracy.

    I guess I would say to you fundamentally that culturally and constitutionally mandated separation of powers is not a defense for sluggish, amateurish floundering.

    Now I am stepping off my soap box...

    Best

    Tom
    Tom,
    I'm glad you brought up WWII as an example of how to make things work. I suggest that we were successful because the folks who did the coordinating were good at it and had the charisma to make it happen.
    The NSC leadership role requires some like a George Marshall or a Dwight Eisenhower to make it work. When someone like Brent Scowcroft sat in that chair, the organization did the things it was supposed to do. I know little about the incumbent, but it seems like we do not the right guy running the show.
    I agree that there is no excuse for floundering and half-stepping by the holder of position that was created to beat down the roadblocks. My point was that we might not get much else these days because our rising leadership generation does not have the background and experience to force compliance on a playground where all the kids think they get to make their own rules and no one has to play the same game.
    Back in the early days of the Roman Empire, they ruled the known world with about 400 civil servants. By the time of Constantine (about 300 years) that number had swelled to over 40,000. iI about 100 more years, the city of Rome was sacked by the Goths.

  3. #43
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tom Odom
    I would further submit to you that we fought a much harder war, fielding millions of Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors, created almost from scratch the most technologically advanced functional military forces of the day, and we won WWII in less time than has elaspsed since 9-11. All of that was done before we reorganized the national security structure, a redesign that added levels of bureacracy.
    I agree with Tom - The nation was at war during WWII - the whole nation. Driven by a sense of purpose that allowed political leadership to focus national will and resources, and the system worked because of it. Given that most of the nation is currently at the mall, and more worried about why Sinjia has not been voted off then if we prevail in Iraq and Afganistan (or for that matter anywhere) I don't think it would matter if you make a czar or not. If people are unwilling to work together and find solutions they will wait you out, or expend vast ammounts of energy to circumvent the best of efforts. Thre are too many people who don't want to be uncomfortable.

    Until our political leadership can harness the full will and resources available, the position of czar is an empty hat. No wonder its been declined by some very talented retired generals.

  4. #44
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    Because I finally saw Flags of Our Fathers on DVD, it gives me reason to offer up that though the nation was at war in WWII, the folks grew tired then as well, over time.

  5. #45
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Gotta say, this has been one of the better threads I've read anywhere.

    In Democracy in America, De Tocqueville prognosticated that the United States would not survive for long because of the many small interests competing in the country. As it turns out, America has probably survived for as long as it has because of those many conflicting special interests. They have prevented the nation's being overwhelmed by a tyranny of the majority. Contrast our country’s relatively peaceful internal disagreements with the struggle in Iraq between Shia (empowered majority) and Sunni (largely disempowered minority). Attribution of the conflict to religious differences is, I believe, largely a misapprehension of the social dynamic--conflict is almost always about power.
    Note that we cannot forget our own history here. A mere 25 years after de Tocqueville published, the U.S. fought a rather massive civil war that was, so far, much bloodier than what has gone on in Iraq (assuming you do not subscribe to the Lancet). The aftermath of this featured decades of racial terrorism against African-Americans throughout the South. I trust that the history of Native Americans does not have to be rehashed here as well - let us just note that Phil Sheridan would not have had many quibbles with Ali Hassan al-Majid in his methods in crushing uppity natives.

  6. #46
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Originally posted by JC,
    Because I finally saw Flags of Our Fathers on DVD, it gives me reason to offer up that though the nation was at war in WWII, the folks grew tired then as well, over time.
    JC, makes you wonder if we should poll the average guy on what his suspense "might " be prior to taking policy to the next level. I once took part in a discussion about the letters between Jefferson and Madison where the former advocated the value of 1 man 1 vote and the I believe the latter took the position of why the "common" man might not be the best to put policy in the hands of, since he might have more pressing issues

    Anybody read what Sen Kerry said yesterday - something to the effect of "the reason nobody wants the job is because the White House strategy has little chance of success" - paraphrased from the early bird - but fairly close. Another example of how politicians will twist reactions, etc to further their personal agendas.

  7. #47
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    That sounds like a pretty reasonable paraphrase of Gen Jack Sheehan's response.

    "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.
    Last edited by tequila; 04-13-2007 at 01:03 PM.

  8. #48
    Council Member Dr Jack's Avatar
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    Default Now it's at least 5 Generals...

    This morning it appears that there have now been at least 5 generals who have turned down the "War Czar" job:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...l?hpid=topnews

    Retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, retired Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston and retired Air Force Gen. John P. Jumper have said they are not interested, according to sources or the generals themselves, and CBS News said retired Marine Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm also demurred.
    The article also gives some additional insight into the new job:

    According to the proposal, the execution manager would develop "clearly assigned responsibility, deadlines, performance metrics (as appropriate) and a system of accountability to ensure progress" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other key Cabinet officers would assign a "trusted agent" to work with the new White House official.

    Hadley said the idea is to "fix problems in Washington that are in the way," not to rewrite the chain of command or take over operational decisions. The official would work through Cabinet secretaries to solve problems, but would have enough clout to ensure follow-through.

    "My goal is to make the person really work for and be seen to work for the president, and be able to speak in his name," Hadley said. "I can do it, and I do do it, but I can't do it and North Korea and Iran and all the other things I've got to do." (He said he will jettison the title "execution manager" to avoid unintended double meaning.)
    This job gets better and better...

  9. #49
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    Better to find more qualified to staff the PRTs we so desperately need, me thinks.

    This makes me think of a sig line I've seen on another board, where a Czech officer is quoted as saying, "I am an officer, where is my office?"

    Interagency coordination is great, but what do we do when one of the agencies can't (or won't) shoulder its share of the burden? Are we any closer to staffing those critical DoS slots for the PRTs?

    Is anyone more keen to head to the Green Zone now that they've seen the BGs bring the fight to us within a damn cafeteria?

  10. #50
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Leadership

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Tom,
    I'm glad you brought up WWII as an example of how to make things work. I suggest that we were successful because the folks who did the coordinating were good at it and had the charisma to make it happen.
    The NSC leadership role requires some like a George Marshall or a Dwight Eisenhower to make it work. When someone like Brent Scowcroft sat in that chair, the organization did the things it was supposed to do. I know little about the incumbent, but it seems like we do not the right guy running the show.
    I agree that there is no excuse for floundering and half-stepping by the holder of position that was created to beat down the roadblocks. My point was that we might not get much else these days because our rising leadership generation does not have the background and experience to force compliance on a playground where all the kids think they get to make their own rules and no one has to play the same game.
    Back in the early days of the Roman Empire, they ruled the known world with about 400 civil servants. By the time of Constantine (about 300 years) that number had swelled to over 40,000. iI about 100 more years, the city of Rome was sacked by the Goths.
    Maybe if the French Canadians sack DC, we can start over

    Your point on leadership is EXTREMELY well taken (forgive the caps). Forgive the slight off topic shift but I think it applies here as well. I watched Wolfowitz apologize (and get boo'ed) for giving his Iraqi--correction Tunisian--girl friend a 60,000 dollar raise in the World Bank after he took over.

    Mr. Wolfowitz apologized at a morning news conference and at the atrium meeting after the staff association disclosed that it had found a dated memorandum from Mr. Wolfowitz to a vice president for human resources at the bank, apparently instructing him to agree to the terms of a raise and reassignment for Ms. Riza.

    The transfer and a subsequent raise eventually took her to a pay of $193,590 from $132,660, tax-free because of her status as a diplomat, and exceeding the salaries of cabinet members. “In hindsight, I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations,” Mr. Wolfowitz said.

    “I made a mistake, for which I am sorry,” he added, pleading for “some understanding” of the “painful personal dilemma” he faced when he left the Pentagon to become bank president. Mr. Wolfowitz said he had been seeking to avoid a conflict of interest by having Ms. Riza, with whom he had a personal relationship, transferred from his supervision.

    What drove the anger at the bank was not that Mr. Wolfowitz had denied earlier that he had sought Ms. Riza’s transfer, but that he had been less than fully candid in discussing it until documents surfaced showing his direct role. His earlier insistence that he had consulted with ethics officials was disputed by some of them, who say they were not involved in the salary aspect of discussions.

    Mr. Wolfowitz, who is divorced, has been close to Ms. Riza for several years, according to people who have worked with them. She was a communications officer in the Middle East and North Africa bureau of the bank when Mr. Wolfowitz arrived in 2005, and was transferred that September to the Middle East and North Africa bureau to help set up a semi-independent foundation to promote democracy in that region.

    Her initial supervisor at the State Department was Elizabeth Cheney, whose father, Vice President Dick Cheney, has been a longtime associate of Mr. Wolfowitz. Ms. Riza now serves as a consultant to the foundation, the Foundation for the Future, while drawing her World Bank salary, the State Department said.

    I can't wait for my next mandatory ethics class....

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 04-13-2007 at 04:34 PM. Reason: corrected nationality

  11. #51
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Back in the early days of the Roman Empire, they ruled the known world with about 400 civil servants. By the time of Constantine (about 300 years) that number had swelled to over 40,000. iI about 100 more years, the city of Rome was sacked by the Goths.
    And let us not forget that the vast majority of "civil servants" in the Roman Empire were either slaves or eunuchs. I will leave any current analogies to the thoughts of the individual reader . That's why the Goths had to come in and protect the Western Empire from the depredations of the real barbarians, like the Vandals whose group excursion tour of Rome in 412 caused such damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Maybe if the French Canadians sack DC, we can start over
    Now, Tom, you know that we did that in 1814. I'll admit, we should have had more troops from la Belle Province along on that little excursion, but, what can I say, space was limited .

    On a (slightly) more serious note, the job description is both revealing and disturbing:

    According to the proposal, the execution manager would develop "clearly assigned responsibility, deadlines, performance metrics (as appropriate) and a system of accountability to ensure progress" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Didn't the US fight in a little "dust up" called Vietnam with that mindset? One has to wonder if the person responsible for the proposal hasn't been staring at MS Project screens for to long!

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  12. #52
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default On Learning...

    Hadley said he is seeking a retired general or diplomat but will also consider active-duty military or foreign service officers before presenting a choice to Bush. Retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, retired Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston and retired Air Force Gen. John P. Jumper have said they are not interested, according to sources or the generals themselves, and CBS News said retired Marine Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm also demurred.

    "Why would we do it now?" Hadley said. "We try to learn."
    There is a point in all endeavors that trying is no longer good enough--you either do it or you fail. Period.

    There is similarly a point in all endeavors when learning from mistakes ceases to be learning because you can't be learning if you simply make the same mistakes over and over again.

    Tom

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Your point on leadership is EXTREMELY well taken (forgive the caps). Forgive the slight off topic shift but I think it applies here as well. I watched Wolfowitz apologize (and get boo'ed) for giving his Iraqi--correction Tunisian--girl friend a 60,000 dollar raise in the World Bank after he took over.




    I can't wait for my next mandatory ethics class....

    Tom
    When I read the BBC story on Wolfowitz and his "associate", I was so frosted I could barely see straight.
    Re your next mandatory ethics class: why is it that ethics in the US government only has to do with fiscal propriety?
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 04-13-2007 at 04:35 PM. Reason: coirrected nationality

  14. #54
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Re your next mandatory ethics class: why is it that ethics in the US government only has to do with fiscal propriety?
    Actually that is not true; it deals with overall ethics including--drum roll here--the appearance of impropriety. In the case under discussion, that line was not merely crossed. They apparently played hop-scotch with it.

    tom

  15. #55
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default From Kaplan at Slate.com

    Parallel piece to our discussions here:

    war stories: Military analysis.
    General Knowledge
    Why no one wants to be Bush's war czar.

    By Fred Kaplan
    Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007, at 6:13 PM ET

    ...The fact that Bush has found no takers suggests one of three possibilities: The generals don't have any great ideas; they don't believe they'd really be given carte blanche; or, most likely, to some degree, both.

    There's a history of American policy czars—grey eminences solemnly appointed by presidents to untangle the day's knottiest problems (drug czar, energy czar, inflation czar, etc.)—and each chapter has been a tale of frustration and woe.

    The reasons for failure have been the same in each instance.

    First, the sources of the problem are beyond any one person's grasp.

    Second, the president names a czar because the normal government agencies have failed or don't know what to do.

    Third, czars may be given a mandate to knock heads together, but they're not given the power to set policy. If the president doesn't have a sound policy, the most efficient coordinator can't solve anything important.

    Fourth, an outsider, no matter how smart and respected, probably doesn't have a better grasp of the problem than the responsible government agencies do—or if he does, he doesn't really control the levers to force those agencies to follow his directives.

    Fifth, everyone (except maybe the appointed czar) understands all this from the outset—understands that the whole enterprise is a PR stunt to make the president look like he's trying to do something and to absolve him from blame after it's clear that even the wise outsider couldn't work miracles.

  16. #56
    Registered User SteveO's Avatar
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    Default McCain for Deputy President

    OK, I'll wade in...

    Yes, the interagency is broken. Iraq is a symptom. Maybe Rumsfield, the Alpha Secretary, was the precipitating cause this time. Maybe Cheney perverted the tenuous IA power matrix. But where was/is the President? Where is the leadership? Is this a war or a management exercise?

    Unless the Federal bureaucracy, along with other substantive players (multilaterals, NGOs, transnationals), have become too much for one executive, we don't need Congress to legislate an interagency Goldwater Nichols. The NSC reflects the President's preferred management style and follows his lead. We need an effective Commander in Chief.

    A real fix will take longer than we have in Iraq.

    So, in the meantime, McCain for War Tsar. He's a strong advocate and a credible political/military/civilian leader. And he's kind of old. Old enough to know which heads to knock. Maybe too old for President in 2010, but just right for Deputy President in 2007.

    Where's the Churchill for our generation?

    SteveO

  17. #57
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Another Avenue

    SteveO,

    Good wade in!

    I read this this morning and had the thought maybe the new CENTCOM Commander might "git 'er done."

    Tom


    Inside The Pentagon
    April 12, 2007
    Pg. 1

    Fallon To Push For Better Mideast Intelligence, Particularly On Iran


    Adm. William Fallon, the new U.S. commander in the Middle East, is expected to immediately drive the intelligence community to develop a greater understanding of nations and actors in the region, with a particular focus on demystifying Iran, according to officials familiar with his approach.

    The career naval aviator is said to be unusually aggressive in tracking down reliable information to help decipher foreign actions and intent.....

    But to Fallon, talking remains only a first, if crucial, step.

    Advancing security and stability in the region means “acting the junkyard dog in holding people accountable to produce results,” he told ITP. “This is what we need.”

    Who, in particular, must be held to account?

    “Most importantly, it is about holding myself [accountable], as well as those we can influence; subordinates; associates; [and] anyone who has an interest in the issue,” Fallon said. “And that’s a lot of people.”

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveO View Post
    So, in the meantime, McCain for War Tsar. He's a strong advocate and a credible political/military/civilian leader. And he's kind of old. Old enough to know which heads to knock. Maybe too old for President in 2010, but just right for Deputy President in 2007.
    McCain '07...I like it! Not so sure his campaign staff would support this decision though.

    I do like the idea of a civilian rather than a general. I think you need somebody that understands the cesspool that is Washington bureaucracy. Of course, they carted out the tried and true James Baker the III already and that didn't work out so well.

    Take care,
    Brian

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    I am for McCain, but in the meantime, I nominate myself. I have learned first hand where these landmines are, and which ones need the "pop and drop" placed besides them in order to effect a breach. Seriously, I think that Barry McCaffrey should be the guy. He was the first "Drug Czar", and he fully understands the pitfalls and ankle-biters that are out there for this job. He is one of the better read in retired G.O.'s on what has been happening over in Iraq. I think he would be the best possible choice based on his military experience, and his experience as the first "Drug Czar".

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    I'm slogging through Imperial Life in the Emerald City, and now I remember her name, and the Garner/Cheney issue. I haven't gotten beyond the point where the stock exchange is being addressed, so I hope to learn more about her involvement.

    Great book, especially if you were at the Palace during that time period. I still remember when the stabbing took place in the CPA trailer park! Thought there was a crazed insurgent in our midst for days.

    How about this crazy suggestion for "War Czar". I recommend the Commander in Chief, ie The President. Seems like he's in the right spot for the job.

    Honestly though, isn't that his role/responsibility? Not that Jimbo wouldn't be a good candidate, but I think the Constitution already picked someone for the job back in 1787 and ratified in 1789!
    "But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet withstanding, go out to meet it."

    -Thucydides

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