“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Generals Decline the Invitation.

It seems as if some retired generals are following advice learned early in their military experience, "never volunteer for anything."

3 Generals Spurn the Position of War 'Czar'
Bush Seeks Overseer For Iraq, Afghanistan

By Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 11, 2007; A01

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.

The White House has not publicly disclosed its interest in creating the position, hoping to find someone President Bush can anoint and announce for the post all at once. Officials said they are still considering options for how to reorganize the White House's management of the two conflicts. If they cannot find a person suited for the sort of specially empowered office they envision, they said, they may have to retain the current structure.

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.

The highest-ranking White House official responsible exclusively for the wars is deputy national security adviser Meghan O'Sullivan, who reports to national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and does not have power to issue orders to agencies. O'Sullivan plans to step down soon, giving the White House the opportunity to rethink how it organizes the war effort.

Unlike O'Sullivan, the new czar would report directly to Bush and to Hadley and would have the title of assistant to the president, just as Hadley and the other highest-ranking White House officials have, the sources said. The new czar would also have "tasking authority," or the power to issue directions, over other agencies, they 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?"

All three generals who declined the job have been to varying degrees administration insiders. Keane, a former Army vice chief of staff, was one of the primary proponents of sending more troops to Iraq and presented Bush with his plan for a major force increase during an Oval Office meeting in December. The president adopted the concept in January, although he did not dispatch as many troops as Keane proposed.

Ralston, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was named by Rice last August to serve as her special envoy for countering the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a group designated a terrorist organization by the United States.

Sheehan, a 35-year Marine, served on the Defense Policy Board advising the Pentagon early in the Bush administration and at one point was reportedly considered by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He now works as an executive at Bechtel Corp. developing oil projects in the Middle East.

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.

Gordon Johndroe, a National Security Council spokesman, would not discuss contacts with candidates but confirmed that officials are considering a newly empowered czar.

"The White House is looking at a number of options on how to structure the Iraq and Afghanistan office in light of Meghan O'Sullivan's departure and the completion of both the Iraq and Afghanistan strategic reviews," he said. He added that "No decisions have been made" and "a list of candidates has not been narrowed down."

The idea of someone overseeing the wars has been promoted to the White House by several outside advisers. "It would be definitely a good idea," said Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Hope they do it, and hope they do it soon. And I hope they pick the right guy. It's a real problem that we don't have a single individual back here who is really capable of coordinating the effort."

Other variations are under consideration. House Democrats have put a provision in their version of a war spending bill that would designate a coordinator to oversee all assistance to Iraq. That person, who would report directly to the president, would require Senate confirmation; the White House said it opposes the proposal because Rice already has an aid coordinator.

Some administration critics said the ideas miss the point. "An individual can't fix a failed policy," said Carlos Pascual, former State Department coordinator of Iraq reconstruction, who is now a vice president at the Brookings Institution. "So the key thing is to figure out where the policy is wrong."


  1. Gee, no takers to become last minute Captains of the Titanic.
    ...conveniently allowing GWB to hand off as much of the blame for this fiasco of a presidency as he can.

    None of us will probably ever know who was right about what went on in the early days about occupation vs quick handover to Iraqis, and etc.
    One thing is clear, however, GWB painted a picture of himself being the ultimate decider in chief, saying conflicts between Powell and Rumsfeld et al just allowed him to see all sides of the problem prior to coming to a decision.
    Over time, that fantasy became harder and harder to entertain, as the strategery devolved into explaining the latest screw-up resulting from a massive failure of leadership.
    You don't leave prior admin's enemy agents in place, you don't have an administration composed of people with diametrically opposed ideas about the way forward, you don't worry more about what the media will say than about effectively prosecuting the war, you don't call fascist thugs fellas/members of the ROP.
    You don't invite terrorist enablers and sympathizers into the Whitehouse to promote good vibes and new tones.
    I could go on but what's the point? ... just more proof of my leftist BSD syndrome.

  2. On the other hand, at home he did allow massive numbers of new, low wage earners in to get their piece of the pie, and
    social programs have blossomed,
    so we must balance the bad with the good,

  3. For several hours BC would freeze my Browser every time I tried to go there.
    Gave Up.
    Anyone else encounter that?

  4. A Shia-led state in Baghdad--with a strong Kurdish presence in it and

    *a big niche for the Sunnis-*
    (where is the evidence the Shia guys are ready to compromise in that regard?)

    can go a long way toward changing the region's terrible habits and expectations of authority and command. The Sunnis would still be hegemonic in the Arab councils of power beyond Iraq, but their monopoly would yield to the pluralism and complexity of that region.

    FOUAD AJAMI ht - Bobal

  5. Haven't heard too many Sistani sermons about pluralism and complexity.
    Who knows?

  6. This seems like a typical Washington Post anti-war hit piece. I don't know of any other newspaper which is so biased against the war.

    I complained once a few months ago after they distorted the facts and basically suggested a conspiracy theory when Zarqawi was killed. I was suprised to get an e-mail back which said something like "You ain't seen nothing yet!". I'll see if I still have it.

  7. I do not like the sound of this particularly since just the other day, I heard a discussion about how the War on Drugs is going...Apparently, the drug Czar came up through the ranks, has few communication skills and does not like a certain reporter at NPR. Anyway, NPR's problem seems to be that Admininstration is claiming drug use is down while ignoring runaway Meth use, etc.

    Talk of a War Czar sounds like someone has grown tired of an issue and is ready to hand it off to an underling. "Here, you handle it."

  8. This would be more "small government Republicanism"?

    BTW, I've just appointed a wife Czar so she has to go through an intermediary.

    (just kidding, hon, really!)

  9. Maybe Nancy Pelosi took the job. The latest story is that she may be headed to Iran to negotiate.

    Pelosi to Iran

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, just back from a trip to Syria that sparked sharp criticism from Republicans and the Bush administration, suggested Tuesday that they may be interested in taking another diplomatic trip - to open a dialogue with Iran.

    The Democratic speaker from San Francisco and Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, were asked at a press conference in San Francisco Tuesday whether on the heels of their recent trip to the Middle East they would be interested in extending their diplomacy in the troubled region with a visit to Iran.

  10. Gen. Sheehan says:

    "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.


    "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.

    I wonder how many generals with attitudes like this exist within the ranks? Maybe mass firings of the chain of command is long overdue?

  11. A Medal of Freedom for them all!
    Presented by fellow weiner,
    Normie Minetta.

  12. Optimism in Baghdad

    Here are some excerpts from a Wall Street (Opinion) Journal article by someone in Iraq:

    Iraq in the Balance
    In Washington, panic. In Baghdad, cautious optimism.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

    BAGHDAD--For 35 years the sun did not shine here," said a man on the grounds of the great Shia shrine of al-Kadhimiyyah, on the outskirts of Baghdad. I had come to the shrine at night, in the company of the Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi...

    A traveler who moves between Baghdad and Washington is struck by the gloomy despair in Washington and the cautious sense of optimism in Baghdad. Baghdad has not been prettified; its streets remain a sore to the eye, its government still hunkered down in the Green Zone, and violence is never far. But the sense of deliverance, and the hopes invested in this new security plan, are palpable. I crisscrossed the city--always with armed protection--making my way to Sunni and Shia politicians and clerics alike. The Sunni and Shia versions of political things--of reality itself--remain at odds. But there can be discerned, through the acrimony, the emergence of a fragile consensus...

    In retrospect, the defining moment for Mr. Maliki had been those early hours of Dec. 30, when Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows. He had not flinched, the decision was his, and he assumed it. Beyond the sound and fury of the controversy that greeted the execution, Mr. Maliki had taken the execution as a warrant for a new accommodation with the Sunni political class. A lifelong opponent of the Baath, he had come to the judgment that the back of the apparatus of the old regime had been broken, and that the time had come for an olive branch to those ready to accept the new political rules.

    When I called on Mr. Maliki at his residence, a law offering pensions to the former officers of the Iraqi army had been readied and was soon put into effect. That decision had been supported by the head of the de-Baathification commission, Ahmed Chalabi. A proposal for a deeper reversal of the de-Baathification process was in the works, and would be announced days later by Mr. Maliki and President Jalal Talabani...

    The nightmare of this government is that of a precipitous American withdrawal. Six months ago, the British quit the southern city of Amarrah, the capital of the Maysan Province. It had been, by Iraqi accounts, a precipitous British decision, and the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr had rushed into the void; they had looted the barracks and overpowered the police. Amarrah haunts the Iraqis in the circle of power--the prospect of Americans leaving this government to fend for itself...

    The Mahdi Army, more precisely the underclass of Sadr City, had won the fight for Baghdad. This Shia underclass had been hurled into the city from its ancestral lands in the Marshes and the Middle Euphrates. In a cruel twist of irony, Baathist terror had driven these people into the slums of Baghdad. The Baathist tyranny had cut down the palm trees in the south, burned the reed beds of the Marshes. Then the campaign of terror that Sunni society sheltered and abetted in the aftermath of the despot's fall gave the Mahdi Army its cause and its power.

    "The Mahdi Army protected us and our lands, our homes, and our honor," said a tribal Shia notable in a meeting in Baghdad, acknowledging that it was perhaps time for the boys of Moqtada al-Sadr to step aside in favor of the government forces. He laid bare, as he spoke, the terrible complications of this country; six of his sisters, he said, were married to Sunnis, countless nephews of his were Sunni...

    There is a growing Shia unease with the Mahdi Army--and with the venality and incompetence of the Sadrists represented in the cabinet--and an increasing faith that the government and its instruments of order are the surer bet. The crackdown on the Mahdi Army that the new American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has launched has the backing of the ruling Shia coalition. Iraqi police and army units have taken to the field against elements of the Mahdi army. In recent days, in the southern city of Diwaniyya, American and Iraqi forces have together battled the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr. To the extent that the Shia now see Iraq as their own country, their tolerance for mayhem and chaos has receded. Sadr may damn the American occupiers, but ordinary Shia men and women know that the liberty that came their way had been a gift of the Americans...

  13. FUBAR FEDS! Nothing but FUBAR!

  14. This is the author information:

    Mr. Ajami, a 2006 recipient of the Bradley Prize, teaches at Johns Hopkins and is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq" (Free Press, 2006).

  15. The experience of one senior foreign service officer—a woman named Kiki Munshi who came out of retirement to run the PRT in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad, for most of 2006—is instructive. As someone with decades of experience working in shaky countries off the Washington radar screen, she was accustomed to being a self-starter. But nothing had prepared her for this job. ...
    When she arrived in Baquba, Diyala’s regional capital, a year ago this month, Munshi’s PRT consisted of two Department of State employees, “an absolutely new and raw” Army civil affairs team, a few interpreters, and 18 guys from a private military company called Blackwater USA whose mission was primarily to protect her. There were six Internet connections for all these people, no desks or chairs, no operating funds, and no office supplies. “If it isn’t nailed down, take it,” she told them all.

    The PRT was situated on Forward Operating Base Warhorse. To be effective, Munshi and the team had to get out of the base and into Baquba and the surrounding area to meet with Iraqi officials. But the Blackwater guys refused to move them anywhere without approval from the regional security officer at the Baghdad embassy. The result: Munshi spent the first month as a veritable “prisoner of the base,” trying desperately to shake funds loose from the embassy. As she puts it, “We lecture the Iraqis about being decentralized, yet we couldn’t get anything done without the approval” of a seemingly uninterested central authority.

    Fortunately, the Blackwater funds ran out, which meant that the PRT had to rely on the soldiers at the base for security. The solders did not need the embassy’s permission to move Munshi and her team around, and by August, there was progress. Meetings with provincial officials and local non-governmental organizations indicated an interest in a business center, an agricultural extension service, and other projects. Then something unfortunate happened. The office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, appointed a Shiite named General Shakur Hulail Husayn to serve as the new commander for the Iraqi Army’s 5th Division, covering Diyala, Major. Under his watch, Sunni arrests shot up and anti-Sunni death squads became emboldened. The Sunnis retaliated, and the Shiites responded with more violence. The PRT’s nascent projects faded away as Iraqi officials grew afraid to meet with Americans.

    By the end of the year, the PRT was facing an ironic state of affairs. On the one hand, Munshi had established better relations with the Baghdad embassy, there was an operating budget, and movement around the area was no longer a problem, thanks to the American soldiers. But because of the deterioration in the security environment, morale did not improve. In contrast with the previous summer, when projects had been waiting on the other side of the red tape, there was now little demand for their skills. Even when there was a need for humanitarian work, it was often impossible for the PRT to help. For example, Iraq’s intricate water and electric systems frequently need to be refurbished, but the PRT teams do not possess the expertise to do this. They must coordinate with nearby municipalities whose utility systems are all linked together, but there is no bureaucratic network in place. The truth is, unlike PRTs in Afghanistan, those in Iraq are often in over their heads.

    What Munshi’s team really needed—along with improved security in Diyala—was more financial autonomy and access to a higher level of technical expertise on a short-term basis. They needed real experts dispatched for a month or two to the field, rather than Army reservists with basic skills dispatched for up to a year.

    Munshi tried to communicate all this to the State Department upon her return, but nobody especially wanted to debrief her. The after-action meetings she did have were set up at her own insistence, she told me, with bureaucrats who were sympathetic but ultimately powerless.

  16. Some of you have asked me about the use of passwords for getting on the site. We have no control of that. That is all up to blogger and google.

  17. The phone rings at a Generals' home.

    "Honey, the President is on the phone"...

    "Hello Mr President"

    "The Country needs me to return to duty?"

    "Run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coordinate Defense and State?"

    "No sir, I can't do it"

    "Well, you see sir, my grandson has a birthday party coming up, I promised him I'd be there.
    The Mrs, she's got a list of honey do's that I promised to get started on. And the yard needs work, too."

    "I understand that, Mr President, but I'm booked solid, really. I'll can get my calendar cleared by, let's see, November '08. That'll be to late, huh. Well maybe next time, Mr President."

  18. "The after-action meetings she did have were set up at her own insistence, she told me, with bureaucrats who were sympathetic but ultimately powerless. "
    Just heard on the Miller Show that Congress is at highest rating for year:
    40% approval.

    That takes true Genius on W's part to raise Pelosi, Reid, Flake, Feingold, and Boxer to such a level.

  19. "Some of you have asked me about the use of passwords for getting on the site. We have no control of that. That is all up to blogger and google."
    So you gonna set up a Google Password Czar, Deuce?

  20. "Then something unfortunate happened. The office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, appointed a Shiite named General Shakur Hulail Husayn to serve as the new commander for the Iraqi Army’s 5th Division, covering Diyala, Major. Under his watch, Sunni arrests shot up and anti-Sunni death squads became emboldened. The Sunnis retaliated, and the Shiites responded with more violence. The PRT’s nascent projects faded away as Iraqi officials grew afraid to meet with Americans."
    Where did you get that, Panama Ed?
    Westhawk and Peacekeeper should see it.

  21. I did not pay attention to the not volunteer rule. I have opened my big mouth a time or two too often.

  22. To include a stalwart GOPer like Mr Flake (R, AZ) on your list, doug, is telling. So is this missive

    " ... “My level of concern and dismay is very, very high,” said Mickey Edwards, a Republican former congressman from Oklahoma who is now a lecturer in public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. “It’s not that I have any particular problem with the people who are running for the Republican nomination. I just don’t know how they can run hard enough or fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of the Bush administration.”

    “We don’t have any candidates in the field now who are compelling,” Mr. Edwards said, adding: “It’s going to be a tough year for us.”
    Fergus Cullen, the New Hampshire Republican Party chairman, said that a smart candidate could turn adversity to his advantage by figuring out a way to politely turn the page from the Bush era. “The situation with President Bush is allowing everyone to turn to a new campaign,” Mr. Cullen said, “and that is probably an asset to all the candidates.”

    And Katon Dawson, the party chairman in South Carolina, expressed confidence that the party would recover from any internal damage it suffered as its candidates took shots at each other.

    “We don’t do well until we have a common enemy,” Mr. Dawson said. “Right now, our enemy is ourselves.”
    Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a former head of the Republican National Committee, said the party needed to move away from criticizing Democrats and associate itself with one winning issue if it was to have any hopes of holding on to the White House in 2008.

    “What Republicans have to do here in the next year is do something other than complain about the Democrats,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said. “What they have to do is take an issue — and I happen to believe the issue is immigration — they have to push very strongly for it.”
    Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, said the Democratic takeover of Congress and the continuing grim news from Iraq had rendered Mr. Bush nearly irrelevant.

    “If he plays his cards right, he comes back to relevant,” Mr. Kingston said of the president. “He is marginalized now.”

    Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, said the party’s presidential candidates were being whipsawed as they tried to appeal to conservative voters who have a history of strong views on issues like abortion and gay rights. “These tests are destroying the Republican Party,” Mr. Simpson said.
    “The war in Iraq and public opposition to it has put a pall on Republicans,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri.

    Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said, “As long as the war appears not to be doing well, it’s going to hurt Republicans.”

    The biggest problem, several Republicans said, is the disparity between the level of enthusiasm on display among Democrats and that on the Republican side.

    “You’re seeing a carryover of the energy and the enthusiasm and the momentum from the 2006 Democratic takeover,” said Representative Adam H. Putnam, Republican of Florida. “Momentum is an important force in sports and politics, and the momentum is clearly on their side.”

  23. Pluralism and Complexity,
    It's like "Soft, and Absorbent"
    ...Edwards would know.

  24. Robert Kaplan,
    in the Atlantic
    Smoke and Mirrors
    What the State Department is not accomplishing in Iraq

  25. "I have opened my big mouth a time or two too often."
    beats being a sniveling loser like Imus.
    Opening mouth, saying nothing of value.

  26. Thanks, Ed.
    Have you checked out peacekeepers site?
    He's there.

  27. Lou Dobbs on Flake:
    One of the nicest smiles in Politics.

  28. Congressmen Gutierrez and Flake Unveil Bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation

    Tough requirements, until it gets to House/Senate committee, where Teddy says $3,500 and touching the border is too tough.

    ...then comes the immigration service processing 20 million efficiently and w/o fraud.
    Border Control First!
    (kill them windmills, Doug)

  29. Mr Flake is from an old time Arizona ranching family, a real Latter Day Sainter, from Snowflake, AZ.

    The town not named after the weather, but the names of the foounding families. Flakesnow made little sense to the old timers.

    He and Mr McCain, Republican as they get, in AZ. Real institutional players.

  30. "Watch your adjectives" is the admonition given American officers by Gen. Petraeus.
    Did he steal that from Patton,
    or learn it at Princeton?

  31. "the names of the foounding families"
    Isn't that Special?
    He LOOKS inbred.
    Dobbs being Sarcastic, no doubt.

  32. The Saints are a close knit group, especially in those small northern AZ towns.

  33. "Close Knit."

    Didn't know you had DIPLOMATIC Skills too,

  34. Somehow, that's never been one of my fantasies.
    ...out of a multitude.

  35. Paul Shanklin has a piece on McCain and Lindsay Graham.
    "Ya know, Lindsay, being out here on the plains with nothing but your horse and 6,000 head of sheep makes a man think different."
    "Ya want another Backrub?"
    "That would be great,
    then will make Smores!"'s a takeoff on Brokeback Mountain, only Paul could do it justice.

  36. Tancredo '08! those Windmills.

  37. For the GOP it's gone from
    "Permanent Political Realignment"
    in 2004 to
    "Who can we get to run for President?"
    in 2008.

  38. The Genius,
    and the Master Poker Player. was said many times at BC:
    Always outfoxed the Dems just when they think they had him.

  39. can fool some of the people some of the time...

  40. I am not surprised that three retired generals do not want to leave the comforts of retirement to take on a herculean task of synchronizing the Iraq Mission.

    Just about any retired 4 star Flag officer is pushing 60, and probably sits on the board of a foundation or corporation, or maybe two.

    Who wants to leave the security of retirement after a distinguished career to take on such a mission? Not many, I would think.

    There are a few generals whose post military career was at least as distinguished as their time i uniform, if not more.

    General (of the Army) George Catlett Marshall was active in the government after he retired from the Army, as was General Colin Powell and (to a lesser extent) Wesley Clark.

    General Peter Schoomaker returned to active duty after a brief retirement to serve as the Chief of Staff of the Army.

    These are the exceptions rather than the rule, however. And I cannot believe that there is a large pool of military retirees waiting in line to take on something like Iraq; too controversial. `

  41. But Clinton didn't enable 15 million new Democrat voters in his 8 years.

    ...who don't really give a s... about Gawd and THIS Country's Heritage.

  42. ...assuming a miracle does not occur and W leaves w/o
    "Comprehensive bla bla bla"

    Man, does that one not make me scream everytime I hear his falseto Texas Voice utter it.

  43. Comprehensive Corruption Reform.
    An ALL new form of Corruption.

  44. Well, after the Administration treated retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner so professionally, I cannot imagine other retired Generals not stepping up, when the White House calls.

    Think the White House called General Shinseki?

  45. I know a guy who went to School w/Shinseki.
    ...maybe I should shoot him an e-mail.
    He didn't get Challanger,
    ...he could take on a real Challange.

  46. We sure got a good laugh out of Shinseki.
    Nothing like Hubris.

  47. "Hubris is an exaggerated self pride or self-confidence (overbearing pride), often resulting in fatal retribution. In Ancient Greek hubris referred to actions taken in order to shame the victim, thereby making oneself seem superior."

    That works.
    Could do w/o the fatal retribution, tho.

  48. That may well be, trish.
    But as you say, he dropped whatever he was involved with, to answer the "Call to Duty".

    They treated him shabbily. Not illegally, but shabbily.

    A foretaste of Gonzo's personnel troubles, way back then.

  49. Then maybe is was not a shabby as it appeared at the time.

    But the choice of Mr Bremmer put the State Department in charge of the Program, Mr Bremmer being a veteran of the Kissinger days.

    General Garner had planned on a six month deployment, he got six weeks.

  50. So we hade three phases of American policy in Iraq and different analogies to other US ventures:

    1. Jay Garner: Was planning to put Iraq on an even keel within 6 months and go home. This plan would have entailed putting Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress in charge of the Iraqi Army and bureaucracy (both would have been retained). It resembled the policy toward France after the US victory in 1945, where the government was handed over to the Free French. This policy was favored by Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    2. Paul Bremer, First Phase: Bremer displaces Garner by mid-May. Intends to rule Iraq himself by fiat for two or three years. He disbands the Iraqi army altogether and puts off re-instituting the ministries. This is a Japan sort of plan, with Bremer playing MacArthur. He initially does not plan to have an Interim Governing Council or early elections. This plan was probably favored by Wolfowitz and some other neocons.

    (Bremer first phase was modified July 13 when Bremer is forced to appoint an Interim Governing Council, because he simply did not have the legitimacy to rule Iraq by himself).

    3. Paul Bremer, Second Phase: The Nov. 15 agreement is hastily hammered out calling for quick elections on a caucus basis, so that Bremer can hand over power to it by July 1, 2004. So, he would depart a year or two before scheduled. This is an Afghanistan model, complete with a US-invented Iraqi analogue to the manipulated Loya Jirga. Again, this model would be supported by Rumsfeld and Cheney and would raise anxieties among the neocons, who are dedicated to a Japan model of completely reshaping Iraq via direct US rule.

    So, we had three different models in less than 8 months

  51. Well, that is a perception, trish, about Mr Chalabi, but he is still in the game, there in Iraq, today.

    I have no idea, other than we were with him, shoulder to shoulder, then we were not. He is a survivor, that's fer sure.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - On the fourth anniversary of the war he peddled as a historic liberation campaign, Ahmad Chalabi on Tuesday sat in his fortress-style villa in Baghdad and pondered what might have been and how it all went wrong.

    Chalabi, sipping cardamom tea in an elegantly appointed salon, absolved himself of mistakes and insisted he had no regrets. Instead, he recited a litany of missteps he blames on the Bush administration, the U.S. military and newly minted Iraqi politicians who couldn't overcome their "parochial" interests for the good of the nation.

    "The war was a success," Chalabi declared, "and the occupation a failure."

    Four years and five assassination attempts since he returned from exile alongside U.S. forces, Chalabi, 62, said he's proud that Iraq has an elected government, a constitution approved by the people and an 80-percent debt reduction brokered largely by the United States. But he conceded that those successes are overshadowed by an entrenched insurgency, undisciplined Iraqi forces, an expanding U.S. troop presence and a leadership plagued by sectarian rivalries.
    In his account of the war, the beginning of the end was the decision to create a U.S. occupation authority instead of immediately handing the reins to Iraqi opposition leaders such as, say, Chalabi himself. That may have been the plan; the Pentagon airlifted Chalabi and his followers to Nasiriyah on April 6, 2003, where they called themselves Free Iraqi Forces.

    "The United States changed its status from liberator to occupier," he said. "We warned them, very strongly, that they would lose the moral high ground in Iraq. They did. The U.S. administration, in my view, is suffering the consequences of this decision."
    ... he said, there was the "incompetence" of the Coalition Provisional Authority and its "cavalier attitude toward Iraqi funds." Next came the U.S.-appointed transitional government, which he dismissed as "the CIA's dream team and a disaster for Iraq."

    U.S. officials, he said, failed to include the firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the political process early on and paid dearly for that decision when his Shiite militiamen staged two bloody anti-American uprisings in 2004.

    Iraqi politicians share the blame for the country's disarray, Chalabi said. Their sectarian agendas usurped national interests, and corruption spread unchecked. Worse, he said, was the use of state-sponsored violence to settle political disputes between the triumphant Shiite-led government and the nation's disgruntled Sunni minority.

    "This escalated sectarian tensions," Chalabi said. "It brought to the forefront extremists who gained credibility with the people."
    "I'm not disenchanted at all," he said. "All this is terrible, it's regrettable, but it was not inevitable. What exists is hope."
    "Had it gone well? There would be peace in Iraq," he said. "Iraq would've been pumping 3.5 billion barrels of oil today. There would be full electricity, massive reconstruction."

    And where would Chalabi have fit in that idyllic scenario?

    "Where I am," he said with a wide grin. "Sitting in Baghdad."

  52. "Haven't heard too many Sistani sermons about pluralism and complexity.
    Who knows?"

    The argument goes that when the Shi'a acquire power in Iraq, they're going to start demanding it in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and other states. This will lead to conflict, violence, but eventually compromise between Sunnis and Shi'isms. In other words, a 30 years war that exhausts everyone into accept religious tolerance. If you're interested, it is expanded upon in Vali Nasr's The Shia Revival.

    Frankly, I'd just expect more and more violence.

  53. On second thought, I don't know if Ajami believes it willl require such violence, but Nasr is realistic enough to realize it.

  54. Off topic, but what do you guys think of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan?

    Any equivalents in the Democratic Party today?

  55. WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- A U.S. military commander has determined that Marines accused of killing civilians after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last month used excessive force, and he has referred the case for possible criminal inquiry, The Associated Press has learned.

    The initial investigation of the March 4 incident, in which up to a dozen Afghan civilians are reported to have died, concluded that the Marines' response was "out of proportion to the threat that was immediately there," a senior defense official said Wednesday.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe's results have not been released. The findings have been forwarded to Central Command, which has responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

    The case has also been referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for a broader criminal inquiry, the official said.

    Another official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the initial military investigation concluded that there was a "reasonable suspicion" that the Marines violated the rules for the use of deadly force, and that crimes, possibly including homicide, may have been committed in the aftermath of the convoy being struck by a car bomb.

    The Naval investigative service got the case within the past week but has not yet begun interviewing the Marines, this official said. This official said the number of Marines involved in the case is "in the 20s."

  56. Not yet, but I'm working on Secrecy right now.

    I'll put Pandemonium on the list.

    On its face -national/ethnic- self determination seems to me the extension of multiculturalism to the state level.

    I was looking at a list of other cross-party cabinet picks and I came across this guy:

    Amazing I haven't heard of him before.

  57. From 2006:

    "WASHINGTON -- Paul McHale, a top civilian Pentagon official and a former congressman, has been recalled to active duty as a Marine reservist and will be sent to Afghanistan, The Associated Press has learned.

    This is the second time he has left a political position to return to the warfront -- having volunteered for the first Gulf War in 1991.

    McHale, 56, the assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, will head overseas by the end of the year, according to a Defense Department official who requested anonymity because the time and location of the deployment had not been released publicly.

    Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke confirmed on Thursday that McHale would be taking a leave of absence to go back on active duty.

    "Like many other Marine reservists, Secretary McHale has been recalled to active duty and will serve overseas," said Krenke.

    She said he is expected to return to his civilian Pentagon job after he completes his service.

    A native of Bethlehem, Pa., McHale joined the Marines after his college graduation. He was commissioned in 1972 and spent two years on active duty, including service as a rifle platoon leader in Okinawa and the Philippines. He now is a colonel.

    He served five terms in the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives, but resigned in 1991 to volunteer for duty during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

    He later served three terms in Congress, before taking the homeland defense job at the Pentagon in February 2003. The post was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

  58. ^Was a Democrat, though an independent one, obviously.

  59. > Off topic, but what do you guys think of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan?

    A Democrat who talked moderate but voted liberal.

    He had a brain, and was more honest and plain-spoken than the average politician.

  60. "On its face -national/ethnic- self determination seems to me the extension of multiculturalism to the state level."

    Netanyahu made this argument in A Durable Peace.

    Can't say I've read it, do you recommend it?

  61. Moynihan was one of the few to take on social security and be serious.