Increasingly anxious to appear competent and in control, the Bush gang is reportedly looking for a “war czar” who would oversee the United States’ role in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are, of course, a few problems with this, not the least of which is the fact that no one actually wants the job.
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.
On the surface, shaking up the chain of command like this reeks of desperation. The whole endeavor seems geared towards creating a White House photo op, where the president can say, “See? I’m doing something.”
Except he really isn’t. Even if Bush could find someone for this very bizarre job, what, exactly, would the person do? As Kevin Drum explained, “We already have Secretaries of State and Defense, we already have a military chain of command, and we already have an NSC that’s supposed to coordinate all this stuff. Does anyone truly think that a shiny new White House staffer with no budgetary authority, no bureaucratic support, and little in the way of institutional levers of control is going to be able to magically get everyone on the same page sometime in the next few months? It’s a suicide mission.”