Jewish World Review June 16, 2004 /27 Sivan, 5764
We desperately need one man, one mind in charge
The next half year in Iraq will determine whether we have gained a strategic advantage or failure in the war on terror. While no one can know the outcome, it is certainly plausible, and may be likely, that civil war will break out after the transfer of authority on June 30. Our government should act promptly and boldly to minimize the chance of that catastrophic outcome.
Bringing order and benign self-government out of the murderous chaos of post-Saddamite Iraq was always going to be a difficult job. But, unambiguously, mismanagement of the post-war occupation has made matters even worse and must be instantly rectified.
Putting to one side the failed performances of various individual U.S. government officials in Iraq, the central failure (which is within our government's power to control) derives from the lack of unified command of our military and civilian activities in Iraq. Military, diplomatic, intelligence and other functions all go up separate chains of command to separate Washington HQ's. The stories are legion floating through Washington corridors of damage done to our effort due to bureaucratic infighting and incompetence. The word procurement comes to mind, among other things. Our best chance of avoiding a strategic reversal in Iraq is to put one man in Iraq with complete line operational command of all our policies, activities and assets.
The Romans called it proconsul. The British called it viceroy. We called General Eisenhower Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. Call it what you may, we desperately need one man, one mind in charge. That job cannot be done from Washington, and the person with that job can have no other.
He must be both a manager of bureaucracies, a shrewd interpreter and manipulator of men, and a man capable of designing and implementing a strategic policy. He must possess a sheer personal presence that elicits cooperation, if not subordination, from other powerful and unruly men. Moreover, that man must be big enough to withstand all pressures from Washington. Of all the plausible candidates for such a command, Colin Powell pre-eminently leads the list.
Of course, the first problem with such a proposal is that our structure of government does not provide for such a position one that commands both military and civilian organizations. But we must not let bureaucratic structures define strategic needs. We need one command, and President Bush can construct such an office for this vital moment. He can re-activate Colin Powell to four-star military status, and establish an interagency protocol that unites all U.S. government assets in Iraq under General Powell's command. In this unique and time-limited circumstance, and given the strategic defeat that stares us in the face, Powell's chain of command should go directly to the president in order to avoid any bureaucratic subtractions from his authority. (I write this as a great admirer of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his performance in office. But this crisis moment requires a unique response.)
Mr. Powell would have to resign his office as secretary of state. But, as I suggested above, the holder of this unique command must not be distracted by other responsibilities. It was both the Roman and British genius to understand that foreign locations could not be managed effectively from Rome or London.
The progress in communication technologies, which now permit instantaneous world-wide communication, oddly, has only increased the need for unity of command in country. The constant meddling from afar by people who can't appreciate the subtle needs of the moment in country only undo the coherence of our efforts. The man in country must stand in the stead of his government, with full discretion to plan and to act subordinate only to the final constitutional authority of the president, sparingly exercised.
This is, I confess, something of a desperate proposal. But out of every 10 well-informed people in this town, it is hard to find one who shares the view that the problems we are encountering in Iraq are merely bumps in the road. (Of course, we all may be wrong. It is hard to get a comprehensive view of the Iraqi condition.) In retrospect, it may have been useful if such a proposal as this had been implemented at the beginning of the occupation period, rather than during the next six months of Iraqi interregnum sovereignty. But there is still time to save the day.
We would not have gotten even this close to success without President Bush's courageous and inspired leadership. This war was, and is, necessary. It is almost inconceivable that a President Gore or Kerry would have moved with such alacrity to confront our only too real enemies in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor do I doubt that if President Bush sees the need for new decisive action now, uniquely amongst our nation's current leaders he possesses the boldness of spirit to act to secure our strategic success in Iraq.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington
and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
06/09/04: It's called victory
06/02/04: Bush wings it and does well
05/25/04: Beyond the speech: A lesson from Lincoln
05/19/04: America: The strong horse
05/12/04: Why Rummy must not resign
05/05/04: Speak up, Mr. Kerry
04/28/04: Kerry's fatal flaw
04/21/04: Beware of an old man in a hurry
04/14/04: Islam confronting its demons?
04/08/04: Vigilance is not enough
03/24/04: Kerry personally vulnerable
03/24/04: Futile finger pointing
03/17/04: The Spanish disease
03/10/04: Euro back-stabbers for Kerry
02/25/04: What makes John Kerry tick?
02/18/04: Kerry's pre-emptive war policy
02/11/04: George W. Bush grand strategist?
02/04/04: Elections in the age of terror
01/28/04: There's a war on?
01/21/04: It's good that we live in ignorance of the future
01/14/04: The strange case of immigration politics
01/07/04: Funding for American presidential elections is beginning to go global
12/31/03: Make us laugh
12/24/03: War prophesies
12/17/03: Analyze this!
12/10/03: Until peace is ready to be negotiated …
12/03/03: AFL-CIO meets Monty Python
11/26/03: Republicans need to learn from the Romans
11/19/03: All of a sudden we have a responsible media?
11/12/03: To arms
11/05/03: Mayor Mike's appetite for self-destructive accusations
10/29/03: A bloody march to peace
10/22/03: Calls for a general 's head because his comments may have ruffled the feathers of our esteemed enemies!?
10/08/03: The leakers' agony
10/01/03: Managing a scandal
09/24/03: Will we have to balance our strong ethical and religious revulsion of cloning against the danger of being surpassed by a gene-manipulated super-race?
09/17/03: The skinny on the First Ladies
09/10/03: More than cynicism will be needed to defeat prez
09/03/03: Dead Man Politickin'
08/27/03: Patience is not America's long suit
08/13/03: George Will's trifecta of punitive aspirations
07/30/03: A question for the candidates: Whose side are you on?
07/23/03: When GOPers attack their leader
07/17/03: Spanish fest mirrors U.S. elections
07/09/03: On the horns of a dilemma
06/25/03: The continuing deaths of American and British soldiers in Iraq
should not be rhetorically minimized -- but sanctified
06/18/03: No reason to feel defensive about criticism of the war on terrorism
06/11/03: The Clintons self-proclaimed geniuses have no defense against the charge of cunning mendacity
06/04/03: George 'Machiavelli' Bush? Nah
05/28/03: When 'progressives' become reactionaries
05/21/03: Yes, this conservative is defending the NYTimes
05/14/03: Playing the politics of deflation
05/07/03: Only the stupid could think it'll be the economy: Comparing the Bushes
04/30/03: How to squelch increasing Iraqi distrust of America
04/25/03: Winning the war, losing the peace
04/16/03: Our own domestic Senate Republican Guard better be prepared for a grinding
04/03/03: At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts
04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most
experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French
02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue
© 2004, Creators Syndicate