Monday, May 07, 2007

They're still looking for a chump.

The latest news is that several months after proposing the creation of the office of a 'war czar' to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are still looking to fill it after several qualified candidates said, 'thanks, but no thanks.'

Of course the office itself is absurd. We already have the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of defense and above them the Commander in Chief who is supposed to be doing all of that. It is hard to imagine what another high level bureaucrat would do that would improve the effectiveness of either war.

Ultimately, it isn't about improving effectiveness, as has been pitched. It's not about that at all.

It's about finding a sucker to be the scapegoat. The day after last year's election, Don Rumsfeld, who had been absorbing the brunt of the criticism for our failed war policy, resigned. So who does that leave? His replacement, the joint chiefs and the President. What this sounds like is that they all agreed that none of them wanted to be the 'fall guy' when (no longer if) we leave Iraq without leaving behind the grand democracy that was envisioned, but which was never a realistic vision. And even more tragically, the war in Afghanistan (which I've always, see Terrorism and the Afghan War) which should have been our focus, has since it quit being our focus degenerated into a mini-Iraq (except that the problems there are growing-- it's not so 'mini' anymore either.) So sooner or later we may have to make the incredibly hard decision to recognize that the chance that we did have to get rid of the people who really are our enemies in Afghanistan, has passed us by, and decide whether we want to refocus our efforts where they should have been in the first place and gamble on being able to reverse the direction of an increasingly uncertain and bloody war or withdraw and think very carefully through what the pitfalls are of getting sidetracked before we make another attempt.

The decision to put Afghanistan on the back burner before we had caught up to the al-Qaeda leaders there and invade Iraq was made early on during the Afghan war, and the present situation in both countries can be pinned on that single decision. But now those who made it don't want to be tagged with the consequences. All of which makes the 'war czar' position come into much sharper focus.

It's really the office of the 'blame czar.'

And obviously everyone they've asked so far to take the job, can see that very clearly.

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