I can't remember what led me to checking out the Intel Dump again but, sure enough, I still find Phil Carter frustrating. His post, Doug Lute: dream the impossible dream, is par for the course. But give the devil his due: he does have an interesting take on things and so do some of his commenters. This nugget from Andy caught my eye:
Even a cursory glance at the history of American "czars" should indicate that this is a stupid idea. When has such a post ever been effective? I must questions the good General's wisdom in taking this post. I think he's much more likely be a Nicholas II rather than a Peter or Catherine the Great.
[here, quoting Phil Carter's original post]
3) How are the other agencies going to react to having yet another general in charge of policy? Maybe about as well as State reacted to having Jay Garner appointed as the head of ORHA during the early stages of the war? I understand that the military is the main effort right now in Iraq. I also understand that's a deeply flawed organizational paradigm, because counterinsurgency is a political endeavor, and it may make a lot more sense to put a political animal (someone like Robert "Blowtorch Bob" Komer) in charge. (What? You've never heard of Blowtorch Bob? Read this! And this!)
This is only the latest example in a continuing trend that I believe poses great danger to our Democracy. The trend is that civilian institutions are increasingly ineffective or at least viewed as ineffective. When FEMA and the inbreds in the LA government f*cked Katrina all to hell, who came in to clean up the mess? The military. When politicians, the Airline industry and our civilian agencies screw-up and 9/11 happens, what happens? F-16's patrolling US Airspace, Generals and former Generals in charge of most of the major intel agencies, and Avengers ringing our Capital. During planning for OIF, Civilian agencies like State were supposed to be ready to go with reconstruction, civil operations, etc. The military didn't plan for any of that because others were supposed to. We had Bremer and the CPA - one of a long series of f*ckups in Iraq. Now the military is doing reconstruction. Now the military is doing police work. Now the military is training Iraqi police, and now the military is in overall Command in Iraq. Where is the rest of our f*cking government? Maybe it's there and I just don't see it. From all appearances only one of our cabinet-level agencies is doing anything substantive in Iraq.
These are only some examples, but increasingly it seems to me that the military is "the Cleaner" (for those who've seen the original La Femme Nikita - the French version that is) for ineffective and incompetent civilian personnel and agencies. Frankly, I blame a lot of it on "Tenet Syndrome" where most of our civilian bureaucratic leaders cut their chops as Congressional aids and therefore their primary competency is politics. If we continue down this road, then we are heading toward a time when the US military will be necessary to get anything done and we'll be no better than Pakistan or Turkey or any other country where the military becomes a political kingmaker.
Now that's what I call a fantastic post!
There are certainly things I would agree and disagree with in the above comment but there is a frustration evident in that post that resonates with me, although that frustration likely runs in a direction different than Andy's frustration. When the history books consider the last few years, or the George W. Bush presidency, I can't help but feel that Rumsfeld is clearly going to be applauded for his transformation efforts, Colin Powell and his military establishment cronies are going to be severely criticized for their political machinations, and -- more importantly -- the inadequacies of the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are going to be the real focal points. That, in my estimation, is why there has been such a frenzy against George W. Bush: those mainstream institutions all declared war on this presidency while the nation was fighting an entirely new, 21st Century war. History is not going to look on them kindly. Not kindly at all.
To buttress that point, I return to the original focus of this post. Later in the thread on Intel Dump that I've been discussing, Andy was back with another good contribution. He linked to a Paul Yingling article in the Small Wars Journal Blog that comments on a longer piece he wrote in Armed Forces Journal titled "A Failure in Generalship." [A quick point: too few troops my ass, Lt. Col. Yingling.] In the later article discussing the opinion piece, Yingling wrote:
The most common criticism of the piece is that I did not address the role of civilian authorities more explicitly. While I don't think a serving officer should publicly criticize civil authorities, there is a more substantive question here. Who does society hold responsible for the application of non-military instruments of power to achieve the aims of policy? That's a much larger question than the one I took on regarding the responsibilities of general officers. However, it's a fair question that I would like to take a stab at eventually. Any thoughts on this topic are very much appreciated.
The pop media drives the news cycle right now, and all manner of politician is scurrying about dancing to that pop media "all is a quagmire" tune. But from a historical perspective, society will clearly hold the State Department and the CIA responsible for the ineffective use of non-military assets to achieve the aims of policy in Iraq and the wider Middle East. Take that to the bank.
Donald Rumsfeld was smart enough to know that we couldn't communicate to our enemies (whether Russian or Chinese or Islamo-fascist) that we weren't agile and mobile enough to take the fight to them if circumstances dictated such. Even if we ideally needed greater agility and mobility, not to mention a larger fighting force. My younger brother, a former military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, has nothing but glowing praise for General Eric Shinseki, the infamous Army Chief of Staff who insisted we needed more than 100,000 more troops than we've subsequently ever committed to the fight in Iraq.
That was obviously untrue.
And a blatant attempt to force a certain pre-ordained decision upon the Bush Administration.
Yet only through the concerted effort of determined enemies (primarily in Iran) who can still only muster up enough action to simply try and maintain the image of mayhem by blowing up markets, etc., with jihadist homicide bombers -- only through those desperate efforts have we not completely pacified that pseudo-country.
But neither General Shinseki nor Colin Powell were smart enough to understand the simple fact that we couldn't communicate helplessness to the enemy. Rumsfeld did understand that; so did President Bush. As a result, not only is the military transforming into a far more agile, mobile, and (if necessary) hostile fighting force but it is also learning on the fly how to fight this neglected enemy.
Additionally, under the Bush Administration, there is a clear push to nudge the State Department and our intelligence operations to also be far more agile and mobile in the execution of their duties. And, if necessary, to be capable joint operations instruments working with our Department of Defense around the globe to attain the policy aims of the United States of America.