Isn’t That What The President Is For ?by Doug Mataconis
Lt. General Douglas Lute was named yesterday by President Bush to fill a position that the media is calling the new White House “war czar” responsible for overseeing the Iraq War
President Bush tapped Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute yesterday to serve as a new White House “war czar” overseeing the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, choosing a low-key soldier who privately expressed skepticism about sending more troops to Iraq during last winter’s strategy review.
In the newly created position, Lute will coordinate often disjointed military and civilian operations and manage the Washington side of the same troop increase he resisted before Bush announced the plan in January. Bush hopes an empowered aide working in the White House and answering directly to him will be able to cut through bureaucracy that has hindered efforts in Iraq.
The selection capped a difficult recruitment process for the White House, as its initial candidates rejected the job. At least five retired four-star generals approached by the White House or intermediaries refused to be considered. Lute, a three-star general now serving as chief operations officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in effect will jump over many superiors as he moves to the West Wing and assumes authority to deal directly with Cabinet secretaries and top commanders.
“General Lute is a tremendously accomplished military leader who understands war and government and knows how to get things done,” Bush said in a statement.
Let’s just recap the command structure in Iraq. Commanding the Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I) is David Petraus. Above him is Admiral William J. Fallon who heads the U.S. Central Command. (CENTCOM). Then there’s General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) who reports to Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) who in turn was appointed by George W. Bush, President of the United States (POTUS)
I don’t really understand where Lute fits into that command structure, except perhaps to add another layer of bureaucracy. More importantly, though, why do we need a “war czar” when we have a person whose job responsibilities are pretty clearly defined:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
Andrew Sullivan asserts that Bush has essentially appointed someone else to be President, and I’m afraid he’s not that far from the mark.