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January 31, 2008

Chain of Command
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

In a totally expected development, Tom Ricks reports that troop levels in Iraq will likely be higher come election day 2008 than they were on election 2006.  This again, despite objections by senior military officials and the Defense Department. 

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and top military officers have said they would like to see continued withdrawals throughout this year, but Bush has indicated he is likely to be guided by Petraeus's views.

Max and Pat have both written about this before, but it's worth hammering this point home.   This management situation is completely ridiculous.  Think of the U.S. government as a corporation (Just for the purposes of this exercise.  Nothing to do with privatization).  Bush is the equivalent of the Chairman of the Board and Gates and Admiral Mullen play the roles of CEO of the company (DOD and the military).  Gates's and Mullen's job, along with the Joint Chiefs, is to think big picture and look at the overall health of the company and where it needs to be putting its assets.  Petraeus is the VP of one department.  An important department such as marketing.  But still just one department.  Yet here we have the Chairman of the Board essentially reaching down, ignoring all other concerns such production (Afghanistan), research and development (Pakistan), finance (China) and saying that the only thing that matters is marketing.  It's just bad management.

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Comments

Once again, we have an estimate that the Iraq war has been responsible for over one million deaths in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. This time the estimate comes from the respected British polling group Opinion Research Business. But the numbers are consistent with the earlier Lancet study.

We add this hideous sum to some others: the four to five million refugees the war has produced; he savings that have been wiped out; the untold destruction of homes and property; the enduring grief and irreparable losses of the family members who have survived these one million dead; the catastrophic injuries; the torture victims; the disfigurements. Iraq is a smoldering, stinking hell on Earth, and future generations will speak of it in the same tones as Rwanda, as they agonize over why they were unable to do anything to stop it.

We also have word today that US oil companies offered Iraqi MP’s five million dollars each to pass an oil law aimed at getting the biggest possible piece of the action for US firms. So even as the United States perpetuates this atrocity in Iraq, an atrocity astounding in its scope given the naive illusions and flamboyant overconfidence with which it was launched, it even yet licenses armies of pestilential scavengers to feed on the remains of the country it has killed.

Brutalization and pillage on such a scale aren't easy, or cheap. And indeed, it appears that in the end at least one trillion dollars will have been detached from the US treasury in order to fund this fatal onslaught. One trillion dollars that could have been spent building thousands of state of the art schools, curing the sick, transforming our energy system, or sending every talented young person in America to college – all of it squandered in the great Washington whorehouse and the Iraqi casino of death.

Is it possible that at least a few of our self-styled foreign policy experts and think-tankers might mention these realities from time to time, or are they determined to perpetuate the impression that they are an undead army of moral zombies, pathetic servants of vile corporate and political overlords, staggering and groaning deliriously about the merits of “surges” and “awakenings” and “residual forces”, oblivious to fundamental humanity and incapable of grasping even the most salient moral realities?

Petraeus seems to be just like General MacArthur in that they both seemed to overstrech their troops, Petraeus in Iraq and MacArthur in New Guinea, the Phillipines, and Korea. MacArthur and Petraeus both overstepped their constitutional boundaries with MacArthur it was talking with congressional leaders about including Tawainese troops in Korea and using the atomic bomb against the Chinese and the North Koreans. While Petraeus is using congressional hearings to promote a longer committment to Iraq and now he wants to go above his immediate superiors in order to prolong the war. The only difference is that Roosevelt and Trumman put a brake on MacArthur's ambitions while Bush wants to accommadate Pretraeus. Once again Bush is discarding the constitution and civilian control of the military in order to support his agenda. It is ironic that Bush who compares himself to Trumman does not respect Trumman's respect for the chain of command.

Sorry, I spelled Truman incorrectly as Trumman.

It's a bad analogy. Goldwater-Nichols took the Joint Chiefs out of the chain of command. Central Command reports directly to Sec Def. The US Army is responsible for training and maintaining it's units but they do command them operationally. There has always been friction between the Commanders of the joint commands (the Cincs) and the service chiefs.

To put it another way Central Command, like the other joint commands, is the customer for the products each service provides. Petraeus commands Multi-National Force Iraq which reports to Central Command as does Combined Forces Command Afghanistan. Central Command is responsible for Iraq, Afghanistan, and 25 other countries.

So in actuality command goes from Bush to Gates to Fallon to Petraeus. Petraeus's boss works for the Sec Def and is also responsible for Afghanistan. He's not running his own show at the expense of everyone else but is operating directly for Central Command and the President.

The President is responsible for how many forces we have in Iraq. Petraeus asks for the forces he thinks he needs for the mission assigned to him. It's not his job to balance the needs of other commands- that's the President through his Sec Def.

It's not a corporation with Bush the CEO unless you view the Board of Directors only meeting once every four years.

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I am so with you,rolex watchIs it possible that at least a few of our self-styled foreign policy experts and think-tankers might mention these realities from time to time, or are they determined to perpetuate the impression that they are an undead army of moral zombies, pathetic servants of vile corporate and political overlords, staggering and groaning deliriously about the merits of “surges” and “awakenings” and “residual forces”, oblivious to fundamental humanity and incapable of grasping even the most salient moral realities?
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