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Yet another leak out of the White House: President Bush has quietly been searching for what could be called, for lack of a better term, a “war czar” to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That official would have the title assistant to the president, report directly to Bush and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and have the authority to issue instructions to the departments of Defense and State and other agencies.
Bush had hoped to have somebody already lined up so he could, as he likes to do, spring a surprise announcement. But, according to The Washington Post, which broke the story, after a search of some weeks the White House has yet to find someone willing to take the job and has been turned down by at least three generals.
Only one of the three, retired Marine Gen. Jack Sheehan, was willing to speak to the Post about why he turned down the job and his reasons for doing so are profoundly troubling.
According to the Post, “Sheehan said he believes Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way to get out of Iraq. ‘So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, No, thanks.’ ”
If not an actual czar, the White House still has to find someone to concentrate on the wars because the staffer who does that now, deputy national security adviser Meghan O’Sullivan, has announced her departure.
Without a commitment to a change of direction in the war, Bush may find it hard to find someone with the stature and the clout to override turf issues and do battle with the vice president’s office. The idea of a war czar would have been a good one — four years ago.