Military Brass Distance Themselves From Iraq Choices

It’s all yours, Dubya.

Have fun, Shrub. The military has just called your bluff on the whole “I’ll listen to the generals” bullshit. Now they can’t come to a decision, and they’re dumping it in your lap.

As Truman said, the buck stops here. You won’t be able to hide behind the generals anymore.

"…and, as you know, I have always encouraged an atmospheric of candor amongst my commanders and advisors, so it is not surprising that thier viewpoints are mixed. Opinions vary amongst them as to the degrees of progress being achieved. General Szuchash and General Kischup have, in particular, noted that progress in the crucial area of traffic control can be described as “passable”. Accordingly, I have asked Gen’s Szuchash and Kischup to prepare a comprehensive and thorough report on progress in Iraq and have it delivered to me and to the Congress no later than Jan. 8, 2009…

Gen. Petreaus has indicated a desire to spend more time with such persons who may very well be, so far as he can recall, members of his family. Accordingly, I am promoting him to the vitally important post of USO Tour Coordinator for Southeast Asia…"

Gee, the military follows civilian leadership and their decisions. Whoda thunk it.

I’m sure there is an excellent point within your crisply concise post. I regret that, thus far, it eludes me.

Oddly enough, *this * President is quite publicly telling us to follow Gen. Petraeus, not himself.

How would *you * list the *actual * chain of command in effect here?

And from the link:

So, what’s the big deal here? Petraeus is going to ask for the surge to continue, and Bush is going to follow that recommendation.

The “big deal” is that the Commander In Chief has *already * decided to let a general, and not even the highest ranking one, make his decision for him, whatever that may be. He isn’t even asking for a sneak preview of his report to Congress; The Commander Guy is waiting to be told what to do just like the rest of us civilians. Got it now?

See what I asked about the *real * chain of command here? :dubious:

Well gee, I would think that FDR would have given Ike and Nimitz and Omar Bradley a listen anytime they wanted to have a talk. And the thoughts they had would have been given a lot of consideration, hmm?

Not to say that any of the people here are Ike or FDR, but you all should ask yourselves who was making ultimate decisions in that war. The chain of command means that decisions get made at all levels of it, and everyone in that chain is responsible for the decisions made all the way up and down that chain.

“Give me your recommendation” /= “You decide and I’ll go along, whatever it is.”

Perhaps your definitions of command, authority, decisionmaking, and The Buck are not the conventional ones?

You’re not getting it.

Though I hope options would be given in private, in my experience in big companies you get consensus before presenting a plan to the big cheese. You always give two options, but you hammer out differences between parties before presenting the options. Yeah, he makes the final call. However, the usual way of proceeding would be to have them agree on a course of action, which he would approve or reject. (If they decided to leave now, he’d shoot it down, as would be his right.) The message seems to be that they can’t come to a consensus on how to extract themselves from this mess, so they’re dumping it on the person who got them there. It’s a kind of defiant consent. “I’ll do whatever you say, but I won’t own the situation.” It’s fascinating that it has come to this.

Wait a minute. Are you disagreeing with the OP? He states: “The military has just called your bluff on the whole ‘I’ll listen to the generals’ bullshit. Now they can’t come to a decision, and they’re dumping it in your lap.” So, who is making the decision here, Petraeus or Bush?

Options are going to be presented and differences are going to be hammered out. It is a strategy assessment, and if only one strategy was to be assessed it would be kind of a waste of time.

Even within the broad framework of continuing our mission there, there are broad points of policy that need to be continually reassessed.

I’m getting it fine. I’m just not getting upset about it. A general’s job is to follow orders as much as issue them.

Here’s the thing. “The decision” is whether or not we stay in Iraq, and that’s “the decision” that The Decider has made. What we do while we’re there is going to be decided by Petreaus. Until and unless he tells Bush something Bush doesn’t want to hear. Then Bush will replace him with someone else. But Bush has been telling us for years that he would listen to the generals regarding tactics and strategy in order to win in Iraq-- whatever it even means to “win” there. So, now he’s telling us the same thing. Imagine that!

Oh, I’m sure Bush MUST be doing something wrong here. You guys get your story straight first, then continue the bashing.

Of course, had the generals ‘hashed it out amongst themselves’ and had only Petraeus give a presentation, you guys would be carping that the generals’ views are being suppressed. In another thread you’re bitching that the real report is being written by the White House, and the generals won’t be heard.

Now we find that each general is being given a chance to air his own opinions in public, which seems to me to be a very open thing you guys should be celebrating, but somehow you STILL managed to turn it into some kind of anti-Bush rant. A vague and incoherent one, granted. But still an anti-Bush rant.

Sam, stop doing that, OK? You posit a hypothetical situation and with the certainty ungranted to mortals, assure us how we would respond. That stinks, don’t do it anymore, OK?

I’ve been in more days of meetings figuring out what to present to senior exec VPs and CEOs than I care to remember. You’re right that no general is going to present a plan that includes us leaving. Some things are just out of play.

Here’s a non-war example. Say a decision has to be made about the tradeoff between cost, quality and performance of a product. The CEO makes the final decision, and he has no doubt said already that the cost must be below a certain point. Usually the execs will put together a couple of alternatives and present them, and he decides on the best. If he’s a good CEO, he’ll detect when they present the one they want and a total loser. The execs may have lots of fights in private about this, but usually they’ll “disagree and commit” in Intel language, and present a united front.

But say the CEO wants something impossible, and has already rejected all the good choices. In that case I can imagine them presenting the opposing points of view, and basically throwing the raw data on the table and tell the CEO to decide.
I can imagine CEOs who would make a better choice than the execs. Bush ain’t one of them.

Moto, like I said several options are usually presented. But do you think Bush is the kind of president who will enjoy sitting through a detailed strategy assessment? If Ike were president, I’d want him to. Of course they’re reevaluating the situation, and I agree that Petraeus will have significant - but not the only - input.

I wonder what Gates’ involvement in this is? I’m sure Rummy would have shut everyone down. I’m not saying it is a bad thing that so many voices will be heard, just that it is an indication that the military has no consensus on a way forward.

This really isn’t a convincing argument. Surely the president is meant to support the guy who he’s put in charge of the forces in Iraq? I’m no fan of Bush, and the handling of the whole war has been a fiasco, but this really does look like you’re grasping.

Unless a miracle occurs, and Congress tells him to stuff it.

But aside from that remote possibility, you’re right.


Until, as you say, they tell Bush something he doesn’t want to hear.

Since an instance of this happened just this last winter - the generals were largely agreed that we needed to start gradually reducing the number of American troops in Iraq, but Bush Decided otherwise, and found a general who agreed with him - it’s hard to disagree with this interpretation, I think. (Not that you are - just thinking of other participants in the thread here.)

Bush is, but the generals aren’t.

In the past, the generals reacted by lining up behind the Decider’s new policy. Once The Surge was the deal, the brass stopped suggesting that other choices might’ve been better.

And it’s clear that Petraeus will find reason, the week after next, to say that the Surge needs more time to finish its work, and even more clear that Bush will back him in this.

Yet the military is openly saying that they’re not giving him different options on how to continue the Surge, but different options altogether - with Petraeus apparently being the only high-ranking guy backing the Surge.

ISTM that they’re saying to Bush, “If you continue down this road, it will be over our strong objections. Short of resigning, we’re doing everything we can to say that we believe you should choose another course. If you don’t, don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

The generals have put down a marker, and not on the number that the President has placed his bet on. That’s pretty unusual in the middle of a war, I’d guess.

Now, there’s nothing Constitutionally wrong with a President choosing to overrule his generals. Lincoln did a bit of that, and a damned good thing that he did.

The difference, of course, is that Bush has proven himself to be a blithering incompetent with respect to anything and everything outside the realm of domestic politics, and watching him Decide what our military should do is like watching the SNL skits of Toonces, the cat who could drive a car.

Again, what consensus did our military commanders have in WWII? Or in any other war - remember how things changed in Vietnam after Abrams took over from Westmoreland.

Ultimately the decision has to be made on Pennsylvania Avenue. Both ends of it.

I think you ought to read your pocket Constitution, and remember who takes orders from whom in our setup here.