Mister Pterodactyl
Friday, May 18, 2007
Pretty soon we're gonna need a 'czar czar'
[Standard Disclaimer: if you're coming to Mister Pterodactyl for expert foreign policy analysis, you probably shouldn't have sharp things.]

Last week, President Bush named Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute as the new ‘war czar’ for Iraq and Afghanistan. Except that he didn’t, really. I can't find a single citation of anyone within the government anywhere using that term. I wonder where it came from. I'm guessing it got tossed out in an early news report and just stuck.
The new position is actually called 'assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan policy,' or something like that, and the job is to “…improve the coordination of military and civilian efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan by different parts of the government" and "have the single, full time focus on implementing and executing the recently completed strategic reviews for both Iraq and Afghanistan."
Sounds ok to me. Insofar as it actually means anything.

This article fleshes out the new job, a little: “the Defense and State departments have long struggled over their roles and responsibilities in Iraq, with the White House often forced to referee…the new czar would also have ‘tasking authority,’ or the power to issue directions, over other agencies.” So this official would be able to speak with the authority of the President. Or at least will be relaying the President’s decisions, which seems more likely. I have trouble believing that 3-star Lute is going to be calling the shots for 4-stars Pace and Petraeus.

Not everybody's having that much trouble though. Example: "Jon Soltz, who leads an organization of veterans critical of administration's war policy, said there is already a war czar — Bush."
More Mr. Soltz (same interview, different article): "Whatever the name of the position is, this proves the president is throwing in the towel when it comes to directing the military, and is giving up his constitutional role."

And here's somebody who thinks Lute is "on the White House staff to direct combat operations."
I'm pretty sure they're both wrong, but hey, a czar and all, and "the whole concept of a 'czar' implies a supreme boss." Words have meanings, after all. Still, if the word didn't come from the same place the policy did...
...do you suppose somebody's using that word because they misunderstood the policy, or is the use of the word making somebody think the new job is something it's not?

Based on my surfing (i.e. 'research') 'somebody' is in the minority. Anybody know what CNN's been saying?

Side note: also last week, Wolfowitz quit his post at the World Bank. Wolfie got a raw deal over there. I hope they name John Bolton to replace him.
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