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. The War Czar Compromise: Part 2

The smoothest, most successful war-making structure since World War II came under President George Herbert Walker Bush in the 1991 Gulf War. Bush ran a smooth chain of command with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell, directing his ground forces commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and giving him a free operational hand as smoothly as Marshall had ever worked with Eisenhower in World War II, or Marshall and Collins with their ground-force commanders Gens. Matthew Ridgeway and James Van Fleet during the Korean conflict.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) May 18, 2007
The Bush administration looked for a "war czar." Instead it got a "junior war coordinator." But according to American history and to the U.S. Constitution, who should be "war czar" anyway? The whole concept of a "czar" implies a supreme boss. The term, after all, described the all-powerful, authoritarian emperor of all the Russias for more than 400 years.

At times of crisis, especially during wars, over the past century, the call has repeatedly gone up for "czars" to be given sweeping authority over key areas of American war-making, manufacturing or other areas of American life to address some crucial crisis of the moment.

However, as Anthony Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, noted in a statement Wednesday, "Every past 'czardom' since World War II -- and during the Franklin Roosevelt era for that matter -- largely failed."

"Departments and agencies found too many ways to resist. Even when they were pushed into action, they often dumped their lower-grade personnel (or) coordinated action to death," Cordesman said.

In fact, the Constitution of the United States is quite explicit about who the "war czar" of the nation should be whenever the United States has to wage war: That czar is clearly defined in the Constitution as the president of the United States. For it is he who is expressly designated as not only the chief executive and head of state, but also as the commander in chief of the armed forces.

Different presidents have interpreted the nature of the commander in chief's role very differently throughout U.S. history. The second president, John Adams, was the first to separate, in practice, the positions of commander in chief and president. He brought back the revered first president and author of victory in the American War of Independence, George Washington, to raise a new army at a time of heightened international tensions in the late 1790s. But Washington then died, and his power passed to the ambitious, brilliant but unstable Alexander Hamilton. There were fears that Hamilton might put together an army to topple Adams and destroy the infant Republic.

That fear passed. In the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, left no one in any doubt that he was the "war czar." He watched daily operations in the field, especially of the Army of Northern Virginia, with an obsessively close eye. He personally selected and fired generals, and his choice of them was for years remarkably bad.

In World War I, President Woodrow Wilson, who knew nothing about war, gave a free hand for operations on the Western Front -- the decisive theater of military operations and the only one where large numbers of American troops were directly involved, to his experienced and able American Expeditionary Force commander, Gen. John Pershing. On the domestic front, the coordination of U.S. industry to make "made in America" weapons proved wasteful, chaotic and disappointing, particularly in aircraft, but U.S. industrial and manpower resources were so overwhelming that it did not matter anyway.

In World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made all the key strategic decisions himself but did not repeat Lincoln's mistake of trying to micro-manage or obsessively supervise daily military operations -- a trap both Winston Churchill in Britain and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany fell into. On the military side, FDR's "war czar" was not the secretary of war, the venerable Henry Stimson, but Gen. George C. Marshall, the revered Army chief of staff who also served as the most senior of the U.S. chiefs of staff and effectively carried the clout of what today would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Marshall was also a key player in running military operations during most of the Korean War as an acclaimed secretary of defense. His close friendships and easy working relationships with Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II and with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph "Lightning Joe" Collins during the Korean War proved of the greatest value in directing U.S. participation in those conflicts.

During the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, left no one in any doubt that they were the "war czars" who micro-managed -- unsuccessfully -- that conflict.

President Richard Nixon, when he took over that conflict in 1969, stayed personally in charge of all strategic decisions, but unlike Johnson and McNamara, he left their tactical implementation to the ground forces commander, Gen. Creighton B. Abrams, who proved far more skilful than his predecessor, Gen. William Westmoreland. Abrams also enjoyed effective support from Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird.

The smoothest, most successful war-making structure since World War II came under President George Herbert Walker Bush in the 1991 Gulf War. Bush ran a smooth chain of command with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell, directing his ground forces commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and giving him a free operational hand as smoothly as Marshall had ever worked with Eisenhower in World War II, or Marshall and Collins with their ground-force commanders Gens. Matthew Ridgeway and James Van Fleet during the Korean conflict.

In the four years of the Iraq conflict to this point, the United States in fact has had a real "war czar" for most of the time -- that was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, until he was toppled in November after the democratic victories in the midterm congressional elections. That model did not prove to be a successful one.

(Part 3: From Rumsfeld to Lute)

Source: United Press International

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Bush Preparing For British U-Turn On Iraq
London (AFP) May 20, 2007
US President George W. Bush has been told to prepare for a British U-turn on Iraq once Gordon Brown becomes prime minister, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said. A Bush administration official, however, described the report as "baseless." Bush has been briefed by White House officials to expect an announcement on British troop withdrawals during Brown's first 100 days in office, the weekly said.

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