Bush's "War Czar" Advocated Troop Drawdown - Why Was He Selected?
AP photo by DoD's Helene Stikkel
After a frustrating search for a new "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC News has learned that President Bush has chosen the Pentagon's director of operations, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, for the role.
In the newly created position of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, Lute would have the power to direct the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies involved in the two conflicts.
Lute would report directly to the president and to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
The interesting thing about the selection of Lute is that he advocated for a withdrawal from Iraq back in 2005 so that the Iraqis would step up and take responsibility for their own security. Lute is a proponent of the theory that our forces need to be withdrawn so that the Iraqis no longer have the excuse of an occupation to do nothing on the political front. He was a supporter of General George Casey's and John Abizaid's belief that we needed to train the Iraqis and draw down forces, not surge to an increase, a view that was tossed aside by Bush after the Baker/Hamilton report came out.
"We want to undercut that notion of occupying force," he said, recognising the argument that a less prominent US role could help stabilise the country.
Unfortunately, Lute said this almost 2 years ago.
This begs the question: why would Bush offer the job to someone who believes that the political solution must be pushed immediately while our forces are drawn down, regardless of the outcome of those discussions? Sure, when the president offers you a job, you feel bound to accept, but more senior generals had already blown Bush off. So why would Lute take this job given his well-documented track record in support of a drawdown and handing over control to the Iraqis?
Could there be some truth to the rumors out of the Middle East that Cheney's trip to the region was a warning flare to our allies that we are reducing our troop levels after Petraeus's report in September? Has the White House suddenly realized that GOP support will crumble after September?
(Hat tip to Seven of Six)