The problem in Iraq isn’t military, it’s diplomatic and Gen. David Petraeus is just a guy in the way. The man upon whom success in that country truly rests is Ambassador Ryan Crocker – a man whose role in bringing an end to the Iraq morass should be pivotal, but is overshadowed by the very man whom he rightly should supervise.
Fans who have been counting down the Bush regime with Keith Olbermann know the low regard in which President George W. Bush holds our U.S. Constitution, so it should come as little surprise that he has abdicated his Article II responsibility as Commander-in-Chief to a low-level field officer.
Or, as Olbermann astutely noted, the administration’s deft creation of the "first half general, half politician in this nation’s history."
The establishment of a civilian president or other government figure as the military's commander-in-chief within the chain of command is one legal construct for the propagation of civilian control.
Another construct to establish such civilian oversight in a foreign country, traditionally falls to the "chief-of-mission," The Ambassador, who serves as the President’s personal representative in overseas theaters. He or she is typically responsible for the conduct of all foreign affairs in the country where assigned and normally negotiates Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) and base rights agreements, as well as economic and military aid programs through command of a country team. This is not the case in Iraq.
The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Ambassador Ryan Crocker) has full authority for the American presence in Iraq with two exceptions: 1—military and security matters which are under the authority of General Petraeus, the U.S. Commander of the Multinational Force–Iraq, and 2—staff working for international organizations. In areas where diplomacy, military, and/or security activities overlap, the Ambassador and the U.S. commander continue cooperating to provide co-equal authority regarding what’s best for America and its interests in Iraq.
In Iraq, the chief-of-mission duties are "coordinated" with the real leader sitting quietly on the sidelines as his rightful underling takes center stage. Even Petraeus’ former military boss was pushed aside to accommodate this new, hybrid position. An empty seat at the top of the Pentagon’s \Central Command formerly belonged to Admiral William Fallon, who so strongly opposed Petraeus's role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq that last month he resigned in bitter protest of Bush’s bypass of normal reporting protocols.
In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.
Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.
During yesterday’s hearings, Senator John Kerry noted Petraeus’ wrong seat act calling him basically a soldier dutifully in lockstep with his orders – one of two "professional implementers of a policy that they don’t make." It spoke to the nature of the problem in Iraq. A mired diplomatic solution overshadowed by military interests because Bush ceded his Command-in-Chief duties to a loyal field officer setting aside his hand-picked, stammering civilian who rightfully should be the man in charge. Instead the front man is a "patriot" who looks really good in a Class A uniform, resplendent with the accoutrements of war.
Senator Barack Obama nailed it by calling for a "diplomatic surge" that includes "measured but increased pressure" and talks with Iran.
I believe that we are more likely to resolve it, in your own words, Ambassador, if we are applying increased pressure in a measured way. I think that increased pressure in a measured way, in my mind -- and this is where we disagree -- includes a timetable for withdrawal.
Nobody's asking for a precipitous withdrawal, but I do think that it has to be a measured but increased pressure; and a diplomatic surge that includes Iran. Because if Maliki can tolerate as normal neighbor-to-neighbor relations in Iran, then we should be talking to them as well. I do not believe we're going to be able to stabilize the position without them.
Obama spoke to Crocker, the real answer man to getting us out of this mess. The military surge has played its part; it’s now time for the diplomatic adults to put the uniformed genie back in its bottle and get down to the real matters of resolving those "messy, sloppy" issues that get us that evasive success we’ve been so desperately seeking.