September 20, 2003

The 20 Billion Dollar Man

The 20 Billion Dollar Man

Jim Hoagland on some of the problems facing Jerry Bremer. Nothing earth-shatteringly interesting in his op-ed.

Except for this interesting nugget:

"The diplomats on Bremer's staff in Baghdad report directly to him, not to Washington. Secretary of State Colin Powell has told friends that he has to rely on newspapers and the diplomatic reporting of other nations that is shared with State to follow developments in Iraq.

Powell no doubt has a point: The lack of communication within the Pentagon itself is a well-known problem, and the fierce rivalries between the two departments rule out what might be described as meaningful contact. This has become a severe problem for Bush, who has tolerated an unacknowledged but visible war between Powell and Rumsfeld."

Hoagland goes on to say he doesn't think this is a big issue. Having Bremer and his staff report up through to State too (and perhaps the U.N.) would just muddy the waters and make the Iraq reconstruction task harder (or so the argument goes).

Hurry up with it all through a clean and simple reporting chain of command from Bremer to Rummy and Dubya. Let Bremer expeditiously pursue "working himself out of a job as soon as he can."

I beg to differ. If true, this is FUBAR, pure and simple.

Listen, perhaps Powell needs to be a bit more careful not to be perceived as overly removed (running out the clock a bit) before moving on to new challenges after Bush's first term (if you believe press rumors, he likely won't serve in a prospective Bush II administration).

Instead, like any good Secretary of State, he's got to fight to protect his turf and thus the interests of Foggy Bottom. I bet he isn't too removed and that he is acting as an effective advocate for State. Still though, to be an effective advocate you need to be well informed.

Surely the Secretary of State of the United States can access information on developments in the "central front" of the war on terror from the American proconsul on the ground. Surely he doesn't need to "rely on newspapers" and the "diplomatic reporting of other nations"? (France?)

You know, Powell might actually have some decent ideas about what to do out in Iraq here and there. Especially if he's getting real time briefings from the guys on the ground rather than reading about it in the WaPo or NYT. Don't you think?

Posted by Gregory at September 20, 2003 06:55 PM
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