Monday, October 5, 2009

Proper Role for Smart General

Interesting piece about where Gen. Petraeus now occupies in the Obama Administration. Not in the front row, apparently. And not that visible either. Given that Obama and Gates have hired his guy for Afghanistan (and the first major replacement of a US general since MacArthur), it would be silly to argue that Petraeus is irrelevant or out of the loop.

Instead, he seems to be playing a normal role, compared to his outsized, out-in-front situation when Bush was president.

To be clear, the job of Petraeus is to give the best military advice and then let the civilians decide. He clearly overstepped his role earlier, and we (ok, I) did not mind because the Bush decision-making process was so very dysfunctional. Now that we have a President who thinks a few steps ahead, a SecDef who is not blinded by his own arrogance, and a strong National Security Adviser, the military guys have to take their situation as a mixed change--less influence but less micromanagement. I think that is a deal they can buy into pretty easily.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think your assessment of Obama's civilian decision-making structure is too rose-tinted - true, civilian authority and decision-making is the desirable state of affairs, but that should not stop military ppl giving military advice, be it public or not - they're not making decisions, just airing their views in public. It's a little weird to call for open debate and then tell top generals to shut up and sit down, since they're the ones who fire the shots that are called. Anyways, my two cents. Keep up the blogging!