John McCaslin


Andrew H. Card Jr., longtime chief of staff to President Bush before stepping down after six years, has joined Fleishman-Hillard International's 13-member advisory board as a senior strategist.

A former vice president of global government relations at General Motors, and before that president and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, Mr. Card joins a panel of heavy-hitters that includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and fellow former White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta, who served under President Clinton.

No direction

It's not just Democrats, but the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that now is saying the U.S. government's efforts in Iraq "lack strategies with a clear purpose, scope, roles and performance measures."

GAO audits and oversight on securing, stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq, compiled in a rather critical report dated Oct. 30, find that "no lead agency provides overall direction, and U.S. priorities have been subject to numerous changes."

U.S. allies, meanwhile, have offered little assistance. The GAO states that from the start, whatever U.S. strategy existed at the time "assumed that the Iraqis and international community would help finance Iraq's reconstruction."

But the Iraqis are divided as a country and people, and the international community pledged a mere $15.6 billion for reconstruction efforts, $11 billion of which is in the form of "loans." Compare that to the U.S. Congress, which since 2003 has obligated nearly $400 billion for Iraq, with billions more on the way.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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