The next half year in Iraq will determine whether we have gained a strategic advantage or failure in the war on terror. While no one can know the outcome, it is certainly plausible, and may be likely, that civil war will break out after the transfer of authority on June 30. Our government should act promptly and boldly to minimize the chance of that catastrophic outcome.
Bringing order and benign self-government out of the murderous chaos of post-Saddamite Iraq was always going to be a difficult job. But, unambiguously, mismanagement of the post-war occupation has made matters even worse -- and must be instantly rectified.
Putting to one side the failed performances of various individual U.S. government officials in Iraq, the central failure (which is within our government's power to control) derives from the lack of unified command of our military and civilian activities in Iraq. Military, diplomatic, intelligence and other functions all go up separate chains of command to separate Washington HQ's. The stories are legion floating through Washington corridors of damage done to our effort due to bureaucratic infighting and incompetence. The word procurement comes to mind, among other things. Our best chance of avoiding a strategic reversal in Iraq is to put one man in Iraq with complete line operational command of all our policies, activities and assets.
The Romans called it proconsul. The British called it viceroy. We called General Eisenhower Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. Call it what you may, we desperately need one man, one mind in charge. That job cannot be done from Washington, and the person with that job can have no other.
He must be both a manager of bureaucracies, a shrewd interpreter and manipulator of men, and a man capable of designing and implementing a strategic policy. He must possess a sheer personal presence that elicits cooperation, if not subordination, from other powerful and unruly men. Moreover, that man must be big enough to withstand all pressures from Washington. Of all the plausible candidates for such a command, Colin Powell pre-eminently leads the list.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.