Fellow national security-issue blogger William Arkin is troubled:
The White House announcement last week that it was nominating Dell L. Dailey of South Dakota to be the State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism immediately caught my attention.
Dailey, who is hardly a household figure, is famous in the world of "black" ops. He has been at the forefront of the "war" against terrorism since Sept. 11, commanding the special operations effort from Oman during the Afghanistan war and shepherding through the creation of the current global counter-terrorism war plan while in charge of operations at Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa.
Dailey at the State Department, Admiral Mike McConnell as the Director for National Intelligence, General Michael Hayden in charge of the CIA, General James R. Clapper Jr. as Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Lt. Gen. William J. (Jerry) Boykin as Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Ennis as Deputy Director for Human Intelligence at the CIA: All of these men have replaced civilians or sit is normally civilian billets.
… After Feith and Cambone, Rumsfeld and Goss, Wolfowitz and Perle, Libby and Addington, Michael Brown and other horse traders, I understand the yearning for the clear thinking and lack of ideology that is assumed to be resident in those who have worn the uniform of the United States for over 30 years.
It is not that I worry about a military coup, or that I think these men will be too compliant, or will blindly follow orders to war against Iran or undertake some other misadventure. It is more that what America needs is a few more civilians involved in national security, and a few more civilian minds applied to the problem.
Let me see if I’ve got this right:
- Civilian appointees got us into this mess
- Appointees tend to be cronies or political ideologues of varying levels of competence that only serve as the President’s yes-men.
- Military officers tend to be martial ideologues – competent in their respective fields – that will serve as the President’s yes-men.
Soooo . . . we need the President to appoint more people who will work against him?
Frankly, I’d prefer that individuals in key national security positions have a military background (more than a single enlistment or minimum service obligation) for one primary reason: discipline.
All things being equal the one advantage someone with a strong military background has over his civilian competition is the ability to instill a sense of discipline in their subordinates and the willingness to enforce it. Appointees of all stripes have their problems, but if their primary job is advancing an administration’s policies through their respective agencies you want someone who knows how to set objectives, lay down the law and when necessary drop the hammer. Anyone think that Alberto Fernandez wouldn’t have at least been given a lateral arabesque (no pun intended) if someone with 30-years in uniform was at the helm of State when he “misspoke?”
Whether anyone else believes it or not, the President believes we’re at war, and with the passage of time I suspect he is recognizing the value of having people in key positions who recognize that sometimes a wall-to-wall counseling session (figuratively speaking) is the only way to get through to some people.