Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Commander in Chief" is Obsolete

President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq has convinced me that the unilateral responsibility for direction of our strategic military decisions cannot be housed in the presidency. As I write, Bush is again speaking as the "decider" and the "Commander in Chief", thumbing his nose to congress and the American people. He speaks of consulting with congress, but his idea of consulting is to tell them what to do. He bashes congress for wishing to "micromanage" the war, when that is exactly what they are not involved in.

Congress needs to have much more power regarding the strategic direction of our military, and not simply power emanating from their control of the nation's purse. The republicans in congress have been able, so far, to avoid accountability for the lack of Bush's success by deferring to his constitutional role as Commander in Chief. If their congressional leadership during the 2003-2006 period had also been accountable for support of Bush's strategy, I believe the direction of the war would now be different because different strategic choices would have been made.

The initiation of the Iraq war was made possible by a congressional vote allowing the president to take military action. It makes no sense that the congress should not review this authority on an ongoing basis, and adjust it as necessary from a strategic standpoint. We need to have more control over an executive who, by virtue of his position, can pursue military adventures without constant oversight.

This concept makes a lot of sense if we look at our government as a corporation, the largest corporation in the world. The chief executive has tremendous power in a corporation, but he or she also is accountable to the board of directors. When the chief executive errs significantly in determining the corporation's strategy, the board can intervene and either force strategy changes or fire the executive. Unfortunately, our governmental structure does not include a body like a board of directors. Congress can impeach (fire) a president, and it can de-fund a president's initiatives, but it does not have an adequate role in determining military strategy. Time for a change.

No comments: