Here's this week's news quiz. It's just one question, but it's a big one: Who's in charge of U.S. policy in Iraq? No, seriously, give yourself a simple test. Just look in a mirror and mouth these words: "Overall coordinator and strategist of U.S. policy in Iraq today," and tell me whose picture comes into your head.Is Friedman really as ignorant as his statements in this column? US policy in Iraq is set by the commander of Centcom General Abizaid who is not even mentioned in friedman's column. As with any field commander he is given wide latitude in accomplishing his mission but his policies are reviewed by the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense and ultimately by the President. I think Friedman probably knows this, but liberals are still afraid to criticize US military commanders so they tend to shift responsibility up the chain of command in order to make every issue of operation political.
George Bush? Donald Rumsfeld? Porter Goss? Dick Cheney? Condi Rice? Steve Hadley? Colin Powell? General Casey? Karl Rove? Bono? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Tommy Franks? David Stern? (He should be in charge.)
I confess that I cover this story and it has never been clear to me who was our chief strategist for Iraq - who was really orchestrating the intelligence and public affairs, with the politics, diplomacy and military operations, around a coherent plan that was being communicated to Iraqis and the world. Indeed, I have never understood how an administration that wanted a war so badly and will be judged on it by history so profoundly, could manage it so sloppily. Right now we need an "intelligent czar" for Iraq much more than we need an "intelligence czar" for America.
Friedman also complains that the US has no strategy for communicating its message to the Muslim world. Actually, the US has several ways of communicating witht he Arab world including a US operated satilite channel. But, Friedman's big mistake is overstating the ability of Zarqawi et.al. to communicate their message. If these guys are such great communicators why is it that out of over a billion Muslims they only been able to attract a few thousand insurgents to their cause? Why is Zarqawi complaining about Islamic clerics turning their backs on his appeals for assistance once he was kicked out of Fallujah?
If Friedman would let go of his liberalism long enough to go talk to General Abizaid he would have a better grasp on just how the US is defeating the insurgents and he might even figure out who is in charge.