Mar 12, 2014
General Passed Over for Giving Obama Advice
Posted on May 30, 2011
President Obama nominated Gen. Martin Dempsey on Monday to take over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military adviser to the president. Obama’s first choice for the job, according to The Washington Post, was Marine Gen. James Cartwright, who was reportedly denied the promotion for giving his own assessment of the war in Afghanistan.
The article portrays the president as an awkward fit with military leaders and describes Cartwright as one of Obama’s “favorite and most trusted military advisers.” On several occasions, the paper reports, Obama told Cartwright, who is currently vice chairman of the Chiefs, the job was as much as his. And why not? The chairman is supposed to be the president’s most trusted military adviser. Shouldn’t that person be someone the president trusts?
Apparently politics and hurt feelings took precedent. Here is the key section from the Post story:
It seems Gates and Mullen, both of whom were appointed by George W. Bush and are retiring soon, have a lot of pull in the administration.
There are other complicating factors. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs needs to be confirmed by the Senate and the White House may have felt Cartwright’s nomination would have been a tougher fight to win. And, of course, this is all speculation based on unnamed sources. For all we know, Obama was never interested in the man, or the facts of the situation changed behind closed doors.
But the image of Obama’s top military and foreign policy advisers limiting his options to such a narrow field—and punishing those who go off-message—squares with our understanding of this presidency.
Here is William Pfaff in a 2010 column on the subject:
Obama’s decision for our future military involvement in Afghanistan was always a choice of how many troops to send, not whether to send them at all or bring them home.
Regardless, it’s bizarre to think that the controversy that reportedly cost Cartwright a promotion was the general’s willingness to come up with a plan that sent only an additional 20,000 troops to an irrational war. Happy Memorial Day. —PZS
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