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Why I Declined to Serve
Gen. John J. Sheehan Explains Rejecting War Czar Offer
"I concluded that the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically," Gen. John J. Sheehan, USMC, Ret. writes in a Washington Post op-ed today explaining his decision to decline the invitation to serve as a kind of "war czar" to the Bush Administration.

When asked whether I would like to be considered for the position of White House implementation manager for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I knew that it would be a difficult assignment, but also an honor, and that this was a serious task that needed to be done....

What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration is that there is no agreed-upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region. In my view, there are essentially three strategies in play simultaneously.

Sheehan lays out three basic strategies as he views them, very broadly summarized:

--trying to win security in a block-by-block fight

--holding the Iraqis to benchmarks to pressure them into assuming a greater mantle of responsibility

--identifying the regional context, and trying to work a solution within that framework

Sheehan writes, "Of the three strategies in play, the third is the most important but, unfortunately, is the least developed and articulated by this administration."

Regretting he had to decline the invitation to serve his country again, Sheehan concludes:

"It would have been a great honor to serve this nation again.... (But) these huge shortcomings are not going to be resolved by the assignment of an additional individual to the White House staff. They need to be addressed before an implementation manager is brought on board."

Sheehan was one of three former generals who the Washington Post recently reported had turned down the same job offer.


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