Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Where's The Dough?
William Arkin writes today about the Walter Reed debacle asking if the problem is funding? He goes on to conclude that the answer is mostly, who knows?

Apparently the Pentagon budget is a serpentine document that, in implementation, bears little resemblance to the budget that is passed by Congress. The Pentagon has much leeway in what to do with the cash based on what they see (or are told) are the immediate priorities.

Given this simple concept, care to guess where the priorities typically are? Or how about where the priorities are lately?

This is yet another issue of policy over incompetence. The problems at Walter Reed, and in care for veterans in general, are systemic and not incidental. When the country's leadership insists on priorities that the Generals say cannot be met, the Generals "reprioritize". When there are not enough troops, equipment or money for a long-term insurgent war, the budgeteers and planners take resources from elsewhere in the system. Put that together with the allure of funding new toys over people and problems like Walter Reed become clear.

The recent firings of military personnel are a sign of some accountability being asked, and likely some of them were appropriate. But the larger problem (and the real problem) is one of the intent and decision-making within our country's leadership. The buck stops at the Presidents desk, and this President has insisted on goals being met despite the best advice of those who know, and without a care in the world as to how those goals will be met. The problems at Walter Reed are, at root, not really any different than those of the larger Iraq war, a number of failed international policies, the budget deficits and on and on and on. To simply blame the generals is just too easy. We need to keep our eyes on the real ball, the fact that Republicans just don't know how to govern.