- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2007

Four-star veep

Three of the eight announced 2008 Republican presidential campaigns are considering retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks as their pick for vice presidential candidate, according to Republican Party operatives.

Gen. Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command until he retired in 2003, orchestrated the military campaign that ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The choice of Gen. Franks as vice president would be a direct affront to antiwar Democrats, who plan to make opposition to the Bush administration’s handling of the war the main plank of their campaign platforms.

A staunch Republican, Gen. Franks hails from Oklahoma but considers Texas his home state. Having him on the ticket would boost Republican prospects in the must-win Lone Star state.

The sources, who are well placed in Republican circles, did not identify the campaigns that are considering Gen. Franks. They said Gen. Franks’ consideration also is based on his potential to draw votes in the South, and his role as an eloquent spokesman for winning the global war against Islamist extremism.

All Democratic candidates overtly oppose the Iraq war and most favor ending the Bush administration’s military and paramilitary emphasis on fighting global terrorism. A Democratic administration in 2009 likely would restore the approach of the Clinton administration, which favored law enforcement and diplomacy over military action.

Gen. Franks has been a target of liberals, including several journalists whose books criticized him for a lack of post-invasion planning, and for being close to former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who backed and probably influenced Gen. Franks’ Iraq war plan. That plan used smaller, flexible and speedier combined forces instead of large, massed ground troops.

Gen. Franks, who could not be reached for comment, stated in a 2006 speech that 35 years of military service showed him “no war is ever fought on time.”

“Wars are always started too early or they’re always started too late and it is unfortunate for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have to do the work in accordance with our Constitution,” he said. “But you know what: We have a way, we have a history sometimes in spite of ourselves in this country, of winning the wars we start and this one will be no exception. America will get this done.”

Mullen on China

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chief of naval operations slated to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Beijing recently he didn’t understand the political nature of China’s communist-controlled military.

Adm. Mullen said he met during his visit earlier this month with one of the Chinese military’s “political commissars,” prompting a reporter to ask him about holding military exchanges with an armed force controlled by a political party instead of a national government.

“Quite frankly, I haven’t spent any time on the connection of how the Chinese government works or the political aspect,” Adm. Mullen said. “I’m not a political individual; I’m a U.S. military guy in the U.S. military. And that’s where I spend my time. So I haven’t really spent any time either studying what you’ve asked or reaching any kind of conclusion with respect to that.”

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the admiral needs to understand the fundamental difference between Communist Party armies and national armies.

Story Continues →