Mullen v. Cartwright
Political warfare has broken out within the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen and Vice Chairman, Gen. James E. Cartwright facing off as bitter foes.
One issue is a nasty battle over whether Gen. Cartwright will succeed Adm. Mullen when he steps down later this year.
Gen. Cartwright, who rose to the top without combat experience, is the reported favorite of President Obama and worked with the president on the ultrasecret operation to kill Osama bin Laden.
According to officials in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, Gen. Cartwright is said to be under scrutiny by three senators who were alerted to character issues, including an inspector general’s report earlier this year that cleared the four-star general of allegations of impropriety related to a female subordinate two years ago.
Additionally, reports are circulating on both sides of the Potomac that Gen. Cartwright’s wife, Sandee Cartwright, is planning to go public with her feelings about her husband.
The Cartwrights are separated, and Mrs. Cartwright has written a letter to several highranking military officers outlining what defense officials say are the reasons for the separation.
The three senators were identified as Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both California Democrats, and Susan Collins, Maine Republican.
“I’m told they are all very upset with Cartwright and claim he did not comport himself well with women,” said one congressional aide.
A second official, however, said Mrs. Feinstein and Mrs. Collins have not expressed any concerns, at least about the inspector general’s investigation, and that Mrs. Boxer’s views were not known.
Spokesmen for Mrs. Feinstein and Mrs. Boxer declined to comment. Congressional aides said the senators were not aware of allegations against Gen. Cartwright but were alerted to the issues by news inquiries.
Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for Mrs. Collins, said the senator “thinks highly of Gen. Cartwright and has worked closely with him.”
Two Pentagon officials said they suspect the dishing of dirt on Gen. Cartwright is coming from someone close to Adm. Mullen, who is lobbying within the government against Gen. Cartwright’s potential nomination to be chairman.
Spokesmen for Adm. Mullen and Gen. Cartwright had no comment.
A militar y official said: “There does seem to be a very active effort to lobby against” Gen. Cartwright.
The official said he had heard that Gen. Cartwright’s view about the chairman’s job is that he is ready to retire but would continue to serve as the top military adviser to the president if asked. He also is not lobbying for the position.
A second national security official said: “It’s not a good thing for these two senior officers to be at odds.”
Adm. Mullen and Gen. Cartwright clashed in the past over U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan and more recently on how the military should respond to China’s militar y buildup, with Gen. Cartwright opposing a tougher posture toward Beijing.
“When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country,” the strategy says. “All states possess an inherent right to self-defense, and we recognize that certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners.”
The report says the United States will “exhaust all options before military force whenever we can.” The United States “will carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs of inaction.”
Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is continuing to oppose ratification of the testban pact.
“Sen. Lugar’s position hasn’t changed since he voted against the treaty in 1999, in part because the treaty has not changed,” Mark Helmke, an aide to the senator, told Inside the Ring in an email. “There is no clear definition of what a test is, and the ability to verify the treaty is still questionable.”
Mr. Lugar is among the more arms-control-friendly Republicans, and his opposition means any effort to ratify the CTBT will be an uphill fight.
Mrs. Tauscher said in her speech that the Obama administration is preparing to launch an “education campaign that we expect will lead to ratification” of the treaty.”
The top State Department arms-control official also has been trying to reach an agreement with the Russians on missile defense that she said in the speech she hopes will “turn what has been an irritant to the United States and Russia relations into a shared interest.”
She did not explain why defending the United States and its allies from missile attacks was an irritant to U.S.-Russian relations, but the policy does not appear to be working.
Not seeing eye to eye? Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James E. Cartwright (left) reportedly is President Obama’s pick as next chairman, but the current chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, is said to oppose him.