general eric shinseki appointed secretary of veterans affairs

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired General Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary. He will be the first Asian American to hold the post of Veterans Affairs secretary. More here: General Eric Shinseki To Be Veterans Affairs Secretary.

The choice of Shinseki is interesting and well-deserved... and in many ways, redemptive. Obama said he selected Shinseki for the VA post because he "was right" in predicting that the U.S. would need more troops in Iraq than the Bush administration initially believed.

Shinseki, who served as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003, made headlines for his clashes with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In 2003, Shinseki testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion.

Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, belittled the estimate as "wildly off the mark" and the army general was forced out within months. They were wrong.

Turns out though, Shinseki was very much on the mark, in a way no one really wanted to see. Early last year, President Bush announced a "surge" of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating the numbers needed to stem sectarian violence. Suck it, Rumsfeld.

Shinseki will take over the government's second largest agency, which has been roundly criticized during the Bush administration for underestimating the amount of funding needed to treat thousands of injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eric Shinseki is the first Army four-star general of Japanese American ancestry. What is perhaps most poetic about this appointment is that Obama will make the announcement today, December 7—the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. All things considered, it's a pretty powerful moment.

UPDATE: Asian Americans for Obama has cross-posted this really great diary about General Shinseki by Homer J of Daily Kos: My experience with Eric Shinseki. And here are some Photos and Video from General Shinseki’s Nomination.

UPDATe: Here's a good New York Times on why General Eric Shinseki is a good choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs: A General for the War at Home. Basically, it boils down to the fact the he was right and the Bush administration wrong—and their poor judgment proved costly. Vindicated!

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