Drawing the Line of Fire

  • Share
  • Read Later

WASHINGTON, D.C.: If William Cohen insists on standing by his man, he may soon be standing alone. Despite backing from Cohen and current Joint Chiefs chair John Shalikashvili, some military officers and even Colin Powell say that Joseph Ralston should back out of consideration for the military's top post. President Clinton may soon agree, reports TIME's Mark Thompson. "I can't see why the President would want to endure this nomination process. It promises unsavory televised hearings, focused not on military matters, but on personal matters. It's not as if Ralston is a popular figure or something. Nobody's even heard of his name until this week." Thompson notes Cohen has left himself plenty of room for retreat: "He never really singled Ralston out. All Cohen said was that his affair didn't automatically disqualify him." But finding a new candidate has some pitfalls for the Pentagon. "Ralston is the kind of chairman the Pentagon wants, a status quo guy. Marine General John Sheehan, who currently runs the U.S. Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Virginia, is the next obvious choice. But he's something of a radical, who wants to seriously shake up the military. Now, they need to find another status quo guy. That could be tough."