SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
As I noted a couple of weeks ago, General Petraeus’s predecessor, General Ricardo Sanchez, has now emerged as one of the harshest critics of the Bush Administration’s management of the Iraq War from among a whole division of retired flag and senior officers. The New York Times’s David Cloud reports:
In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top American commander called the Bush Administration’s handling of the war incompetent and warned that the United States was “living a nightmare with no end in sight.”
In one of his first major public speeches since leaving the Army in late 2006, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez blamed the administration for a “catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan” and denounced the current “surge” strategy as a “desperate” move that will not achieve long-term stability.
“After more than fours years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism,” Mr. Sanchez said, at a gathering here of military reporters and editors.
The Houston Chronicle picked up on still harsher language in the remarks:
National leaders, said Sanchez, “have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court-martialed.”
I previously studied General Sanchez’s conduct as the field commander in Baghdad in connection with the detainee abuse issue. As I told the Texas Monthly in connection with their profile of Sanchez (who hails from the impoverished Rio Grande valley and now lives in San Antonio), the evidence was unequivocal: Sanchez did not originate, and neither did he object to, any of these policies—they flowed directly from Washington. He bears responsibility for what went wrong under command responsibility standards in any event, however. Sanchez’s decision to speak now comes at great personal risk, which his critics need to appreciate.
Sanchez made very clear that his words are not a criticism of General Petraeus or of other commanders on the ground in Iraq; they are not a criticism of military strategy in any form. Rather they put the focus squarely where it belongs: on the White House’s failure to provide political leadership and to establish clear, achievable political objectives for the military deployed in Iraq. The charge is dereliction of duty. And the charge sticks. Given the reported absenteeism of a certain Texas Air National Guard pilot who also had a problem with drug testing, it’s a long-standing charge.
Now let’s sit back and watch all those forces who kowtow to Petraeus and hold his honor and integrity inviolable. My bet is that this crew will leap on his predecessor like a schools of piranhas. It’ll afford us another lesson in watching the hypocrisy of the G.O.P.’s agitprop team.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
Number of British women killed last fall by lightning conducted through their underwire bras:
British women wear heels for fifty-one years on average, from the ages of twelve to sixty-three.
Thousands of employees of McDonald’s protested outside the company’s headquarters near Chicago, demanding their wages be increased to $15 per hour. “I can’t afford any shoes,” said one employee in attendance, “and I want Versace heels.”
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”