No Comment — October 13, 2007, 8:59 am

Dereliction of Duty

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.

Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Where Israel and Palestine can go from here, Washington D.C.’s enduring legacy of racial strife, Edward O. Wilson on free will, and more
"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
Israel and Palestine·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If Israel believes it needs to make a wall eight meters high between us and them, let them have it eighty meters high. Under one condition: It has to be on the international border.”
Photograph (detail) © Ali Jadallah / APA Images / ZUMA Wire
On Free Will·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Philosophers have labored for more than two thousand years to explain consciousness. Innocent of biology, however, they have for the most part gotten nowhere.”
Collage (detail) by Frederick Sommer
Astra Taylor on The People’s Platform·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Taking back power and culture in the digital age
“There’s a pervasive and ill-advised faith that technology will promote competition if left to its own devices.”
Photograph © Deborah Degraffenried

Chances that an applicant to a U.S. police force in 1992 was found to be “overly aggressive” on psychological tests:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today