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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:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:
A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”