Saturday, October 13, 2007

Better late than never?

And yet another retired general crawls out from the woodwork to give his assessment [1] [2] [3] of the disaster that is the Iraq war, laying the vast bulk of the blame on the politicians. From CNN:
Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, coalition commander in 2003 and 2004, called the Iraq war "a nightmare with no end in sight," for which he said the Bush administration, the State Department and Congress all share blame.
Or, as Reuters put it:
A "catastrophic failure" in the Bush administration's leadership of the Iraq war has mired the United States in a nightmarish conflict with no clear way out, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq said on Friday.
But wait, there's more (from the CNN link).

The administration, he said, has ignored messages from field commanders that warned repeatedly that "our military alone could not achieve victory" without corresponding help from the State Department.

"Our National leadership ignored the lessons of World War Two as we entered into this war and to this day continue to believe that victory can be achieved through the application of military power alone," he said.

"From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration's latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economical and military power," he said.

Sanchez said the current strategy, which included a "surge" of troops into Iraq, was "a desperate attempt by an administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war and they have definitely not been able to communicate effectively that reality to the American people."

"Too often, our politicians have been distracted and they have chosen loyalty to their political parties above loyalty to the Constitution because of their lust for power," he said.

And, not one to mince words about the lack of Congressional action over the war, Sanchez stated:

Congress, he said, has failed its job of oversight.

"Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leadership involved in the management of this war," he said. "They have unquestionably been derelict in in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would be immediately relieved or court-martialed."

Finally, from the Reuters article:
Sanchez said military commanders on the ground would continue to make progress in Iraq, providing time in which a "grand strategy" could be developed. But he predicted the effort would be wasted and in the meantime U.S. troops "will continue to die."
Well, that's all well and good that you're coming forward now General Sanchez. Better late, I suppose, than never. But why, may I ask, do you and the other retired military commanders never come out while you're on active duty to speak these truths? You ought to know the impact your condemnations would have if you would do this while still active. Instead, you wait until you're retired to do this. Why? You are under no obligation whatsoever to obey unlawful commands. Keeping your trap shut about the realities of this war, or lying about them to Congress, could very well be interpreted as such since lying to Congress is a crime and therefore not one you are duty-bound to obey.

This is one of the great tragedies of this ridiculously fucked up war: that military commanders allow a misguided sense of duty to tyrants to prevent them from speaking out when it really matters. Don't get me wrong; I think it's great that Sanchez has finally come out with the truth. More military commanders need to do this, especially those directly overseeing operations in Iraq (and, by the way, the all-but-forgotten ones in Afghanistan). But waiting until they're retired and after thousands have already died needlessly just strikes me as being too little, too late.

Another great tragedy is that nowhere in any of the articles I've linked to does Sanchez provide us with his initial opinion of the invasion, or what constitutes "victory". (This requires some kind of goal, which has never been publicly and concretely laid out before the nation -- what are we trying to "win" in Iraq?) You can't define victory unless you understand what it is you're trying to achieve. Sanchez, like so many others, hasn't fully accepted or publicly acknowledged what the true goal in Iraq is for the Bush regime: the first step on the road to global empire.

How many lives, I wonder, might have been spared if even one top-ranking military commander still serving were to step forward and state unequivocally what this war is really all about, and -- as Sanchez and so many others have done -- tell the truth that this war is a disaster and it's because of the politicians whose lust for power has made it such.

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