That said, General Sanchez -- who, if there is any justice in this world, should've shared a cell next to Lynndie England -- does seem quite capable of pointing out the flaws of some of those around him, even as he downplays his own complicity in the clusterfuck that is Iraq.
Fmr. General Sanchez addressed a convention of military reporters on Friday. Here is an excerpt of his speech:
"After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve "victory" in that wartorn country or in the greater conflict against extremism. From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan to the administration's latest "surge" strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchromize its political, economic, and military power. The latest "revised strategy" is a desperate attempt by an administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war and they have definitely not communicated that reality to the American people. An even worse and more disturbing assessment is that America can not achieve the political consensus necessary to devise a grand strategy that will synchronize and commit our national power to achieve victory in Iraq.
Some of you have heard me talk about our nation's crisis in leadership. Let me elaborate.
While the politicians espouse their rhetoric designed to preserve their reputations and their political power -- our soldiers die! Our national leadership ignored the lessons of WWII 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. Our forefathers understood that tremendous economic and political capacity had to be mobilized, synchronized, and applied if we were to achieve victory in a global war. That has been and continues to be the key to victory in Iraq. Continued manipulations and adjustments to our military strategy will not achieve victory. The best we can do with this flawed approach is to stave off defeat. The administration, Congress, and the entire interagency, especially the Department of State, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure and the American people must hold them accountable.
(Editor's note: What Sanchez doesn't mention is that Rumsfeld neuterred both the Department of State and the CIA, and threw away over a year's worth of DoS planning prior to the invasion. Rumsfeld wanted the military calling all the shots... he got it. Sanchez should be honest and admit that Iraq's strategic failure was a DoD fuckup, as designed by the Bush administration. He can't and shouldn't expect the State Department to have stepped up and bailed their asses out with political, economic, and reconstruction-oriented solutions, when his own boss did his absolute best to shut them out.)
There has been a glaring, unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders. As a Japanese proverb says, "Action without vision is a nightmare." There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight.
Since 2003, the politics of war have been characterized by partisanship as the Republican and Democratic parties struggled for power in Washington. National efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising effective, executable, supportable solutions. At times, these partisan struggles have led to poltical decisions that have endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that poltiical power had greater priority than our national security objectives. Overcoming this strategic failure is the first step towards achieving victory in Iraq. Without bipartisan cooperation, we are doomed to fail. There is nothing going on in Washington that would give us hope.
. . . America's dilemma is that we no longer control the ability to directly influence the Iraqi institutions. The soveriegn Iraqi government must be cooperative in these longterm efforts. That is not likely at the levels necessary in the near term.
Our commanders on the ground will continue to make progress and provide time for the development of a grand strategy. That will be wasted effort as we have seen repeatedly since 2003. In the mean time, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will continue to die."
If I were so descriptively blunt, I would be called defeatist and anti-American.
Given who is saying this, however, I find this to be something closer to a post-mortem. Play taps softly and turn out the lights. The party is over.
...and yet more people keep on dying.