Well, this debate has to take place, so here it is - í la L. Paul Bremer III, retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez blasted the Bush administration at the Military Reporters and Editors conference Friday 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.
Ex-Iraq General Blasts War Planners, Media -- Kelly Kennedy, Army Times
The former top commander of forces in Iraq lambasted reporters Friday for having "agenda-driven biases" he called "a threat to democracy," and then laid out the Bush administration and Congress for bad planning and no clear end state for the war in Iraq.
"There is no question America is living a nightmare with no end in sight," said retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez at an annual professional conference for military reporters outside Washington, D.C. "There is nothing going on today that would give us hope."
Sanchez was head of coalition forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004.
When asked where accountability lay while he headed the forces, as well as for his part in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Sanchez said it was too late for him to do anything when he took over...
Ex-Commander Says Iraq Effort Is 'a Nightmare' -- David Cloud, New York Times
Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan" and denounced the current addition of American forces as a "desperate" move that would not achieve long-term stability.
"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 war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism," General Sanchez said at a gathering of military reporters and editors in Arlington, Va.
He is the most senior war commander of a string of retired officers who have harshly criticized the administration's conduct of the war. While much of the previous condemnation has been focused on the role of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, General Sanchez's was an unusually broad attack on the overall course of the war...
Ex-Commander in Iraq Faults War Strategy -- Josh White, Washington Post
... "The administration, Congress and the entire interagency, especially the State Department, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure, and the American people must hold them accountable," Sanchez told military reporters and editors. "There has been a glaring unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders."
Sanchez lashed out specifically at the National Security Council, calling officials there negligent and incompetent, without offering details. He also assailed war policies over the past four years, which he said had stripped senior military officers of responsibility and thus thrust the armed services into an "intractable position" in Iraq.
"The best we can do with this flawed approach is stave off defeat," Sanchez said in a speech to the Military Reporters and Editors' annual conference in Crystal City. "Without bipartisan cooperation, we are destined to fail. There is nothing going on in Washington that would give us hope." ...
Sanchez Calls War 'a Nightmare with No End in Sight' - Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
While cleared of any wrongdoing, one report found that Sanchez and his deputy, "failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations."
Abu Ghraib was a sore subject Friday for Sanchez, who lambasted the media for using phrases like "dictatorial and somewhat dense," "liar" and "torturer" to describe him.
"I also refused to talk to the European Stars and Stripes for the last two years of my command in Germany, for their extreme bias and single-minded focus on Abu Ghraib," he said.
But Sanchez reserved most of his venom Friday for U.S. officials, saying the U.S. government still has not brought all the resources needed to win in Iraq.
"From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration's latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize the political, economic and military power," Sanchez said.
Continuing changes to military strategy alone will not achieve victory, rather it will only "stave off defeat," he said.
"The administration, Congress and the entire inter-agency, especially the State Department, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure and the American people must hold them accountable."
Even now, the U.S. government has yet to launch a concerted effort to come up with a strategy to win in Iraq, Sanchez said. Such a strategy should involve political reconciliation among Iraqis, building up the Iraqi security forces and getting Iraq's regional partners.
Sanchez acknowledged that U.S. officials have adopted that idea, but added that they do not have the necessary nonmilitary resources to carry it out...
Retired US Iraq Commander Calls Bush Strategy 'Desperate' -- Al Pessin, Voice of America (in full per VOA guidelines)
Retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez says there has been a "crisis of leadership" in the administration and the congress that has led to unnecessary deaths, and that the problem has not been solved by the new strategy President Bush announced in January.
"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 war torn 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 synchronize its political, economic and military power. The latest revised strategy is a desperate attempt by the 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," he said.
Asked to say what strategy he would recommend, General Sanchez enumerated many of the points of the president's approach - train the Iraqi military, promote political reconciliation, build national institutions and work with Iraq's neighbors to get their support. But he said the administration has not synchronized the efforts of all U.S. government agencies or provided enough resources to pursue the strategy. And he says military commanders should have been given more authority to work on traditionally civilian issues, particularly early in the conflict.
General Sanchez was the commander of coalition forces in Iraq from mid-2003 until mid-2004. He was in charge during the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib Prison, and he has since retired. The general has recently begun to make his criticism of the administration public, and on Friday, speaking to the Military Reporters and Editors Association, he had several very sharp things to say.
"There has been a glaring, unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders," he said.
The retired general declined to name individuals, but he singled out the State Department for criticism and charged "neglect and incompetence" by the National Security Council, which operates directly under the president. He was also tough on members of congress.
"While the politicians espouse a rhetoric designed to preserve their reputations and their political power, our soldiers die," he said.
And General Sanchez did not exempt the military leadership, including himself, from his criticism, saying it was a mistake not to get the war strategy right, not to understand the impact the invasion would have on Iraqi society and not to do anything about the problems when they first arose. "It was an absolute lack of moral courage to stand up and do what was right in terms of planning. And we allowed ourselves to believe that we, in fact, would be liberators. That was unacceptable in my view, as a general officer," he said.
General Sanchez called for the development of a U.S. national consensus on what he sees as the importance of winning in Iraq, and in the broader fight against extremism. Otherwise, he said, Iraq in particular will continue to be what he called "a nightmare with no end in sight."
There was no immediate reaction from the Pentagon spokesman.
Sanchez on Iraq - The Belmont Club
The Logic of General Sanchez - Captain's Journal
OK, This... Has... Got...To... Stop... - Blackfive
Sanchez Speaks Out - Abu Muqawama
Revising History - MountainRunner
Cruel Mockery - Forward Movement
It Was as if Sanchez Was Just an Observer - Red State
... You Didn't Get it All From the MSM - Chaos-In-Motion