Former Iraq Commander Calls The Kettle Black

No one except perhaps the most extreme and myopic supporters of the war in Iraq believes that tragic mistakes and blunders were not made by the Pentagon, the White House, the military, the State Department, and anyone and everyone connected with that effort during the last 3 years.

Therefore, it should come as no suprise that a former Commander in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, is trying to shift the blame for some of his own shortcomings
on other shoulders:

In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration’s handling of the war “incompetent” and said the result was “a nightmare with no end in sight.”

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.
AT National Security Correspondent Doug Hansen is livid:

Sanchez is an incompetent; not the president or the WH. He was the Pat Paulsen of the general officer corps and failed in every task assigned including his vaunted "new idea" of rebuilding the Iraqi Army. BTW, he is also a liar. He didn't want to promote reconciliation; he wanted "more intel" to deal with the Baathist guerillas, but this was largely academic since he wouldn't do anything operationally anyway even if he did know where the bad guy was (In fact, we knew where he was), but Sanchez preferred a Sitzkrieg. What a boob.

AT News Editor Ed Lasky is even less impressed:

Seems to me that the same people who were bashing General Sanchez when he was in command during Abu Ghraib will now be embracing him as a hero. Of course, the fact that the surge -and the situation in Iraq-is getting better reviews must be galling to him so he must disparage the work of his successor.

Bottom line: Sanchez is of a type all too familiar to the military. He retired in something of a humiliating fashion thanks to both his performance in Iraq and the Administration's refusal to award him a fourth star.

Does it rankle that, as Lasky points out, the current strategy is working to the extent that gains are being made in Iraq? He wouldn't be human if it didn't.

But his own role as commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal leaves him vulnerable to criticism that he is shifting the blame from himself to the administration that ultimately replaced him and declined to nominate him for a fourth star, forcing his retirement.

Though he was cleared of wrongdoing in the abuses after an inquiry by the Army’s inspector general, General Sanchez became a symbol — with civilian officials like L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority — of ineffective American leadership early in the occupation.
"Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan," has applied to military commanders since humans started making war. Seeking to shift blame for one's own shortcomings is natural and generals have seemed particularly susceptible to finger pointing down through the ages.

But in this case, Sanchez seems even more "vulnerable" to questioning his motives for speaking out as even the New York Times points out above due to the royal hash his efforts made of the war while he was commander in Iraq.

No rational person is saying that the Administration and others in government were not to blame for much of what has gone wrong in Iraq in the past. That's why they sit in the big chairs and make the big bucks. But taking responsibility for one's own mistakes seems to be a quality that has passed General Sanchez by.

And hanging breathlessly on every word uttered by Sanchez was a press more than willing to dwell on past mistakes despite the evidence coming out of Iraq that there has been a gradual, significant improvement that the Iraqis seemed determined to maintain and expand.


Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

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