Joining an ever-growing legion of ex-generals critical of the war, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez threw in his two cents on the conduct of the Iraq war on Friday. Much has been made of his comment that Iraq is a "nightmare without end", along with his scathing indictments of the administration, State Department, and Congress. That's not what I found most interesting in his speech, however (though admittedly, there's plenty of blame to go around all the groups he criticized; conspicuously absent was himself, who oversaw the opening stages of the occupation. He defends his silence then on the grounds that his duty was to follow orders and not criticize in public; true, though had he held such serious reservations back then I would at least have expected him to be quite vocal raising them in private, or threaten to resign over policies he felt would kill his soldiers. This is part of an unnerving trend lately amongst the highest echelons of command: silence while in uniform, and then, once their careers were nicely wrapped up, vicious criticism. Where, I wonder, was the moral courage to risk their careers while in uniform when they believed things were going badly wrong? But that's a different issue). No, the most interesting part was the first half, which went completely unreported by virtually all mainstream media outlets. Why, one might ask? Because the first half of Gen. Sanchez's speech was a blistering condemnation of the conduct of the press during the war. A few of my favorite points:
- after reviewing some of the choice names he was called by the press ("dictatorial and somewhat dense", "not a strategic thought", "liar" among the nicer ones), he states his " perception is that the sensationalistic value of these assessments is what provided the edge that you seek for self aggrandizement or to advance your individual quest for getting on the front page with your stories . . . Personal reputations have no value and you report with total impunity and are rarely held accountable for unethical conduct."
- "Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment."
- "Over the course of this war tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media and by extension you the journalist. [perhaps the understatement of the war] In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved. [still awaiting apologies from the media and Jack Murtha to the Haditha Marines, among others]"
- "The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war. "
- "It is astounding to me when I hear the vehement disagreement with the military's forays into information operations that seek to disseminate the truth and inform the Iraqi people in order to counter our enemy's blatant propaganda."
- "Who is responsible for maintaining the ethical standards of the profession in order to ensure that our democracy does not continue to be threatened by this dangerous shift away from your sacred duty of public enlightenment?" [sadly, journalists are their own referees, and by and large their calls go only one way]
That was fully half of Gen. Sanchez's remarks. But it was the "nightmare" quote that made all the headlines. Thank you, MSM, for proving his point, even though you declined to cover it. (full transcript of his comments can be found here)
In other news, Al Gore shared a Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless efforts to scare the hell out of all of us with global warming ghost stories. I can now sleep better at night, knowing that somehow his Oscar and DVD sales have made our planet more peaceful for all mankind. And here's a list of also-rans who, darn it, didn't make the cut for a Prize because they haven't faced anything nearly as dangerous as Al's eyeball-to-eyeball, come-home-with-your-shield-or-on-it, showdown with the ozone layer.
And finally, a grudging acknowledgement of the drop in violence we've seen lately in Iraq, though doubtless Hillary's suspension of disbelief on the subject will remain almost as strong as that concerning the crazy notion that she could have dirty fundraisers donating to her campaign.