First Published: 2007-06-03

 
Sanchez: US can forget about winning in Iraq
 

Top retired US general says absolutely convinced America has crisis in leadership at this time.

 

Middle East Online

By Sig Christenson - SAN ANTONIO, Texas

Sanchez: ‘I'm not sure America really knows what victory is’

The man who led coalition forces in Iraq during the first year of the occupation says the United States can forget about winning the war.

"I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will -- not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat," retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said in an interview.

Sanchez, in his first interview since he retired last year, is the highest-ranking former military leader yet to suggest the Bush administration fell short in Iraq.

"I am absolutely convinced that America has a crisis in leadership at this time," Sanchez said after a recent speech in San Antonio, Texas.

"We've got to do whatever we can to help the next generation of leaders do better than we have done over the past five years, better than what this cohort of political and military leaders have done," adding that he was "referring to our national political leadership in its entirety" - not just President George W. Bush.

Sanchez called the situation in Iraq bleak and blamed it on "the abysmal performance in the early stages and the transition of sovereignty."

He included himself among those who erred in Iraq's crucial first year after Saddam.

Sanchez took command in the summer of 2003 and oversaw the occupation force amid an insurgency that has sparked a low-grade civil war in Iraq.

He was in the middle of some of the most momentous events of the war, among them the dissolution of the Iraqi army and barring millions of Baath Party members from government jobs: two actions seen as triggering the rebellion among Sunni Moslems, who fell from power with Saddam Hussein.

Sanchez is also most closely identified with the Abu Ghraib scandal, which occurred on his watch.

Though he was cleared of wrongdoing by an Army probe, Abu Ghraib's searing images of naked prisoners humiliated by a rogue torture squad cost Sanchez an almost certain fourth star in the Senate, which approves general officer promotions.

Sanchez, 56, declined to talk about Abu Ghraib or other key events of the war, or say who was to blame for what went wrong.

"That's something I am still struggling with and it's not about blame because there's nobody out there that is intentionally trying to screw things up for our country," he said. "They were all working to do the best damn job they can to get things right."

Despite those good intentions, Americans will be forced to "answer the question what is victory, and at this point I'm not sure America really knows what victory is," said Sanchez, who is thinking of writing a tell-all book about his year in Baghdad.

Sanchez said a large troop commitment would be needed for years to come but conceded it is "very questionable" if Americans would support it.

Still, he said, "the coalition cannot afford to precipitously withdraw and leave the Iraqis to their own devices."

 

‘Islamic State’ gives Jordan 24 hours before execution of hostages

Erdogan says Turkey opposed to Syrian Kurdistan

Three killed in Tripoli luxury hotel attack

Baghdad flights suspended after ‘arms fire’ hits flydubai jet

Saudis pledge allegiance to new king on Twitter

UN harshly criticises Turkey for deterioration of human rights

Ex-Shebab chief urges others to surrender in first public appearance

Bomb kills and wounds three terrorists in Egypt's Alexandria

Three killed in protest against MINUSMA in Mali

Humanitarian crisis looms for thousands of families in southern Iraq

Rockets fired from Syria explode in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

Egypt Grand Mufti condemns actions of Muslim Brotherhood

Residents trickle back to Kobane after expulsion of jihadists

Obama comes to Saudi with heavyweight delegation

Cash-strapped UNRWA halts Gaza house repairs

'Constructive spirit' at Libya peace talks

US says Syria’s Kobane not fully liberated from IS

Egypt court orders release of Mubarak sons pending retrial

Drone targets Qaeda suspects in crisis-hit Yemen

Saudi Arabia seeks greater American role in Middle East crises

Iraq army announces liberation of Diyala from ‘Islamic State’

Tunisia parliament delays confidence vote on new government

After 4 months of fighting, Kurds expel ‘Islamic State’ from Kobane

Libya warring factions meet in Geneva to resume peace talks

Assad: US idea to train rebels illusionary

Tunisia's Ennahda rejects Essid cabinet line-up

Alleged Algerian jihadist arrested in Morocco

UN Security Council to on Yemen crisis

Obama vows to maintain pressure on Qaeda in crisis-hit Yemen

Gaza announces plans to ready sea port for international travel

Barrage of rockets rains down on Syria capital

Egypt extends Sinai state of emergency by three months

Syria ambassador to UN to head government team in Moscow talks

Qatar court tells US family to decide on fate of alleged killer

Gunmen kidnap Libya deputy foreign minister from hotel room

Erdogan visits war-torn Somalia amid tight security

New violence as Egypt marks anniversary of 2011 revolt

Yemen Huthi rebels fire in air to disperse Sanaa protest

Gridlocked streets of Saudi capital turn quiet for day of mourning

Islamist websites confirm death of Ansar al-Sharia chief in Libya

World leaders head to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences

Iran parliament starts to draft law on nuclear enrichment hike

Mauritania prison siege ends with captives freed

Syria opposition demands 'radical democratic change'

Tunisia turns the page on political Islam