WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 - 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.
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.
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.
General Sanchez said he was convinced that the American effort in Iraq was failing the day after he took command, in June 2003.
Asked why he waited until nearly a year after his retirement to voice his concerns publicly, he responded that it was not the place of active-duty officers to challenge lawful orders from the civilian authorities.
General Sanchez, who is said to be considering writing a book, promised further public statements criticizing officials by name.
"There has been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders," he said, adding that civilian officials have been "derelict in their duties" and guilty of a "lust for power.
"White House officials would not comment directly on General Sanchez's remarks. "We appreciate his service to the country," said Kate Starr, a White House spokeswoman.
She noted that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the current top commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador to Baghdad, said in their testimony to Congress last month that "there's more work to be done, but progress is being made in Iraq. And that's what we're focused on now.
"General Sanchez has been criticized by some current and retired officers for failing to recognize the growing insurgency in Iraq during his year in command and for failing to put together a plan to unify the disparate military effort, a task that was finally carried out when his successor, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., took over in mid-2004.
General Sanchez included the military and himself among those who made mistakes in Iraq, citing a failure by top commanders to insist on a better post-invasion stabilization plan.
Tell that to the tens of thousands that have died since he realized any of this, or the millions that voted for Bush a second time because they thought he was doing such a good job. Like General Pace said to Rumsfeld a while back, it is not an option, but a soldiers duty to correct an injustice he sees, by any means necessary, however unpleasant it might be at the time.
Bush wars to cost 40 times higher than original estimates; $8,000 per man, woman child in US 10/24/2007 @ 8:43 am click here for link Filed by Nick Juliano
Advertisement New estimates show Iraq, Afghanistan will cost US $2.4 trillion; White House refuses to provide estimate
The United States is spending about $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country to pursue wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to new estimates that show the wars will cost about $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
More than one-fourth of the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $705 billion -- will go to paying interest on the wars' costs, which are being funded with borrowed dollars, according to an estimate to be released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Iraq accounts for about 80 percent of the costs with a $1.9 trillion tab, including $564 million in interest, a House budget committee staff director told USA Today, which reported the numbers Wednesday morning.
"The number is so big, it boggles the mind," Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) told the newspaper.
The CBO previously estimated the war's costs at $1.6 trillion, which did not include interest payments or Bush's latest request for an extra $46 billion in war funding.
Since President Bush decided to invade Iraq in early 2003, the war's costs have skyrocketed as government number-crunchers continue to revise their estimates.
The latest estimate is more than 40 times higher than the Bush administration's initial estimates that the war would cost between $50 billion and $60 billion; meanwhile a proclivity for cutting taxes has marked Bush's tenure almost as much as his dedication to mounting international invasions.
The latest CBO report puts government estimates in line with those from outside economists, who have long warned against the war-on-the-cheap pipe dreams of Bush and his allies. In 2002, Yale economist William Nordhaus estimated the war would cost $1.6 trillion by 2012, and last year Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the costs could exceed $2 trillion.
Responding to the latest estimate, White House spokesman Sean Kevelighan refused to provide USA Today with an administration estimate of the war's cost, but he couldn't resist accusing Democrats of "playing politics" and "trying to artificially inflate" funding levels.
The CBO assumed that 75,000 troops will remain in Iraq a decade from now in calculating the estimate. Although it is "very speculative," that estimate is far from unreasonable, Loren Thompson, a nonpartisan defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the newspaper.
Already, the wars' $604 billion price tag is higher than than the costs of conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, when adjusted for inflation, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
FLASHBACK, MARCH 2003 During the taped interview shown on the March 6 edition of The Pulse on the Fox broadcast network, this exchange occurred: O'Reilly: "If you are wrong, all right, and if the United States -- and they will, this is going to happen -- goes in, liberates Iraq, people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers, all right, we find all kinds of bad, bad stuff, all right, in Iraq, you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?" Garofalo promised: "I would be so willing to say I'm sorry, I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say you were wrong, you were a fatalist, and I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, hey, you were right, I shouldn't have doubted you. But I think to think that is preposterous."
I even have a VHS recording of Bill O'Liely on March 21, 2003, I will upload it to YouTube one day, where he says something like, "I don't care what the war costs, 5 billion, whatever, I don't care, spend it! I want my children protected from anthrax!!" Unfuckingbelievable.