Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gen. Sanchez, The War And The Media

By Cernig

Everyone is talking about General Sanchez, the former top American commander in Iraq, who has condemned the Bush administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan", denounced the current “surge” strategy as a “desperate” move that will not achieve long-term stability and described the Iraqi occupation as “living a nightmare with no end in sight" for the US. Sanchez told a gathering of reporters:
“After more than fours 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,”
Kevin Drun notes that:
Between the New York Times account and the Washington Post account, it seems that Sanchez attacked (a) the Bush administration, (b) the Pentagon, (c) Congress, (d) the National Security Council, (e) the "inter-agency process," (f) the State Department, and (g) the media. I don't doubt they all deserve it, but at the same time that's a suspiciously sweeping indictment for a senior guy who says he realized the war was FUBAR the day he took command in 2003 but didn't speak out about it until now.
Over on the cheerleading Right, they're in full spin mode. Captain Ed and the rest are making much of Sanchez blasting the media, quoting the general as saying that:
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. In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved.
If that isn't code for Abu Graib and Sanchez himself, I don't know what is. Stars And Stripes reports that Abu Graib was very much a sore spot while General Sanchez was speaking to military journalists yesterday.

Yet Ed wants to make this statement into the old Scooby-Doo Villain Excuse about the "traitorous liberal media" instead of a whine from the guy with command responsibility at the time atrocities were being committed.

Here's a hint for everyone who might find themselves in Sanchez' shoes - if you don't want "tactically insignificant events" to be big news with a negative strategic impact, then make sure they aren't affronts to humanity.

And here's a hint for Ed and his crew - trying to press one general's whines about reporting on the biggest "hearts and minds" failure in Iraq, which happened on his watch, into your own mold and turn the story into one of "the media lost us Iraq" is, at the very least, begging the question.

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