Gen. Sanchez was recently reported lambasting past and present strategy in Iraq, on grounds, according to Stars and Stripes, that “Such a strategy should involve political reconciliation among Iraqis, building up the Iraqi security forces and getting Iraq’s regional partners.”
True, but one of the things that strikes a visitor to Iraq is that the officers, major to colonel, and Gen. Petraeus himself reiterate exactly that tripartite approach-that is, they stress reconciliation (Gen. Petraeus has an entire working group formally entitled ‘reconciliation’), training Iraq police and army, and involving neighboring states at the formal diplomatic level and the more informal military liaisons and private investors.
In other words, Gen. Sanchez just summed up the present strategy and effort in Iraq. I’m not suggesting this is new, or that under his tenure we weren’t doing the same, only that his present suggestions of what we should be doing are exactly what we are doing.
A final point. What is depressing is that a host of formal civilian and military officials, who during their tenure assured everyone that victory over the insurgents was in sight, then, upon leaving in the wake of criticism (one thinks of Bremer, Franks, Sanchez, etc.), post facto lambasted the effort. The net effect is a lack of credibility among the military and civilian overseers–sort of ‘why should I believe you now, since when and if you are relieved, you will only retroactively tell us how bad was what you now say is good.’
Almost no one senses that the tragedy of war is always error and costly error at that, the side winning who makes the fewest and learns the most from them–and then doesn’t give up.