Like me, other bloggers wonder what took him so long. I'm not sure of the implications of speaking out against civilian leaders in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so I'll let others speculate.
Like Sanchez himself:
Asked why he did not speak out about his concerns, Sanchez said general officers take an oath to carry out the orders of the president while in uniform.
“The last thing that America wants, the last thing that you want, is for currently serving general officers to stand up against our political leadership,” he said.
However, general officers do have the option of stepping down if they disagree with the country's leaders.
Sanchez said he felt he could not resign and go public with his reservations while he was in Iraq, because he feared that move could further jeopardize troops serving there.
“I think once you are retired, you have a responsibility to the nation, to your oath, to the country, to state your opinion,” he said.
Problem is, Sanchez has some dirty laundry:
In this case, the criticism, nearly a year after he retired from active duty, might be heard in light of Sanchez's own record in Iraq. The general was the one who approved temperature extremes, sleep-cycle reversal, bread-and-water diets and confiscating prisoners' religious items of inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. He personally ordered the use of unmuzzled dogs there, following advice of commanders at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he also ordered interrogators to pose as officials of countries known to torture prisoners.
That, of course, was in the days when some people still believed the United States wasn't one of those countries.
And some other Generals have already auditioned for this role of late-to-the-dance critic, like Batiste, Newbold, Eaton & Zinni:
Earlier this week Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, the former director of operations for the joint chiefs of staff, published a scathing critique of the planning for the war in an essay for Time magazine. Gen Newbold said he regretted not objecting more forcefully to the invasion of Iraq while he was still in uniform.
He went on to call on those still in service to speak up. "I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't -or don't have the opportunity to - speak."
So does that mean it's OK for uniforms to openly criticise the civilian leaders?
If so, then truly, why wait until now, Gen. Sanchez?
And in Sanchez' own words:
“There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight,”
“From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration’s latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize the political, economic and military power,” Sanchez said.
Continuing changes to military strategy alone will not achieve victory, rather it will only “stave off defeat,” he said.
Yet we must stay. Screwed if we leave, screwed if we stay. Dude, ultimately, you're not helpful.