Today’s big story as reported by NBC News, headlined ‘A Nightmare With No End in Sight,’ and written by Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube, largely turns the message of retired Lt. Gen. Richard Sanchez’ luncheon address to military reporters and editors on its head.
General Sanchez’ speech comprised a strong condemnation of the MSM unethical conduct and unaccountability, followed by criticism of the Bush Administration’s failure to utilize the government’s political and economic power along with its military power in a coordinated and coherent strategy (including more effective efforts at building an international coalition), with just as much criticism of selfish and irresponsible political partisanship.
Sanchez said about the press:
IN SOME CASES I HAVE NEVER EVEN MET YOU, YET YOU FEEL QUALIFIED TO MAKE CHARACTER JUDGMENTS THAT ARE COMMUNICATED TO THE WORLD. MY EXPERIENCE IS NOT UNIQUE AND WE CAN FIND OTHER EXAMPLES SUCH AS THE TREATMENT OF SECRETARY BROWN DURING KATRINA. THIS IS THE WORST DISPLAY OF JOURNALISM IMAGINABLE BY THOSE OF US THAT ARE BOUND BY A STRICT VALUE SYSTEM OF SELFLESS SERVICE, HONOR AND INTEGRITY. ALMOST INVARIABLY, MY PERCEPTION IS THAT THE SENSATIONALISTIC VALUE OF THESE ASSESSMENTS IS WHAT PROVIDED THE EDGE THAT YOU SEEK FOR SELF AGRANDIZEMENT OR TO ADVANCE YOUR INDIVIDUAL QUEST FOR GETTING ON THE FRONT PAGE WITH YOUR STORIES! AS I UNDERSTAND IT, YOUR MEASURE OF WORTH IS HOW MANY FRONT PAGE STORIES YOU HAVE WRITTEN AND UNFORTUNATELY SOME OF YOU WILL COMPROMISE YOUR INTEGRITY AND DISPLAY QUESTIONABLE ETHICS AS YOU SEEK TO KEEP AMERICA INFORMED. THIS IS MUCH LIKE THE INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS WHOSE EFFECTIVENESS WAS MEASURED BY THE NUMBER OF INTELLIGENCE REPORTS HE PRODUCED. FOR SOME, IT SEEMS THAT AS LONG AS YOU GET A FRONT PAGE STORY THERE IS LITTLE OR NO REGARD FOR THE “COLLATERAL DAMAGE” YOU WILL CAUSE. PERSONAL REPUTATIONS HAVE NO VALUE AND YOU REPORT WITH TOTAL IMPUNITY AND ARE RARELY HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR UNETHICAL CONDUCT. …
1. SEEKING TRUTH,
2. PROVIDING FAIR AND COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT OF EVENTS AND ISSUES
3. THOROUGHNESS AND HONESTY
ALL ARE VICTIMS OF THE MASSIVE AGENDA DRIVEN COMPETITION FOR ECONOMIC OR POLITICAL SUPREMACY. THE DEATH KNELL OF YOUR ETHICS HAS BEEN ENABLED BY YOUR PARENT ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH POLITICAL AGENDAS. WHAT IS CLEAR TO ME IS THAT YOU ARE PERPETUATING THE CORROSIVE PARTISAN POLITICS THAT IS DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY AND KILLING OUR SERVICEMEMBERS WHO ARE AT WAR.
About strategic failures:
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. …
OUR NATIONAL LEADERSHIP IGNORED THE LESSONS OF WWII AS WE ENTERED INTO THIS WAR AND TO THIS DAY CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT VICTORY CAN BE ACHIEVED THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF MILITARY POWER ALONE. OUR FOREFATHERS UNDERSTOOD THAT TREMENDOUS ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CAPACITY HAD TO BE MOBILIZED, SYNCHRONIZED AND APPLIED IF WE WERE TO ACHIEVE VICTORY IN A GLOBAL WAR. THAT HAS BEEN AND CONTINUES TO BE THE KEY TO VICTORY IN IRAQ. CONTINUED MANIPULATIONS AND ADJUSTMENTS TO OUR MILITARY STRATEGY WILL NOT ACHIEVE VICTORY. THE BEST WE CAN DO WITH THIS FLAWED APPROACH IS STAVE OFF DEFEAT. THE ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESS AND THE ENTIRE INTERAGENCY, ESPECIALLY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, MUST SHOULDER THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS CATASTROPHIC FAILURE AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MUST HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.
THERE HAS BEEN A GLARING, UNFORTUNATE, DISPLAY OF INCOMPETENT STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP WITHIN OUR NATIONAL LEADERS. AS A JAPANESE PROVERB SAYS, “ACTION WITHOUT VISION IS A NIGHTMARE.” THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT AMERICA IS LIVING A NIGHTMARE WITH NO END IN SIGHT.
And about the impact of politics on the war effort, General Sanchez said:
SINCE 2003, THE POLITICS OF WAR HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY PARTISANSHIP AS THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTIES STRUGGLED FOR POWER IN WASHINGTON. NATIONAL EFFORTS TO DATE HAVE BEEN CORRUPTED BY PARTISAN POLITICS THAT HAVE PREVENTED US FROM DEVISING EFFECTIVE, EXECUTABLE, SUPPORTABLE SOLUTIONS. AT TIMES, THESE PARTISAN STRUGGLES HAVE LED TO POLITICAL DECISIONS THAT ENDANGERED THE LIVES OF OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS ON THE BATTLEFIELD. THE UNMISTAKABLE MESSAGE WAS THAT POLITICAL POWER HAD GREATER PRIORITY THAN OUR NATIONAL SECURITY OBJECTIVES. OVERCOMING THIS STRATEGIC FAILURE IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD ACHIEVING VICTORY IN IRAQ – WITHOUT BIPARTISAN COOPERATION WE ARE DOOMED TO FAIL. THERE IS NOTHING GOING ON TODAY IN WASHINGTON THAT WOULD GIVE US HOPE.
By cherry-picking pessimistic statements, Miklaszewski and Kube (assisted by AP) turn the General’s criticism of the press and of national disunity into another testament to hopelessness and defeatism. And, with just the most delicate application of a thumb on the scales of interpretation, criticism of the failures of “NSC, Congress, the State Department and the national political leadership” magically turn into “a broad indictment of White House policies and a lack of leadership in the Pentagon to oppose them.” Remarkable, isn’t it?