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another general on iraq (and mercenaries)

The man who commanded US-led coalition forces during the first year of the Iraq war says the United States can forget about winning the war.

“I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will – not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat,” retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said in an interview.

Sanchez, in his first interview since he retired last year, is the highest-ranking former military leader yet to suggest the Bush administration has fallen short in Iraq.

“I am absolutely convinced that America has a crisis in leadership at this time,” Sanchez told AFP after a recent speech in San Antonio, Texas.

(From Agence France Press, via Truthout)

Unprecedented, I am sure. This makes 3 top commanders in Iraq (all retired), saying, essentially, that Bush & Co. are bad news. I bet they’ve all read Yingling’s article, which I wrote about earlier.

And, on a related note, here is a fascinating (and scary) meditation about what happens when a country builds up a mercenary force of combat soldiers, with a little history tour of Rome.

The privatization of war hands an incentive to American corporations, many with tremendous political clout, to keep us mired down in Iraq. But even more disturbing is the steady rise of this modern Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian Guard in ancient Rome was a paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse, and eventually plunged the Roman Republic into tyranny and despotism. Despotic movements need paramilitary forces that operate outside the law, forces that sow fear among potential opponents, and are capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors. And in the wrong hands, a Blackwater could well become that force.

Given that Blackwater, the biggest private security force in Iraq (and likely the world) is run by a hard-core Christian Right man … well, what’s there to worry about?