Of Macedonia and Mesopotamia
Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez opens his new autobiography Wiser in Battle with a note of defiance, quoting Lucius Aemilius Paulus's address to the Roman Senate in 169 B.C.:
In every circle, at every table, you will find someone to lead the Army in Macedonia, who knows where the camp should be made, what port held by the territory is best entered, where magazines should be established, how provisions moved; by land or sea, where the enemy should be engaged, and when to hold back. And these people not only tell us how the campaign should be conducted, but what is wrong with the actual campaign, accusing the Consul as though he were on trial . . . If therefore, anyone thinks himself qualified to give me advice, let him come with me to Macedonia.
Sounds an awful lot like Theodore Roosevelt's famous "man in the arena" speech. Clearly, Sanchez still bristles at the way that senior Pentagon officials used an "8,000 mile screwdriver" to tinker with his operations in Iraq. And he harbors disdain for the many critics of his generalship.
I haven't been to Macedonia yet, but I have been to Mesopotamia. And while I understand the sentiment Sanchez feels -- the visceral rejection of criticism from those who haven't been there -- I think his instincts are wrong. You don't need to be an Iraq veteran to understand our missteps there.
Over the next several days, I plan to post running commentary on the book as I read through it, examining Sanchez's stories and their larger implications. So with that, let's explore the rest of the book.
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