The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Former general in charge of Iraq talks at SMU

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq, spoke for the first time since his Nov. 2 retirement on SMU’s campus Thursday night.

The general spoke in the Jones Hall of the Meadows Museum as part of the Annette Strauss Internationalizing Lecture.

Although his lecture was off the record for media, Sanchez agreed to an interview with The Daily Campus afterward.

Sanchez said he chose SMU as the first place to speak after his retirement because of the educational potential.

“One of the things I’m focused on is educating future leaders,” he said. “A university environment is exactly the right place to talk.”

He added that he wanted to correct some of the common misperceptions Americans have about the war in Iraq.

The most common one, he said, is “probably that there’s a military solution, that we can solve the problem by adding more forces.”

“That couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he said, adding that the U.S. needed to use more fully its capacities as a nation.

“Our resources have to be applied,” he said.

His comments come after Gen. John P. Abizaid said Wednesday that the U.S. position in Iraq was undermined by the Bush administration’s decision not to employ more troops in 2003. Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, commented that the intelligence post in Baghdad is seeing a worsening, chaotic state of affairs there.

According to Sanchez, who was in charge of the Army during the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the bill President Bush signed into law last month pertaining to interrogation techniques was overdue.

“This was the guidance that should’ve been issued in 2002,” he said. “Our leaders have been negligent about sending in soldiers without training.”

The law, which was signed Oct. 16, disallows rape, torture and “cruel and inhuman” treatment, but doesn’t provide the accused with legal counsel and bars detainees from filing habeus corpus petitions challenging the legality of their imprisonment.

And according to a story run Tuesday by The Associated Press, Sanchez is one of 13 officials being sued in a German criminal court for war crimes committed at Abu Ghraib.

The 220-page lawsuit was filed under a German law that permits prosecution of war crimes regardless of the country in which they were committed. Prosecutors said they wanted to increase pressure on higher-ups they say are at fault.

In a presentation in Berlin, former U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski said low-ranking soldiers were hung out to dry “while people who are far more culpable and responsible have walked away blameless,” reported the AP.

As for former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sanchez said he thought the decision was a strategic move.

“That was a political decision to eliminate a source of controversy,” he said.

Senior Clare Taylor, who was one of the dozen or so students in attendance, thought there was a certain level of antagonism in Sanchez’s presentation.

“I got the impression that he was fairly critical of some of the directives coming out of Washington,” she said.

The international studies major added that she learned about Iraq from a military angle.

“You hear a lot about the political perspective in this country, but not much about the logistics,” she said. “It’s just become such a political issue… few people look at the situation we’re in, the troop levels, and what the challenges are.”

Junior Aisha U-Kiu, a political science major, she says she came to the lecture because “Iraq is an area of interest for me.”

U-Kiu said she “definitely learned a lot,” but that she was disappointed by some of Sanchez’s answers during the question and answer portion.

“I felt like there was a lot of the blame game, a lot of pointing fingers,” she said.

Senior Tyler Fields said he was impressed by the presentation.

“I don’t think the full impact of his talk has actually hit me yet – it probably won’t until I read up more on it,” he said.

“Our country hasn’t accepted that we’re at war,” he added. “I don’t think our generation knows how to respond to war – we expect for it not to affect us. We’re the complete opposite … [of] the World War II generation.

-Austin Kilgore contributed to this story.

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