Having Gen. Sanchez’s back

If you’re against the war and the Bush Administration, you should try to say nice things about Gen. Sanchez.

I’m not qualified to judge the performance of Lt. Gen. Sanchez in Iraq, or his degree of responsibility for the catastrophic outcome there. But those committed to ending our national nightmare in Iraq, and the larger national nightmare of rule by the plutocrat/theocrat/imperialist coalition of which the Republican leadership in Congress and all of the major Republican Presidential candidates are either members or servants, ought to avoid joining in the slime-and-defend campaign certain to be launched against him after his blistering attack on the Bush Administration.

I’m not one who regrets the “hack gap.” I’d rather be on the side with the edge in intellectual honesty rather than the side with the edge in the tactical capacity to misrepresent the truth. But in politics, words are weapons, and if for the moment Gen. Sanchez has chosen, at some personal risk, to take our side, we ought to do what we can to reward that behavior rather than punishing it.

Whatever honestly can be said in Gen. Sanchez’s praise ought to be said now, and criticism of him ought to be suspended, if only as a matter of incentives management. As Churchill said about his own praise of Stalin after Barbarossa, “If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com