This story appeared in the San Antonio Express-News on May 25. I completely missed it. This is what happens in May of odd-numbered years. You say the world is going to hell? Don’t bother me with trivialities. Just tell me whether a budget compromise has been reached, and whether Craddick has the votes to beat the insurgency.

The story is that retired three-star general Ricardo Sanchez, the Texan who commanded American forces in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, said in an interview with the Express-News that America has “a crisis in leadership” and that the best outcome of the Iraq war is a stalemate. Some quotes from the story:

“I am absolutely convinced that America has a crisis in leadership at this time and we’ve got to do whatever we can to help the next generation of leaders do better than we have done over the past five years, better than what this cohort of political and military leaders have done.”

“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. It’s also kind of important for us to answer the question, ‘What is victory?’, and at this point I’m not sure America really knows what victory is.”

“I think our national leadership should have at least mobilized our national will. Over the last 30 years it seems as if it’s been the military’s responsibility to sustain national will when the nation is at war, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the national political leadership’s responsibility as a whole to sustain that will as long as we believe it is the right course for our country.”

Sanchez also told the paper’s military writer, Sig Christenson, that a commitment of at least 100,000 more troops for six or seven years would be needed.

It is mind-boggling how George W. Bush let things get to this point. I keep thinking back to a conversation we had in 1998, during which he expressed reluctance about running for president. “I’m not sure I want to spend the rest of my life in the bubble,” he said. And he proceeded to enclose himself in the tightest bubble any president in my memory has ever had.