Monday, September 15, 2003

Sanchez called the shooting of the Iraqi officers a "tragic event" of a kind that is often unavoidable in wartime. He also asked for continued support and patience from the American people.

"Something that needs to be communicated across all of America ... is that America's sons and daughters are doing a fabulous job here," he said. "The sacrifices that we're making are not in vain -- they are truly making an impact on this country."

..."We've got to realize that this is a critical battlefield for America itself. This is where we have to win," he said. "... I am absolutely convinced that if we don't win here, the next battleground will be the streets of America. We can't allow that to happen."...

Some critics see a new Vietnam starting up in Iraq, but Sanchez rejects the parallel. His troops are facing not a guerrilla war, he said, but "a low-intensity conflict environment" that a single battalion could handle militarily.

What he needs most, he said, is "actionable intelligence ... that will allow us to strike at these cells and these terrorists that are out there."

For a guerrilla war to succeed, he said, it must possess two things: a unifying ideology and popular support. So far, he insists, he does not see either in Iraq.

Restoring Saddam and his Baathist Party to power does not constitute a winning ideology, he said: "You do not see people demonstrating to bring back the Saddam Hussein regime."

And neither, he said, does militant Islam.

"Yeah there are some fundamentalists, religious fundamentalists, who are out there. But there are a lot of counterbalancing elements of the society," he said.

"This is not a fundamentalist society that exists here in Iraq. It's fairly advanced, and I don't believe there is a fundamentalist majority here at this point in time."

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