Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the onetime commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, in his new book, shares an anecdote about the president that probably won’t surprise anyone, but is nevertheless discomforting.
Among the anecdotes in “Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story” is an arresting portrait of Bush after four contractors were killed in Fallujah in 2004, triggering a fierce U.S. response that was reportedly egged on by the president.
During a videoconference with his national security team and generals, Sanchez writes, Bush launched into what he described as a “confused” pep talk:
“Kick ass!” he quotes the president as saying. “If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.”
“There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”
The White House had no comment when asked about Sanchez’s anecdote. I can’t say I’m surprised — how does one respond to presidential remarks like these?
Melissa McEwan added, “I wonder if they were actually on the phone with Bush, or if he was off riding his bike, leaving behind a lackey to pull the string on the back of the slogan-chanting Bush action figure.”