General Recalls Post-War Collapse in Iraq

He also describes strange pep talks from Bush, pushing for aggressive military action.

During the battle of Fallujah in 2004, the president called for Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr to be "wiped out" and launched into a gung-ho speech:

"Kick ass! 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, and 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!"

Sanchez, who has not talked to Rumsfeld since his forced resignation, admits that he made mistakes.

"Probably the first one was that we're not as aggressive at addressing detentions and interrogations … if we had implemented our policies, we probably could have prevented some of the abuses."

His other regrets include underestimating Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and not completing the Fallujah mission.

Despite his criticism of the conduct of the war, Sanchez believes that withdrawal would be a big mistake.

"I think that we have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that we leave when we have stabilized the country," he says. "To advocate precipitous withdrawal is something we could not do … Having a timeline is very premature."

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