[lit-ideas] Re: Zinni's Analysis

  • From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 13:38:59 +0900

Personally, I'd believe Anthony Zinni a lot sooner than I would a=20
right-wing flack like Helprin. Who knows? Maybe I just have too many=20
stars in my eyes.

(CBS)=A0Retired General Anthony Zinni is one of the most respected and=20=

outspoken military leaders of the past two decades.

  =46rom 1997 to 2000, he was commander-in-chief of the United States=20
Central Command, in charge of all American troops in the Middle East.=20
That was the same job held by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf before him, and=20
Gen. Tommy Franks after.

  Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, the Bush=20
administration thought so highly of Zinni that it appointed him to one=20=

of its highest diplomatic posts -- special envoy to the Middle East.

  But Zinni broke ranks with the administration over the war in Iraq,=20
and now, in his harshest criticism yet, he says senior officials at the=20=

Pentagon are guilty of dereliction of duty -- and that the time has=20
come for heads to roll.  Correspondent Steve Kroft reports.
  =93There has been poor strategic thinking in this,=94 says Zinni. =
has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to=20=

think that we are going to =91stay the course,=92 the course is headed =
Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at=20
least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because=20=

it's been a failure.=94

Zinni spent more than 40 years serving his country as a warrior and=20
diplomat, rising from a young lieutenant in Vietnam to four-star=20
general with a reputation for candor.

  Now, in a new book about his career, co-written with Tom Clancy,=20
called "Battle Ready," Zinni has handed up a scathing indictment of the=20=

Pentagon and its conduct of the war in Iraq.

  In the book, Zinni writes: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its=20
later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and=20
irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

=93I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the=20=

ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I=20
think there was dereliction in lack of planning,=94 says Zinni. =93The=20=

president is owed the finest strategic thinking. He is owed the finest=20=

operational planning. He is owed the finest tactical execution on the=20
ground. =85 He got the latter. He didn=92t get the first two.=94

Zinni says Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time - with the wrong=20
strategy. And he was saying it before the U.S. invasion. In the months=20=

leading up to the war, while still Middle East envoy, Zinni carried the=20=

message to Congress: =93This is, in my view, the worst time to take this=20=

on. And I don=92t feel it needs to be done now.=94

  But he wasn=92t the only former military leader with doubts about the=20=

invasion of Iraq. Former General and National Security Advisor Brent=20
Scowcroft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, former NATO=20
Commander Wesley Clark, and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki=20
all voiced their reservations.

Zinni believes this was a war the generals didn=92t want =96 but it was =
war the civilians wanted.

  =93I can't speak for all generals, certainly. But I know we felt that=20=

this situation was contained. Saddam was effectively contained. The=20
no-fly, no-drive zones. The sanctions that were imposed on him,=94 says=20=


  =93Now, at the same time, we had this war on terrorism. We were =
al Qaeda. We were engaged in Afghanistan. We were looking at 'cells' in=20=

60 countries. We were looking at threats that we were receiving=20
information on and intelligence on. And I think most of the generals=20
felt, let's deal with this one at a time. Let's deal with this threat=20
from terrorism, from al Qaeda.=94

One of Zinni's responsibilities while commander-in-chief at Centcom was=20=

to develop a plan for the invasion of Iraq. Like his predecessors, he=20
subscribed to the belief that you only enter battle with overwhelming=20

  But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought the job could be done=20=

with fewer troops and high-tech weapons.

  How many troops did Zinni=92s plan call for? =93We were much in line =
Gen. Shinseki's view,=94 says Zinni. =93We were talking about, you know,=20=

300,000, in that neighborhood.=94

What difference would it have made if 300,000 troops had been sent in,=20=

instead of 180,000?

  =93I think it's critical in the aftermath, if you're gonna go to =
a conflict through the use of force, and then to rebuild the country,=94=20=

says Zinni.

  =93The first requirement is to freeze the situation, is to gain =
of the security. To patrol the streets. To prevent the looting. To=20
prevent the 'revenge' killings that might occur. To prevent bands or=20
gangs or militias that might not have your best interests at heart from=20=

growing or developing.=94
  Last month, Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged that he hadn't anticipated=20=

the level of violence that would continue in Iraq a year after the war=20=

began. Should he have been surprised?

=93He should not have been surprised. You know, there were a number of=20=

people, before we even engaged in this conflict, that felt strongly we=20=

were underestimating the problems and the scope of the problems we=20
would have in there,=94 says Zinni. =93Not just generals, but others --=20=

diplomats, those in the international community that understood the=20
situation. Friends of ours in the region that were cautioning us to be=20=

careful out there. I think he should have known that.=94

  Instead, Zinni says the Pentagon relied on inflated intelligence=20
information about weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles, like=20
Ahmed Chalabi and others, whose credibility was in doubt. Zinni claims=20=

there was no viable plan or strategy in place for governing post-Saddam=20=


=93As best I could see, I saw a pickup team, very small, insufficient in=20=

the Pentagon with no detailed plans that walked onto the battlefield=20
after the major fighting stopped and tried to work it out in the huddle=20=

-- in effect to create a seat-of-the-pants operation on reconstructing=20=

a country,=94 says Zinni.

  =93I give all the credit in the world to Ambassador Bremer as a great=20=

American who's serving his country, I think, with all the kind of=20
sacrifice and spirit you could expect. But he has made mistake after=20
mistake after mistake.=94
  What mistakes?

  =93Disbanding the army,=94 says Zinni. =93De-Baathifying, down to a =
where we removed people that were competent and didn=92t have blood on=20=

their hands that you needed in the aftermath of reconstruction =96=20
alienating certain elements of that society.=94

  Zinni says he blames the Pentagon for what happened. =93I blame the=20
civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were=20
given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything=20=

that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it - certain elements in=20=

there certainly - even to the point of creating their own intelligence=20=

to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility,=94 he=20

  =93But regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has=20=

screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident=20
to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on=20
this? That's what bothers me most.=94

Adds Zinni: =93If you charge me with the responsibility of taking this=20=

nation to war, if you charge me with implementing that policy with=20
creating the strategy which convinces me to go to war, and I fail you,=20=

then I ought to go.=94

  Who specifically is he talking about?

  =93Well, it starts with at the top. If you're the secretary of defense=20=

and you're responsible for that. If you're responsible for that=20
planning and that execution on the ground. If you've assumed=20
responsibility for the other elements, non-military, non-security,=20
political, economic, social and everything else, then you bear=20
responsibility,=94 says Zinni. =93Certainly those in your ranks that=20
foisted this strategy on us that is flawed. Certainly they ought to be=20=

gone and replaced.=94

  Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the=20
administration known as "the neo-conservatives" who saw the invasion of=20=

Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and=20
strengthen the position of Israel. They include Deputy Defense=20
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith;=20
Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security=20
Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney's chief of=20
staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American=20=

policy in Iraq.

  =93I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody -=20=

everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their=20=

agenda was and what they were trying to do,=94 says Zinni.

=93And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who=20
describe themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I=20=

mean, you know, unbelievable that that's the kind of personal attacks=20
that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I=20=

certainly didn't criticize who they were. I certainly don't know what=20
their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I'm not interested.=94

Adds Zinni: =93I know what strategy they promoted. And openly. And for a=20=

number of years. And what they have convinced the president and the=20
secretary to do. And I don't believe there is any serious political=20
leader, military leader, diplomat in Washington that doesn't know where=20=

it came from.=94

Zinni said he believed their strategy was to change the Middle East and=20=

bring it into the 21st century.

  =93All sounds very good, all very noble. The trouble is the way they =
to go about this is unilateral aggressive intervention by the United=20
States - the take down of Iraq as a priority,=94 adds Zinni. =93And what =
have become now in the United States, how we're viewed in this region=20
is not an entity that's promising positive change. We are now being=20
viewed as the modern crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this=20
part of the world.=94
  Should all of those involved, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, =

  =93I believe that they should accept responsibility for that,=94 says=20=

Zinni. =93If I were the commander of a military organization that=20
delivered this kind of performance to the president, I certainly would=20=

tender my resignation. I certainly would expect to be gone.=94

=93You say we need to change course -- that the current course is taking=20=

us over Niagara Falls. What course do you think ought to be set,=94 =
asked Zinni.

  =93Well, it's been evident from the beginning what the course is. We=20=

should have gotten this U.N. resolution from the beginning. What does=20
it take to sit down with the members of the Security Council, the=20
permanent members, and find out what it takes,=94 says Zinni.

  =93What is it they want to get this resolution? Do they want a say in=20=

political reconstruction? Do they want a piece of the pie economically?=20=

If that's the cost, fine. What they=92re gonna pay for up front is boots=20=

on the ground and involvement in sharing the burden.=94

Are there enough troops in Iraq now?

  =93Do I think there are other missions that should be taken on which=20=

would cause the number of troops to go up, not just U.S., but=20
international participants? Yes,=94 says Zinni.

  =93We should be sealing off the borders, we should be protecting the=20=

road networks. We're not only asking for combat troops, we=92re looking=20=

for trainers; we=92re looking for engineers. We are looking for those =
can provide services in there.=94

But has the time come to develop an exit strategy?

  =93There is a limit. I think it=92s important to understand what the =
is. Now do I think we are there yet? No, it is salvageable if you can=20
convince the Iraqis that what we're trying to do is in their benefit in=20=

the long run,=94 says Zinni.

  =93Unless we change our communication and demonstrate a different =
to the people on the street, then we're gonna get to the point where we=20=

are going to be looking for quick exits. I don't believe we're there=20
now. And I wouldn't want to see us fail here.=94
  Zinni, who now teaches international relations at the College of=20
William and Mary, says he feels a responsibility to speak out, just as=20=

former Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup voiced early concerns about=20=

the Vietnam war nearly 40 years ago.

  =93It is part of your duty. Look, there is one statement that bothers =
more than anything else. And that's the idea that when the troops are=20
in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat=20=

with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning, and troops were=20=

dying as a result,=94 says Zinni.

  =93I can't think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not =
up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy=20
that's getting just as many troops killed? It=92s leading down a path=20
where we're not succeeding and accomplishing the missions we've set out=20=

to do.=94

  60 Minutes asked Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz to=20
respond to Zinni's remarks. The request for an interview was declined.

John L. McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd.
55-13-202 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama, Japan 220-0006

Tel 81-45-314-9324
Email mccreery@xxxxxxx

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