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The war in Iraq: General Zinni's Comments

Margaret Mackenzie forwards a long article, "For Vietnam Vet Anthony Zinni, Another War on Shaky Territory", by Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post╩ (12/23/03).╩ Here is an excerpt: " Anthony C. Zinni's opposition to U.S. policy on Iraq began on the monsoon-ridden afternoon of Nov. 3, 1970. He was lying on a Vietnamese mountainside west of Da Nang, three rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle in his side and back. He could feel his lifeblood seeping into the ground as he slipped in and out of consciousness.╩ He had plenty of time to think in the following months while╩ recuperating in a military hospital in Hawaii. Among other things, he promised himself that, "If I'm ever in a position to say what I think is right, I will. . . . I don't care what happens to my career."

That time has arrived.╩ Over the past year, the retired Marine Corps general has become one of the most prominent opponents of Bush administration policy on Iraq, which he now fears is drifting toward disaster.╩ It is one of the more unusual political journeys to come out of the American experience with Iraq. Zinni still talks like an old-school > Marine -- a big-shouldered, weight-lifting, working-class Philadelphian whose father emigrated from Italy's Abruzzi region, and who is fond of quoting the wisdom of his fictitious "Uncle Guido, the plumber." Yet he finds himself in the unaccustomed role of rallying the antiwar camp, attacking the policies of the president and commander in chief whom he had endorsed in the 2000 election.

Three years ago, Zinni completed a tour as chief of the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East, during which he oversaw enforcement of the two "no-fly" zones in Iraq and also conducted four days of punishing airstrikes against that country in 1998. He even served briefly as a special envoy to the Middle East, mainly as a favor to his old friend and comrade Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.╩ Zinni long has worried that there are worse outcomes possible in Iraq than having Saddam Hussein in power -- such as eliminating him in such a way that Iraq will become a new haven for terrorism in the Middle East.╩ "I think a weakened, fragmented, chaotic Iraq, which could happen if╩ this isn't done carefully, is more dangerous in the long run than a contained Saddam is now," he told reporters in 1998. "I don't think these questions have been thought through or answered." It was a╩ warning for which Iraq hawks such as Paul D. Wolfowitz, then an╩ academic and now the No. 2 official at the Pentagon, attacked him in print at the time.

Anthony Zinni's passage from obedient general to outspoken opponent began in earnest in the unlikeliest of locations, the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was there in Nashville in August 2002 to receive the group's Dwight D. Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award, recognition for his 35 years in the╩ Marine Corps. Vice President Cheney was also there, delivering a speech on foreign policy. Sitting on the stage behind the vice president, Zinni grew increasingly puzzled. He had endorsed Bush and Cheney two years earlier, just after he retired from his last military post, as chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq.╩ "I think he ran on a moderate ticket, and that's my leaning -- I'm╩ kind of a Lugar-Hagel-Powell guy," he says, listing three Republicans associated with centrist foreign policy positions.╩╩ He was alarmed that day to hear Cheney make the argument for attacking Iraq on grounds that Zinni found questionable at best"

Paul Wolfowitz an academic? He obtained his MA and Ph.D in political science at the University of Chicago under Leo Strauss, the father of the Neo-Cons.╩ He was an assistant professor at Yale before moving into government service in Washington.╩ He was a visiting associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, but it is misleading to call him an academic; he is essentially a government official.

The US in in Iraq. What does Marine General Zinni think it should do?╩ Pull out, as in Vietnam?╩ What does Marine General Mike Sullivan think of all this?

Ronald Hilton - 01.25.04