T Nation

Marine General Fires off against Bush

General Anthony Zinni, the former Marine General who was the Commander in Chief of the US Central Command has issued a scathing indictment of the current administration and their plans for war in Iraq. So highly regarded is Zinni that the Secretary of Defense of his assistants can’t even respond.

Let’s see: Zinni, Tommy Franks, Norman Schwarzkopf, Wesley Clark, Eric Shinseki. All stated before and after the start of the conflict that they had serious reservations about the wisdom of doing this. But, hey, what do they know? They’re just generals with over a century and a half of service in our armed forces between them. Or as Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, et al (who have zero years in the military between them) might call them, ‘just grunts’. I’m not sure what bothers me most: that the current administration sacked military leaders that didn’t agree with it, or that we have yes-men making us look even more stupid in charge of situations in Iraq (witness the wedding carnage and subsequent video, and the denial of General Kimmet and continued excuses for bad planning and bad execution). We have gone from having one of the noblest and best fighting forces in the world to looking just plain bad in the eyes of the world and of our own country.

[quote]
from www.cbsnews.com:
Gen. Zinni: ‘They’ve Screwed Up’
May 21, 2004

Retired General Anthony Zinni is one of the most respected and outspoken military leaders of the past two decades.

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

Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, the Bush administration thought so highly of Zinni that it appointed him to one of its highest diplomatic posts – special envoy to the Middle East.

But Zinni broke ranks with the administration over the war in Iraq, and now, in his harshest criticism yet, he says senior officials at the Pentagon are guilty of dereliction of duty – and that the time has come for heads to roll. Correspondent Steve Kroft reports.
?There has been poor strategic thinking in this,? says Zinni. ?There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ?stay the course,? the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it’s time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it’s been a failure.?

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

Now, in a new book about his career, co-written with Tom Clancy, called “Battle Ready,” Zinni has handed up a scathing indictment of the Pentagon and its conduct of the war in Iraq.

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

?I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning,? says Zinni. ?The president is owed the finest strategic thinking. He is owed the finest operational planning. He is owed the finest tactical execution on the ground. ? He got the latter. He didn?t get the first two.?

Zinni says Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time - with the wrong strategy. And he was saying it before the U.S. invasion. In the months leading up to the war, while still Middle East envoy, Zinni carried the message to Congress: ?This is, in my view, the worst time to take this on. And I don?t feel it needs to be done now.?

But he wasn?t the only former military leader with doubts about the invasion of Iraq. Former General and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki all voiced their reservations.

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

?I can’t speak for all generals, certainly. But I know we felt that this situation was contained. Saddam was effectively contained. The no-fly, no-drive zones. The sanctions that were imposed on him,? says Zinni.

?Now, at the same time, we had this war on terrorism. We were fighting al Qaeda. We were engaged in Afghanistan. We were looking at ‘cells’ in 60 countries. We were looking at threats that we were receiving information on and intelligence on. And I think most of the generals felt, let’s deal with this one at a time. Let’s deal with this threat from terrorism, from al Qaeda.?

One of Zinni’s responsibilities while commander-in-chief at Centcom was to develop a plan for the invasion of Iraq. Like his predecessors, he subscribed to the belief that you only enter battle with overwhelming force.

But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought the job could be done with fewer troops and high-tech weapons.

How many troops did Zinni?s plan call for? ?We were much in line with Gen. Shinseki’s view,? says Zinni. ?We were talking about, you know, 300,000, in that neighborhood.?

What difference would it have made if 300,000 troops had been sent in, instead of 180,000?

?I think it’s critical in the aftermath, if you’re gonna go to resolve a conflict through the use of force, and then to rebuild the country,? says Zinni.

?The first requirement is to freeze the situation, is to gain control of the security. To patrol the streets. To prevent the looting. To prevent the ‘revenge’ killings that might occur. To prevent bands or gangs or militias that might not have your best interests at heart from growing or developing.?
Last month, Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged that he hadn’t anticipated the level of violence that would continue in Iraq a year after the war began. Should he have been surprised?

?He should not have been surprised. You know, there were a number of people, before we even engaged in this conflict, that felt strongly we were underestimating the problems and the scope of the problems we would have in there,? says Zinni. ?Not just generals, but others – diplomats, those in the international community that understood the situation. Friends of ours in the region that were cautioning us to be careful out there. I think he should have known that.?

Instead, Zinni says the Pentagon relied on inflated intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles, like Ahmed Chalabi and others, whose credibility was in doubt. Zinni claims there was no viable plan or strategy in place for governing post-Saddam Iraq.

?As best I could see, I saw a pickup team, very small, insufficient in the Pentagon with no detailed plans that walked onto the battlefield after the major fighting stopped and tried to work it out in the huddle – in effect to create a seat-of-the-pants operation on reconstructing a country,? says Zinni.

?I give all the credit in the world to Ambassador Bremer as a great American who’s serving his country, I think, with all the kind of sacrifice and spirit you could expect. But he has made mistake after mistake after mistake.?
What mistakes?

?Disbanding the army,? says Zinni. ?De-Baathifying, down to a level where we removed people that were competent and didn?t have blood on their hands that you needed in the aftermath of reconstruction ? alienating certain elements of that society.?

Zinni says he blames the Pentagon for what happened. ?I blame the civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it - certain elements in there certainly - even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility,? he says.

?But regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they’ve screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this? That’s what bothers me most.?

Adds Zinni: ?If you charge me with the responsibility of taking this nation to war, if you charge me with implementing that policy with creating the strategy which convinces me to go to war, and I fail you, then I ought to go.?

Who specifically is he talking about?

?Well, it starts with at the top. If you’re the secretary of defense and you’re responsible for that. If you’re responsible for that planning and that execution on the ground. If you’ve assumed responsibility for the other elements, non-military, non-security, political, economic, social and everything else, then you bear responsibility,? says Zinni. ?Certainly those in your ranks that foisted this strategy on us that is flawed. Certainly they ought to be gone and replaced.?

Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration known as “the neo-conservatives” who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel. They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq.

?I think it’s the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody - everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,? says Zinni.

?And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who describe themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I mean, you know, unbelievable that that’s the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I certainly didn’t criticize who they were. I certainly don’t know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I’m not interested.?

Adds Zinni: ?I know what strategy they promoted. And openly. And for a number of years. And what they have convinced the president and the secretary to do. And I don’t believe there is any serious political leader, military leader, diplomat in Washington that doesn’t know where it came from.?

Zinni said he believed their strategy was to change the Middle East and bring it into the 21st century.

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

?I believe that they should accept responsibility for that,? says Zinni. ?If I were the commander of a military organization that delivered this kind of performance to the president, I certainly would tender my resignation. I certainly would expect to be gone.?

?You say we need to change course – that the current course is taking us over Niagara Falls. What course do you think ought to be set,? Kroft asked Zinni.

?Well, it’s been evident from the beginning what the course is. We should have gotten this U.N. resolution from the beginning. What does it take to sit down with the members of the Security Council, the permanent members, and find out what it takes,? says Zinni.

?What is it they want to get this resolution? Do they want a say in political reconstruction? Do they want a piece of the pie economically? If that’s the cost, fine. What they?re gonna pay for up front is boots on the ground and involvement in sharing the burden.?

Are there enough troops in Iraq now?

?Do I think there are other missions that should be taken on which would cause the number of troops to go up, not just U.S., but international participants? Yes,? says Zinni.

?We should be sealing off the borders, we should be protecting the road networks. We’re not only asking for combat troops, we?re looking for trainers; we?re looking for engineers. We are looking for those who can provide services in there.?

But has the time come to develop an exit strategy?

?There is a limit. I think it?s important to understand what the limit is. Now do I think we are there yet? No, it is salvageable if you can convince the Iraqis that what we’re trying to do is in their benefit in the long run,? says Zinni.

?Unless we change our communication and demonstrate a different image to the people on the street, then we’re gonna get to the point where we are going to be looking for quick exits. I don’t believe we’re there now. And I wouldn’t want to see us fail here.?
Zinni, who now teaches international relations at the College of William and Mary, says he feels a responsibility to speak out, just as former Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup voiced early concerns about the Vietnam war nearly 40 years ago.

?It is part of your duty. Look, there is one statement that bothers me more than anything else. And that’s the idea that when the troops are in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning, and troops were dying as a result,? says Zinni.

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

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

[quote]

pretty well spoken man, i agree with his statements, and shinseki’s opinion that this occupation would require more troops than were sent in, but what did the wedding carnage have to do with this? Either way, the choice for war was made, the most barbaric choice available to a civilization, and these situations occur during a war, even the most noble of them.

C’mon Roy,
You know there must be something terribly wrong with this Marine General. He is obvioulsy not qualified to make those kind of assertions. He must have some gripe with President, no promotion or something! We need to get a real officers opinion on the matter, PtrDy, Montrose? These guys have been through OTS! Oh wait, so has the General! J/K guys couldn’t resist the sarcasm.

Actually, I would like the opinions of Ptrdr and montrose on this, since they hang so much of their credibility for defending the prez on their military rank and their sacrifice. Does this marine corp general have credibility to them?

So all the dying is because of neocons lust?..lust for what?..war?..the war was brought down on us. I really have to believe you HATE this country and would love to see it come down…either that or your view of war and peace and the things we have to do to ensure it is SO myopic!
Ive said it once …and I will again…THANK GOD THE U.S WILL NOT DEPEND ON PEOPLE LIKE YOU DO KEEP US SAFE…people like you scare the shit out of me; yet I will die for your right to your stupid opinions.

PtrDr, bro I hate to bring you in to this again, but I pretty much stated many of the points this Marine Corp General pointed out. Do you think General Zinni hates his country? Does he scare the shit out of you? Are his, stupid opinions? I do respect you bro, but who do you think is more qualified to see what is what, an 0-2 or 0-3, or a General?

[quote]So all the dying is because of neocons lust?..lust for what?..war?..the war was brought down on us. I really have to believe you HATE this country and would love to see it come down…either that or your view of war and peace and the things we have to do to ensure it is SO myopic!
Ive said it once …and I will again…THANK GOD THE U.S WILL NOT DEPEND ON PEOPLE LIKE YOU DO KEEP US SAFE…people like you scare the shit out of me; yet I will die for your right to your stupid opinions.[/quote]

Elk, pretty funny shit! Pretty accurate too. Actually there was one small error. You will rarely hear a Bush supporter use the word “myopic”… To pedantic (oops, there’s another one). Jeez, now I am sounding like a over-educated liberal elitist!

I may be liberal, but I guess I’m not elite because to be honest I don’t have my dictionary with me and I don’t know what myopic or pedantic means!
Okay, I am off to google up a Websters!
Too all liberal and conservative alike, I bid a fond farewell for now!

Where did the Bush nut-huggers go?

Zinni, Schwartzkopf, Clark, Shinseki - all generals who have criticized the manner in which this Iraq disaster has been handled.

But what do they know?!! They are not true war heroes such as Bush, Mr. 5 deferment Cheney, Wolfowitz et al.

You gotta admit though that their faith-based fact-free foreign policy is a cracker jack idea.

Oh, now an education makes one an elitist?

Oops, sorry to hear that, that would make some of our beloved T-Mag article writers elitist as plenty of them have PhD’s or other fancy stuff after their names.

The fact that some people are educated and use their brains for more than a doorstop doesn’t make them elitist. If you can’t comprehend their comments consider learning to read.

Donald Rumsfeld said he had no idea if the war in Iraq was creating more terrorists than it kills.

Ptrdr keeps saying that the war in Iraq is winning the war on terrorism, so this article is for him. This article says that the Iraq invasion has boosted worldwide recruitment for Al Qaeda:

Report: al-Qaida Ranks Swelling Worldwide

Tue May 25, 4:15 PM ET
By BARRY RENFREW, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - Far from being crippled by the U.S.-led war on terror, al-Qaida has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks, a report said Tuesday.

Al-Qaida is probably working on plans for major attacks on the United States and Europe, and it may be seeking weapons of mass destruction in its desire to inflict as many casualties as possible, the International Institute of Strategic Studies said in its annual survey of world affairs.

Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s network appears to be operating in more than 60 nations, often in concert with local allies, the study by the independent think tank said.

Although about half of al-Qaida’s top 30 leaders have been killed or captured, it has an effective leadership, with bin Laden apparently still playing a key role, it said.

“Al-Qaida must be expected to keep trying to develop more promising plans for terrorist operations in North America and Europe, potentially involving weapons of mass destruction,” IISS director Dr. John Chipman told a press conference releasing “Strategic Survey 2003/4.”

At the same time it will likely continue attacking “soft targets encompassing Americans, Europeans and Israelis, and aiding the insurgency in Iraq,” he added.

The report suggested that the two military centerpieces of the U.S.-led war on terror the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may have boosted al-Qaida.

Driving the terror network out of Afghanistan in late 2001 appears to have benefited the group, which dispersed to many countries, making it almost invisible and hard to combat, the story said.

And the Iraq conflict “has arguably focused the energies and resources of al-Qaida and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition that appeared so formidable” after the Afghan intervention, the survey said.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq brought al-Qaida recruits from across Islamic nations, the study said. Up to 1,000 foreign Islamic fighters have infiltrated Iraqi territory, where they are cooperating with Iraqi insurgents, the survey said.

Efforts to defeat al-Qaida will take time and might accelerate only if there are political developments that now seem elusive, such as the democratization of Iraq and the resolution of conflict in Israel, it said.

It could take up to 500,000 U.S. and allied troops to effectively police Iraq and restore political stability, IISS researcher Christopher Langton told the news conference.

Such a figure appeared impossible to meet, given political disquiet in the United States and Britain and the unwillingness of other nations to send troops, he said.

The United States is al-Qaida’s prime target in a war it sees as a death struggle between civilizations, the report said. An al-Qaida leader has said 4 million Americans will have to be killed “as a prerequisite to any Islamic victory,” the survey said.

“Al-Qaida’s complaints have been transformed into religious absolutes and cannot be satisfied through political compromise,” the study said.

The IISS said its estimate of 18,000 al-Qaida fighters was based on intelligence estimates that the group trained at least 20,000 fighters in its camps in Afghanistan before the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban regime. In the ensuing war on terror, some 2,000 al-Qaida fighters have been killed or captured, the survey said.

Al-Qaida appears to have successfully reconstituted its operations by dispersing its forces into small groups and through working with local allies, such as the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front in Turkey, the report said.

“Al-Qaida is the common ideological and logistical hub for disparate local affiliates, and bin Laden’s charisma, presumed survival and elusiveness enhance the organization’s iconic drawing power,” it said.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=6&u=/ap/20040525/ap_on_re_eu/al_qaida_6

Vroom, my dear friend if you are referreing to my elitist comment… it was sarcasm!

Actually education in america does make one elite, on a global level. But thats besides the point.

The general has some seemingly good points. There has been some bad planning. And some mis-management.
That doesn’t mean all is lost and it was the wrong thing to do.
There is a TON more that we have done right for Iraq though! Its not getting reported appropriately; except maybe on FOX news.
We have to make the best of whats left and finish the job.
Appeasement is NOT an option.
The general is certainly more educated that myself or Montrosefan. But…he also has a political agenda. And EVEN HE is not above his biases!

“except maybe on Fox news” – ??

wtf??

Elkster, no, I do believe someone else made the claim before yourself, though it may have been sarcasm too.

Anyhow, to poke fun at a different point…

What? People might have biases? Deep ba deep deep ba deep deep… new study finds bias in personal opinion… news at 11.

Vroom my brother, understood, understood!
and about biases don’t you know Bush and company base none of their decisions on Biases!
Their decisions are made for the good of the common man!

Malonetd
The Fox news comment caught me off guard too!

Ptrdr said
“The general has some seemingly good points. There has been some bad planning. And some mis-management.
That doesn’t mean all is lost and it was the wrong thing to do.”

Before the war, General Zinni testified that this war was ill-advised, that it was the wrong war at the wrong time, as did a bunch of other generals.

This was not a war of necessity, it was a war of choice by Team Bush. And once the choice to invade was made, Team Bush disregarded the advice from the military, and went with the advice of civilian planners in the Penatgon instead, because the civilian’s plans would play better with voters (smaller troop numbers, etc). The administration made a whole lot of bad decisions and wrong choices, and here we are a year later on the brink of chaos, because they tried to do it cheap and easy.

To the person who said that ‘all the good things are going unreported’ that’s because Iraq is too dangerous for journalists to leave the US compound. It’s not safe or stable there.

Elk and malonetd…are you guys naturally slow witted?
Maybe you guys are to get your arses to the gym and clear your head! Ive never seen one of you guys post a photo. Who knows if you even have a gym life!

Of the big 3-4 media giants; Fox is the only one that prints the good…bad and ugly. The rest just focus on the bad.
Unless that is you are interested in watching Larry King ask the latest celeb what he ate for dinner last night.

PtrDr
I have not even been working out consistenly lately, but I will still bench 250 for reps, easily squat 400 for reps and so on! I don’t have any recent picks, but there are a couple of other posters on this forum who can attest to this as they have seen me!

Yes, I did see your picture in your crisp AirForce blues, but one question Fox news balanced? Did you drop the dumbells on your head?


PtrDR,

What are you talking about? A picture on the internet means nothing. I could post any kind of picture and you wouldn’t know the difference. But since you asked, there I am:

And, oh yeah, the 3 or 4 media giants are great place to get unbiased news, NOT! You ever hear of newspaper(only slightly better, but at least they have editorials), or how about the internet.

Fox news my ass!