General Zinni on Iraq: The Battle for Peace

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–Two months ago from the day of this important public talk below at Berkeley in the form of a Q and A discussion, I find myself finally writing this article down. (The subtitle of this article is the title of his recently published book.) Zinni has become the most critical (former) brass on the Iraq War. As the Commander of Central Command (CENTCOM) from 1997-2000, the retired Marine Corps General was the chief liaison between the American Armed forces and those in the Islamic World.

Concerning the Iraqi Liberation Act that the United States Congress voted in and was signed by our president under pressure of the future corrupt President Chalabi of Mesopotamia before the War, Zinni commented that “I [viewed this] as a step… into… something…we would regret…” Also, the collapse of the U.S.S.R (the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) “…encouraged the raise of instability…” internationally.

“The Islamic world…[is] now undergoing a tremendous transition…They’re trying to observe modernity…and see [from it] what they can benefit…but…[at the same time won’t] compromise their beliefs…” We should not impose our customs over theirs. We win hearts and minds by understanding the culture of those who could oppose us. “The military is well aware of this now.” Serving generals and colonels in Iraq are currently saying there is not a martial solution to this war in the Middle East.

Regarding mediation, “If you don’t have the depths of [cultural] understanding …then you’re less effective…to bring them [the parties]…toward…resolution…”

The general bluntly alleged, “…the military is not the…answer…” Regarding World War II, “…the real victory came in reconstruction…” which Bush’s War has utterly failed to do. In Iraq, the military was left to fill in for Bremer’s [the first American Chief Administrator in Baghdad’s] failures. “…[If] we become the instruments of …change…[it] may be more than we want our military to do…” Iraq is a bad example, but other instances may be more humanitarian. [Kosovo, for instance.]

The Administration “…began by calling this the War on Terrorism. We declared a war on a tactic. It doesn’t make sense!” Thinking at a tactical level makes you fight at that level. Bin Laden’s strength comes from the support of angry young men. Their fury approaches from the impoverishment within their society. Now, Osama’s organization is an ideology. “If you don’t get the context …you can’t overcome it!”

We have not articulated a contemporary strategy to our citizens, and, therefore, we are still in the mentality of the Cold War. “There’s nothing…in our government that has…a long-term perspective…we have failed…” in that.

“The [G.W] Bush Administration…[was] misguided by the unilateral approach and the…military as the lead element…In Iraq we had a war plan…than the…hip-pocket ineffective one…the flaw[ed one dominated]…We didn’t have a reconstruction plan…Part of the problem is…politics…and [the] political leaders…” Unfortunately, politics is short-termed. “The first problem of political leadership is politics [itself].”

“…[It’s comes] down to the reason [the Iraq War]…[has] reduced our image in…people’s eyes…Yet, Our…purpose is…[still] to build…global institutions!”
In the Middle East, the General is continually told that we don’t hate Americans, but “we…hate your policies!”


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