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 â€œI [viewed this] as a stepâ€¦ intoâ€¦ somethingâ€¦we would regretâ€¦â€ Also, the collapse of the U.S.S.R (the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) â€œâ€¦encouraged the raise of instabilityâ€¦â€ internationally.
â€œThe Islamic worldâ€¦[is] now undergoing a tremendous transitionâ€¦Theyâ€™re trying to observe modernityâ€¦and see [from it] what they can benefitâ€¦butâ€¦[at the same time wonâ€™t] compromise their beliefsâ€¦â€ We should not impose our customs over theirs. We win hearts and minds by understanding the culture of those who could oppose us. â€œThe military is well aware of this now.â€ Serving generals and colonels in Iraq are currently saying there is not a martial solution to this war in the Middle East.
Regarding mediation, â€œIf you donâ€™t have the depths of [cultural] understanding â€¦then youâ€™re less effectiveâ€¦to bring them [the parties]â€¦towardâ€¦resolutionâ€¦â€
The general bluntly alleged, â€œâ€¦the military is not theâ€¦answerâ€¦â€ Regarding World War II, â€œâ€¦the real victory came in reconstructionâ€¦â€ which Bushâ€™s War has utterly failed to do. In Iraq, the military was left to fill in for Bremerâ€™s [the first American Chief Administrator in Baghdadâ€™s] failures. â€œâ€¦[If] we become the instruments of â€¦changeâ€¦[it] may be more than we want our military to doâ€¦â€ Iraq is a bad example, but other instances may be more humanitarian. [Kosovo, for instance.]
The Administration â€œâ€¦began by calling this the War on Terrorism. We declared a war on a tactic. It doesnâ€™t make sense!â€ Thinking at a tactical level makes you fight at that level. Bin Ladenâ€™s strength comes from the support of angry young men. Their fury approaches from the impoverishment within their society. Now, Osamaâ€™s organization is an ideology. â€œIf you donâ€™t get the context â€¦you canâ€™t overcome it!â€
We have not articulated a contemporary strategy to our citizens, and, therefore, we are still in the mentality of the Cold War. â€œThereâ€™s nothingâ€¦in our government that hasâ€¦a long-term perspectiveâ€¦we have failedâ€¦â€ in that.
â€œThe [G.W] Bush Administrationâ€¦[was] misguided by the unilateral approach and theâ€¦military as the lead elementâ€¦In Iraq we had a war planâ€¦than theâ€¦hip-pocket ineffective oneâ€¦the flaw[ed one dominated]â€¦We didnâ€™t have a reconstruction planâ€¦Part of the problem isâ€¦politicsâ€¦and [the] political leadersâ€¦â€ Unfortunately, politics is short-termed. â€œThe first problem of political leadership is politics [itself].â€
â€œâ€¦[Itâ€™s comes] down to the reason [the Iraq War]â€¦[has] reduced our image inâ€¦peopleâ€™s eyesâ€¦Yet, Ourâ€¦purpose isâ€¦[still] to buildâ€¦global institutions!â€
In the Middle East, the General is continually told that we donâ€™t hate Americans, but â€œweâ€¦hate your policies!â€