General Zinni on Iraq

Anthony Zinni co-authored Battle Ready with Tom Clancy and served in the Marines from the 1960’s to 2000. From 1997 to 2000, General Zinni was Commander in Chief of CENTCOM. Zinni is also a conservative Republican. Given his expertise, one would have thought President Bush would have heeded Zinni’s counsel not to invade Iraq.

Zinni appeared on Meet The Press right after Senator McCain’s appearance. Contrast the spin from McCain to this straight talk from Zinni:

Well, I—first of all, I saw it in the way the intelligence was being portrayed. I knew the intelligence; I saw it right up to the day of the war. I was asked at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing a month before the war if I thought the threat was imminent. I didn’t. Many of the people I know that were involved in the intelligence side of this, or, or in the military felt the same way. I saw the—what this town is known for: spin, cherry-picking facts, using metaphors to evoke certain emotional responses, or, or shading the, the context. We, we know the mushroom clouds and, and the other things that were all described that the media’s covered well. I saw on the ground, though, a sort of walking away from 10 years worth of planning. You know, ever since the end of the first Gulf War, there have been—there’s been planning by serious officers and planners and others, and policies put in place. Ten years worth of planning, you know, were thrown away; troop levels dismissed out of hand; General Shinseki basically insulted for speaking the truth and giving a, an honest opinion; the lack of cohesive approach to how we deal with the aftermath; the political, economic, social reconstruction of a nation, which is no small task; a belief in these exiles that anyone in the region, anyone that had any knowledge would tell you were not credible on the ground; and on and on and on. Decisions to disband the army that were not in the initial plans. I mean there’s a series of disastrous mistakes. We just heard the secretary of state say these were tactical mistakes. These were not tactical mistakes. These were strategic mistakes, mistakes of policy made back here. Don’t blame the troops. They’re the ones that perform the tactics on the ground. They’ve been magnificent. If anything saves this, it will be them.