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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Zinni on Iraq

Brad Delong sent me to this SD Union-Tribune interview with General Zinni. Read it.

Maybe in a day or so I'll have time to comment on his remarks -- though the General's remarks are pretty clear.

Here is some of the best of what he said:
I know the area, I know the people, I know the culture, I know the situation. I knew the intelligence right up until the day of the war and I knew it wasn't there, the threat.

Do you think Saddam had any stocks of banned weapons?

I believe there probably might have been some laying around that he wasn't aware of. They would have been obsolete, even dangerous to move around. There might have been some that were destroyed, there just wasn't proper accounting. But he wasn't even focused on that; they (the U.N. arms inspectors) were. So my belief of what was there was the possible, the potential that you had to plan for, of old stocks, artillery shells, rocket rounds. There was probably about two dozen Scuds (ballistic missiles) that were unaccounted for at the outside that could have possibly been weaponized. But as time went on, these things would have been much more difficult to move, much more difficult to upload. If he possessed those tactical weapons, these things would have had maybe marginal tactical effect on the battlefield in the short term. But certainly nothing of a great threat to the United States. So I really did not think this was a major or imminent or grave and gathering or potential threat.

The worst-kept secret in Washington is that as soon as this administration came in there was talk about taking down Iraq from day one. It's the worst-kept secret in Washington. There were Cabinet meetings where the deputy secretary of defense and others were pushing this. And certainly after 9/11 it was even more intense.

So what they did militarily and politically in Iraq, none of what you recommended happened?

Well, I'll give you my hopeful formula to get out of this. But every day and every decision makes it worse. The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging. They seem to continue to dig. This 'stay the course' idea is wonderful except the course is leading us over Niagara Falls.

What would you recommend doing?

I would go to the members of the Security Council; France, Russia, China and others and ask what will it take to get a U.N. resolution that we need that will give cover, that will give the countries that might be willing to participate at least what they need back home to contribute in some way, to help share the burden on the ground.
Secretary of State, January, 2005?

Zinni, just to refresh everyone's memory, was sent to the Middle East in November 2001 -- by the current Bush administration. He supported Afghanistan.

I think someone needs to assemble all these credible critics (James Webb, Brent Scowcroft, Lawrence Eagleburger, David Kay, and get them to tell the full story on national TV.

Title: Republicans and Generals against the War.

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