Tuesday, April 4. 2006
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Quotes on Tuesday, April 4. 2006
In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption.Former CENTCOM commander retired General Tony Zinni specified these charges at Meet the Press:
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.Meet the Press transcript and video. Clip with above quote at Crooks and Liars.
Iraq: Polling, Reporting, Planning, and Learning
• Polls: The public diplomacy blog Eccentric Star quotes an AP report about Iraqi views of their country's future, including this: About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their governmen
Weblog: Atlantic Review
Tracked: Oct 08, 14:08
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Olaf Petersen - #1 - 2006-04-04 11:29 -
High times to talk about the thousand mistakes, Condoleezza Rice knows of, high times to talk about wrong analysis, assessments and expectations. Never before have the United States been so dependant on the good will and peaceful intentions of - The Islamic Republic of Iran. One word from Teheran and Iraq is burning. But the USA haven't accomplished creating a shiite army in Iraq yet so it might not wonder the Mullahs in Teheran decide to stay on the sidelines some weeks longer. Or months. Who knows? No security - no democracy. No times for dreams.
Clarence - #2 - 2006-04-04 12:04 -
Zinni stated "I knew the intelligence; I saw it right up to the day of the war." In fact, he retired in Sept 2000 (per his own website, www.generalzinni.com), so what is the source of his "intelligence"?
Franz Hoffmann - #3 - 2006-04-04 13:01 -
clarence - #4 - 2006-04-04 14:53 -
Jorg, You write "Zinni knew the military plans..." Please provide any evidence (aside from Zinni's own assertions) that he could have known those plans two years after he retired. He claims to have done "consulting" for the CIA. So? Even the DCIA does not have access to the Pentagon's war plans...except on request. There is no war that cannot be justly criticized for political, strategic and tactical errors....often by ex-generals with political or commercial ambitions.
Jorg - #4.1 - 2006-04-04 15:22 -
Zinni and I refer to the military plans made in the 90s. Zinni was in charge of CENTCOM till 2000. "There is no war that cannot be justly criticized for political, strategic and tactical errors...." Sure! Why do you criticize Zinni then? Re your last sentence: Do you doubt General Zinni's integrity and patriotism? Those who defend the Iraq war might have political and commercial interests as well or they just don't want to lose their job. You don't have any other criticism of this post or General Zinni?
clarence - #5 - 2006-04-04 15:52 -
Jorg, You continue to avoid responding to my very simple point: Zinni can not know what you described as "the military plans" after he retired. Retired generals do not have access to that information...nor as mentioned would even the DCIA much less a consultant. Whatever "plans" existed in the 1990s, Zinni cannot know what was changed, or when, or upon whose recommendation or direction, after Sept. 2000. Therefore, he (and you) simply do not have any facts to justify your criticism of Rumsfeld et al. Zinni's opinion of things that he did not observe is simply hearsay, and of no value...except to support your political bias.
Fuchur - #5.1 - 2006-04-04 20:36 -
Jorg - #6 - 2006-04-04 16:52 -
Let me try one last time. I have quoted Zinni im my post. Please read carefully. Or read the entire transcript or watch the video. "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;" Zinni was head of CENTCOM in the 90s, i.e. he is a credible source of info with access to all intel. I believe him, when he says that the military planned a war against Iraq in the 90s and that ten years worth of planning were thrown away. He says he did not see the plans from the 90s implemented. If you don't believe him, so be it. You trust politicians more than military officers? What do you think of the Powell doctrin? General Powell developed this doctrin when he was in charge! The Iraq war was a violation of the Powell doctrin. I am surprised that Powell was so loyal to the president that he did not resign, when Rumsfeld threw his doctrin away. *You* have recommended a study from the Department of the Army, which says: "Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was, in basic respects, a test of the theory that civilians must intervene in the military planning process and force their perspectives down the chain of command." IMHO this proves Zinni's point! The military made plans, and the civilians changed them. Your studies says so. Again from the study *you* recommended: "Events have shown that the number was ludicrously small in relation to the tasks given to U.S. forces, and that Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki was right in seeing the need for much larger numbers. On this crucial question, certainly, the record of Iraq war planning does nothing to advance the case for civilian activism." This is what Zinni said as well. I don't get it. One the one hand you criticize Zinni, on the other hand you recommend a study that makes the same statements. Your study continues to say that we should not exaggerate the mistakes. Neither I nor Zinni have done so. I just support Zinni who said that military plans were not followed as they should have been. I will leave it at that. I think I have been clear enough.
clarence - #7 - 2006-04-04 17:53 -
I did not recommend any study; another person (Franz Hoffman) did so. So, when you write "I don't get it", we agree!
David - #8 - 2006-04-05 01:48 -
Thanks for highlighting the views of General Anthony Zinni - a true patriot and a realist. It is a tragedy of US foreign policy under the Bush administration that patriots like Zinni were marginalized as the delusions of the neoconservatives took hold in the White House.
joe - #9 - 2006-04-05 16:19 -
Chris - #10 - 2006-04-05 20:51 -
Joe knows what he is talking about. That much is clear. Also, lots of people knew about the details of the Tommy Franks plan. Let's call that plan [url=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0375422625/102-5674036-0671325?v=glance&n=283155]Cobra2[/url]. Some journalists even knew a great deal about those plans and their development. They came up with witty titles like [url=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/074325547X/102-5674036-0671325?v=glance&n=283155]Plan of Attack[/url]. What I find most interesting with Gen. Zinni are the remarks he made in testimony to Congress before the invasion. In retrospect, no one should have authorized this war with such a vocal opponent. And if you read those two books, you will see that the real war planner was Rummy.
Shawn in Tokyo - #10.1 - 2006-04-07 00:41 -
Chris, Another book is American Soldier, by General(r) Tommy Franks himself, who was ironically appointed by Anthony Zinni. If you do a search for earlier Zinni quotes, he never hesitates to compliment General Franks on his war execution. It is what General Franks calls Stage IV of the war plan that Zinni is most critical of, the stage that involves the post-invasion stability operations. If you read American Soldier, it is obvious General Franks as well as others took a simplistic approach to this stage and did a lot on-the-fly--resulting in many mistakes. But regarding Stages I-III, General Franks himself was cautioned by Donald Rumself to take it easy on Colin Powell's ideas regarding the war plan that General Franks was planning with his joint-forces command in Tampa Bay (not Rumsfeld). The quotes, after Colin called General Franks prior to a Camp David critique of his planning: "I appreciate his call," I said. "But I wanted to tell him that the military has changed since he left it." Rumsfeld chuckled. "You could say that, Tom. But just be calm and professional. Answer his comments, point by point. If Colin has doubts, I want him to get them on the table in front of the President and NSC. Otherwise, we'll look like we're steamrolling." I recommend anyone speculating on the war planning through the use of third-party quotes to first read General Franks' book if you haven't already. Shawn
Shawn in Tokyo - #10.1.1 - 2006-04-07 02:21 -
In my first sentence, I said appointed by Zinni. I meant "chosen" as in he personally recommended Franks as his successor, after which Franks was officially appointed to lead CENTCOM.
Bruce Miller - #11 - 2006-04-05 22:34 -
Joerg, I think that you have read Zinni's criticism correctly. And he was right about many of the shortcomings of the prewar plans, especially the failure to plan for the postwar. I was also glad to see the paper "Revisions in Need of Revising" by David Hendrickson and Robert Tucker cited. I've found that papers from the Army War College like that are often far more frank about the real problems encountered in the Iraq War than what we get from the group we generously call our "press corps". In reading the entire transcript of Zinni's interview, though, I was struck by the fact that, as it sounds to me, he either has no idea about what to do now, or he's refraining from saying so to avoid being accused of advocating "cut and run". He seems to be working from the same conventional-war perspective that has lead the Army to the current defeat in Iraq. "We're not fighting the Waffen SS here," he says in the interview. "You know, we're fighting a bunch of ragtag people with AK-47s and IEDs and RPGs. " That's true. We're also *not fighting a conventional war*. The prevailing thinking among the officer corps, which Zinni reflects here, is that counterinsurgency is not "real" warfare. The *real* thing in that view is fighting the Waffen-SS, or Soviet Army Central pouring through the Fulda Gap. None of this is to detract from his prewar criticisms. He really deserves credit for getting so much of it right. It's his view of what to do now where I would say that Hendrickson and Tucker present a different perspective. They emphasize that "the more fundamental truth [than inadequate planning and particular mistakes] is that the United States had thrust itself into the middle of a bitterly divided society, and there was no apparent way to split the difference between groups whose aims were irreconcilable." In other words, it's likely that invading and occupying Iraq under those conditions was a task that was impossible to achieve at any acceptable cost. They even say: "Rather than 'do it better next time,' a better lesson is 'don't do it at all'." Zinni is still talking about how to do it better in Iraq this time around. Although again he deserves credit for being honest enough to say the current conflict could go on as long as 10 years. The Iraq War has degenerated from a counterinsurgency war to a counterinsurgency plus a three-way civil war among Sunni, Shi'a and Kurds. The best that the US or any other outside power can hope to accomplish at this point is to minimize our own losses and try to prevent the war from developing to the next stage of regional war. Zinni in that interview, unfortunately, still seems to be looking at it as a technical problem to be solved with solutions from the conventional-war set of approaches, which in practice comes down in a situation like this to dropping 500-lb. bombs on houses to kill a couple of suspected insurgents, or turning heavy artillery on a residential area to nail a sniper. What might have been possible in the immediate aftermath of the defeat of the Iraqi Army is very different from what would be needed now under current conditions.
Jorg - #12 - 2006-04-07 12:25 -
@ Shawn "If you read American Soldier, it is obvious General Franks as well as others took a simplistic approach to this stage and did a lot on-the-fly--resulting in many mistakes." I think "on-the-fly" is what Zinni calls "true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility." Nobody got fired, but several folks got medals. The Iraqis and the coalition forces pay the price for this. George "Slam Dunk" Tenet and Jerry "Disban the Army" Bremer got the Medal of Freedom. Franks got some medal as well. Sure, all of them served their country very well for decades, but it seems they got the medal just after having made big mistakes. What do you make of it that Franks resigned after phase III? He planned stage IV, but did not want to execute stage IV. Isn't that unusual? Eisenhower did not resign after D-Day... Or did Franks put Abizaid in charge of stage IV since Abizaid was likely to take over afterwards? @ Bruce, I don't know of anybody with some promising new concept for Iraq.
Shawn in Tokyo - #13 - 2006-04-07 16:27 -
Jorg, Read "American Soldier." Franks explains everything. I prefer not to be the inbetween. I don't think there is anything wrong with making mistakes. It is what we follow up with in terms of corrective actions that should be most scrutinized. Many a man and woman can be called a fool with the benefit of hindsight. But the real fool is the one who repeats the same mistakes over and over again. Like Franks' dad told him, "Son, you don't have to necessarily know anything to have an opinion." Best Regards, Shawn
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