April 17, 2004 - Anthony Zinni spent 39 years in a Marine uniform. He is hardly a dovish peace activist. His military career stretched from Vietnam to strikes against Iraq and Al Qaeda. After he retired the Bush Administration made him special envoy to the Mid-East to grapple with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His resume has included commanding the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force - the elite marine unit now engaged in Fallujah and a tour at the head of Central Command.
For years, General Zinni says, he warned the policy makers in Washington that an Iraq without Saddam would fracture into sectarian violence and become more dangerous to United States interests in the region and the world than Saddam ever was. When it became clear to him that the Administration intended to launch its war in Iraq, Zinni resigned to voice his opposition to the war policy.
Tommy Franks retired last August after an equally illustrious Army career. It was General Franks who, as Zinni’s successor at Central Command, planned and executed the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. He says that the President first discussed invading Iraq on December 28, 2001 and told him that it was the President’s hope that American boots would never touch Iraqi ground except by invitation. In an interview with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times yesterday Franks said, "The fact is that all of us believed that we were going to see weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence that indicated all of that to us simply was incomplete. It simply was not correct." In his new book Bob Woodward describes Franks as exploding with anger when, in the middle of the campaign in Afghanistan, he was ordered to prepare a plan to invade Iraq.
In separate interviews Thursday both Generals said that the military knew that America would face an insurgency after Saddam’s ouster. Speaking to the San Diego Union-Tribune Zinni expressed surprise at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s statement that he could not have anticipated the casualties suffered in the month of April. “I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus. Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?”, Zinni said. Franks told the Caller-Times that even though he thought the military expected an insurgency to follow Saddam they weren’t prepared for what they are now seeing. General Zinni says that heads should roll over Iraq; that the President got bad advice and acted on it. “I’ve seen this movie before – in Vietnam,” he said.
It won’t happen. This is the Bush Administration and rolling heads would imply that members of the Bush Administration are responsible for the chaos that Iraq has become. The Secretary of Defense, his coterie of hawks and the National Security Advisor – not to mention the Vice President – are safe in their jobs. This Administration is blessed with tunnel vision. They zero in on an objective and are unable to look to the left or right of their target. Consequences are always blamed on someone else as they peer into their tunnel looking for the light that is not there. Zinni is given no credit at all for having been on target all along. Instead he is called a traitor and his comments about the war nothing short of treason. There is no light at the end of the tunnel because this tunnel has no end to it.