Friday, April 16, 2004
Not quite right: Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni is in "I told you so" mode. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday, Zinni criticized the United States' performance in post-war Iraq.
Zinni's main criticisms are that the United States disbanded the Iraqi Army and there aren't enough troops on the ground to provide needed security. Both are fair criticisms, but Zinni's analysis of the source of the problems and solutions are troubling for such an experienced and knowledgeable individual.
For years Zinni said he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed.
"I think that some heads should roll over Iraq," Zinni said. "I think the president got some bad advice."
But what we have today in Iraq -- specifically cities like Fallujah and Najaf -- is not sectarian violence. Muqtada al Sadr, a Shiite, is wanted for the murder of another Shiite. Sunnis aren't fighting Shiites. Kurds aren't fighting Sunnis. This isn't the kind of violence Zinni predicted. Sadr is a thug making a power play.
Zinni said the United States must now rely on the U.N. to pull its "chestnuts out of the fire in Iraq."
"We're betting on the U.N., who we blew off and ridiculed during the run-up to the war," Zinni said. "Now we're back with hat in hand. It would be funny if not for the lives lost."
This is news to me. If I recall, the U.N. offices in Iraq declined security from the United States and then got blown up -- causing the U.N. to pull out of Iraq. They still haven't returned. While the United States is asking U.N. to return (they've declined thus far) the U.N. would be helping with humanitarian programs -- the U.N. will not be providing security or troops.
Frankly, during the run-up to the war, we didn't blow off or ridicule the U.N., we challenged them to stand up and stand behind all of those Security Council resolutions condemning the government of Saddam Hussein.
For various reasons (can you say Oil for Palaces, corruption, kickbacks?), the U.N. refused to live up to the reason for its founding. The U.N. is unwilling to do anything other than pass meaningless resolutions. To count on the U.N. nowadays, you're either a dreamer or a fool.
Zinni's politics appear to be overriding his good sense. It's not an uncommon occurrence nowadays.