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Good evening, it's my pleasure to introduce General Anthony Zinni. General Zinni was the President's envoy to the Middle East. He served as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command that meant he oversaw the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region. He is most recently the author of The Battle For Peace: A Front Line Vision of America's Power And Purpose. He served in the Marine Corps beginning in 1961. He served in 70 different countries around the world, gathered many medals along the way. His detailed biography is in your program, so I will just mention that he is a scholar, he is a diplomat, he's a Marine, he is going to tonight talk to us about Iraq, Iran, and the changing nature of warfare and he will draw on his experiences in Iraq in Somalia and in Afghanistan and elsewhere in doing that, so would you join me in welcoming a great American, General Anthony Zinni. Well I'm going to start right in and ask you the question, General Zinni, whether the world's a better place since the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Has our security gone up or down, and has the security of the average Iraqi gone up or down? Well I think it's obviously too early to make a judgment on that. I was called to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee just before the war started about 3 weeks before, and one of the Senators said, "Why are we into this debate about what would happen? I mean, getting rid of Saddam is good enough, nothing could be worse than Saddam." And I reminded the Senator that we said the same thing in Afghanistan when we wanted the Soviets out. We went in and helped the Muhajeddin rid Afghanistan of the Soviets and we left and we ended up with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, so you might not necessarily end up with a better situation, in some ways it could be worse. Not that the alternative is good, but if you're not careful you could end up with the kind of chaos and t he kind of instability that has a broader effect. It doesn't mean we should tolerate dictators, certainly, and that's not what I was trying to say, but when you go in to fix something, make sure you understand what it's going to take to fix it. What bothered me most about the way we were approaching Iraq is I really felt from my experience, and this was almost a decade of being involved in this part of the world, with Iraq, was six years in the actual planning, and the last 16 years in this region of the world, is that we understood that it wouldn't be very difficult to take down the regime, defeat the Republican Guard and go to Baghdad, but what I saw was this overly optimistic set of assumptions about what would happen afterwards, a belief that we could impose these exiles from outside and that they would be accepted, we knew that that wouldn't be the case, that we would be greeted as liberators, there would be flowers in the street, that there would be a cakewalk. There were too many forces internally and externally that would work against all that, and too much potential for instability and chaos within it if you didn't control. And the best way I would sum it up is those of us that had done the planning previous to the plan that was decided upon, felt that in the end we would need a true occupation in Iraq, you couldn't get away with doing something less on the cheap. You would have to control the environment for a period of time before you created the kind of environment that would allow the political, economic, and social reconstruction of that society, it was that traumatized, and that potentially dangerous, and I think that's what was missing in all this. What kind of numbers did you project then, and you feel are needed now in terms of boots on the ground? What is the ratio that has worked say in Bosnia and Kosovo of forces to civilian population? We estimated in my time in the planning and my predecessors that it would be between 380-500,000 troops necessary, at least initially, to secure the borders, to maintain law and order, to protect the infrastructure and the population, to make sure that you dictated how the military and security forces would be reconstructed, that you would ensure militias and other local potentially adversarial organizations would not form and not present a problem for you, and so we felt that that was the range that you needed for a country that size, and for, again, the kind of situation you would find yourself in and the condition the population would be in, the mood, the underlying ethnic and sectarian and religious animosities that existed that could be inflamed. Gerry Bremmer was here, Paul Bremmer, who was head of the coalition provisional authority, and he said that at the time, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, as the looting began, he recommended to Secretary Rumsfeld that they vastly increase the number of troops. Was that a tipping point, or was that too late at that point? I believe it was too late, you know, you had to go in with those numbers again, not to defeat the Republican Guard, I was concerned as I saw the march up to Baghdad, we saw the magnificent performance of our troops, and the rapidity at which they were able to move on Baghdad which probably saved casualties, civilian casualties destruction and maybe a humanitarian catastrophe, but I said at the time, they're leaving black holes behind them, because as soon as you move through an area, you have removed every form of control, I mean Saddam in his authoritarian regime was a form of order and control through his secret police, the Mukhabbarat, the Republican Guard, through the police, and even the regular military. When you pull the plug on that, you had people rush across the borders from Iran, Syria, elsewhere. You had militias that might have been fighting the insurgency rise up and take control of the streets, you had gangs and criminal elements that began to operate freely, you create the mob mentality of the looting, and so you needed the numbers initially in there. I don't think politically now we could do that and bring them in and it would actually be counterproductive to go back to your first point, but we missed that opportunity, and I would just say that in my experience, I've spent time in Somalia, Vietnam, in Iraq itself and many other places in dealing with these kinds of situations, that the reconstruction of the society begins when the first boot crosses what we call in the military the 'line of departure'. In other words, when those first soldiers moved from Kuwait and kicked off the operation, that's when reconstruction starts, it isn't, I never liked this idea of phasing it, of thinking there's sort of a major combat phase, an other phase, you could do things in that initial phase that will set you back in the following phase. The plan has to be seamless and the soldiers up front, in this case taking down the regime, defeating the Republican Guard, have to understand what's going to come after so they don't do things in the course of what they do that make it much more difficult for the reconstruction later on. We have a good deal of experience with this, with the experience in Bosnia, experience in Kosovo, I noticed that Josh Jacovy is here who had his experience in Kosovo, that knowledge is resident in the State Department. Why wasn't it tapped? Well, I'm not sure. I mean, I thought there was some excellent thinking on this in the State Department; even some planning that had come out. It sort of confounded me that the plan for reconstruction went to the Defense Department. I mean, obviously the Defense Department has a role, I mean the security of this, the logistics, and other things naturally would fall to the Defense Department. In my time at CENCOM, I began to become worried about not having a reconstruction plan. We had a war plan, we didn't have a reconstruction plan, and we were worried that the reconstruction would fall to us, and the military would once again be stuck with that mission primarily, and I asked if we could convene sort of a war game, we called it Desert Crossing, we did it in Washington D.C., and Boozallen-Hamilton, and Boozallen-Hamilton that does a lot of our classified war games, we brought together members of the State Department, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the intelligence agencies, virtually every agency in the U.S. government, and the first part of this, I asked them if we could identify the kinds of problems we might face in reconstruction, and I was overwhelmed when I saw the level of problems that really were brought up in this, as a matter of fact, virtually every one that occurred was brought up in that, some that didn't occur, we were concerned about the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe, refugees and that sort of thing, after we sort of digested what we might face, it was again, shocking to us. I went back and asked if we could now develop and inter-agency plan for doing this, and maybe some sort of signing up to the commitment to this, and at that point the other agencies said they would not do it. They would not do it. They would not sign up to the planning that wasn't in their charter. I went back to my headquarters at U.S. Central Command, and now I was getting toward the end of my time as Commander, and I had my staff begin planning the reconstruction, and my military staff planners were saying, "We don't do political reconstruction, economic reconstruction, social reconstruction, what are we doing?" I said, "Nobody else is doing it. We may not know how to do it, but we now know what the problems might be, let's try to discern what the factors that have to be accomplished on the ground and have to be met, what they might be in the plan," so when I left CENCOM, this Desert Crossing had become a complimentary plan for reconstruction, and as I was leaving CENCOM, I thought, you know, I've worked in Korea, I've worked in other areas and unified commands that have deliberate war plans against a specific threat, like North Korea, and the same situation occurred in these places where we had a war plan, we didn't have a reconstruction plan, and to me that was a shortcoming in all our planning, and watching this go down, watching the sort of ad hoc way the reconstruction organization was put together, the lack of depth of understanding of the culture, the situation, the true circumstances on the ground, the lack of connection with the years of planning that went before that, I really became concerned that we were going to go in and our expectations were going to be overly optimistic and we were going to find ourselves mired down, which unfortunately occurred, and of course the first organization, the Office of Humanitarian and Reconstruction, did not succeed, and that's when, of course, Gerry Bremmer, and the Coalition Provisional Authority was formed, but again, ad hoc comes in later, people not familiar with the region, I think some mistakes that we had already planned for, like disbanding the Army, we actually had a psychological operation that was ongoing for a number of years where we had actually communicated to the Iraqi Army and said "When the time comes, if you don't fight, we'll keep you intact." We used to drop leaflets on their garrison position when they bombed the air defenses, when they fired at our planes, saying this. We communicated through some of our Arab friends to them, every time I appeared on Arab Radio or TV or interviewed with the print media we always made a point of saying the regular army are just as much victims as the people are, we have no gripe against them, if the time comes and they don't fight, we will take care of them, keep them in being, so I was really shocked to see the disbanding of the Army and young men with weapons and nothing to do go home. We had intended to really vet the leadership in change of keep them in being, we thought through how this de-Baathification might go, we had thought through how we would affect a surrender in Baghdad, whoever the most senior person is we could get our hands on, we would have a surrender ceremony in Baghdad, we'd put him in the witness protection program with Tony Soprano, he'd go to Phoenix, Arizona, we'd grab a general and say, "Sign here, buddy," and psychologically these are important moments. I learned from not only Vietnam as a young officer but more so from Somalia and other places, you have what I termed 'Momentum Moments' that are going to occur, you can create some of them, some by surprise, some naturally in the course of events, and if we do not capitalize on them you lose a chance to jumpstart whatever you're trying to do. We had those moments like the taking down of the statue, the capture of Saddam, the free elections, and if you don't capitalize on the momentum moments, you actually have a reverse effect. The expectations get so high, that momentum moment creates such a psychological fever if you will amongst the people that if nothing comes immediately after that, you don't capitalize on it, then actually that their disappointment becomes so great and they fall back at looking on other alternatives, you lost a trust and confidence in what you're trying to deliver to them and they look elsewhere to religious leaders, ethnic leaders, militias, and places that are going to become counterproductive in the long run. Do we have a sense right now of the nature of the enemy? The extent to which these Jihadists are foreign or homegrown? The extent to which these are warring factions of Iraqis who are fighting over the spoils? Well it seems to me that it's become a real witch's brew, this is not an insurgency in the classic sense where there's one ideology and it's a monolithic enemy. You have the al-Qaeda, what the Iraqis call the foreigners, these are people coming in, the Zarqawis of the world, from the outside. You have a criminal element that actually started out as street crime and willing to for a hundred dollars, maybe fire an RPG or support terrorists begin kidnapping and doing things that the normal street crime is now beginning to move into organized crime, we're getting to a point now where that criminal element is becoming much more organized, much more significant, extortion, intimidation, and kidnapping on a large scale almost as a business. You have the Sunnis who have become disaffected, that feel victimized, that have formed either because of something that personally happened, lost a family member, were humiliated in an operation and have taken up arms in almost a way to react against the powers that be, you have the militias and their death squads on either side that obviously have been seeking revenge on attacks and can be easily stirred, and then you have the ex-Baathists that are still running around that have some sort of structure, some sort of organization, some sort of leadership ability in putting this together, so it's become a real mix of problems, and in my mind you can't approach every one of these the same way. I mean, in the case of the Sunnis, you might be able to win them back, give them confidence that they won't be victimized, held responsible for Saddam, marginalized in any kind of government, but obviously you're going to have to deal with criminals and al-Qaeda in a much different way. And so the sort of one size fits all approach to this mixed bag, sort of labeling it an insurgency, I think may give you the wrong signal as to how to approach this. But it seems to me that if it's an insurgency, you would want to empower Iraqis as quickly as possible to help put it down, but if it's a civil war, the Iraqi forces could be party to the conflict. I mean, there are a couple of things that happened that would worry me, one is it was easy to recruit Shi'a and Kurds to the security forces, so you have young Shi'a and Kurds in uniform going into Sunni areas, kicking in doors. We run these massive offensive operations, we're training a mini-military out there to find the Waffen SS I guess, because it doesn't make sense and the training and the kinds of units to me, and they sort of make the problem worse, you know, you need Sunni recruits, and Sunnis need to deal with Sunnis, you're going to validate the civil war by trying to do this because in our minds, again, Western mentality, they're in uniform, they represent the government, you shouldn't look at their ethnic origins. That's not the way things work out there, and it makes the problem worse in handling it that way. In addition to that, the emphasis, it seems to me again is on equipment and training and structure and all that's very important, but in these kinds of environments the key is street intelligence. You have to build the kind of intelligence networks that can put money on the street, the counterintelligence teams, you have to win the confidence of the people that they can anonymously work with you, get connected to the intelligence network you set up, and that would help you very selectively and almost surgically deal with these elements, and it wouldn't require these big operations in most cases that alienate people. I think that we have to find a way to activate the people and give them sort of a network they can tap into that this kind of reporting, this kind of understanding on the street, in Somalia we created, and I give the credit to our counterintelligence teams, we created a wonderful intelligence network on the ground in Mogadishu before we were there, the United Nations came in. We brought in some very sophisticated professional intelligence people, not only military but in other agencies, they connected on the ground, they created a local network in and amongst the people, and our knowledge and understanding in that first phase was way better than it was in the UN phase and later on as we saw what happened in the Black Hawk Down days and everything else. We appear to have an exit plan to reduce the troops down to 100,000 in the next year and ultimately have them out within two years. How smart is it to get that kind of word out? There is no exit, and what I mean by there is no exit, this is another thing that in that testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee I tried to convey, that we still think in almost World War II terms, that you go out there, you defeat the enemy, you reconstruct a society, and you come home. We don't come home anymore. What I said to that committee is "Whatever you do in Iraq, you leave for the United States Central Command. And the United States Central Command will be in that region." They may not physically be in Iraq; they may have to go back into Iraq if the instability that generates from Iraq makes the region unstable. We are not going to leave a region of the world that, this is CENCOM, that has in it 70 percent of the world's oil, almost 50 percent of the world's natural gas, that is the hinge plate of three continents, just look at the trade points, the choke points, the Suez Canal, the (word undetermined), the Strait of Hormouz, the Straits of Malaka and the way the East-West trade routs flow, the Aral Sea, you're not going to leave a part of the world that if it becomes unstable and there are problems that are going to strike out and have global effects, not just in the Islamic world as we sort of know it and countries that are Muslim, but now to Muslim communities that exist in large numbers in the West, in Europe, here and elsewhere. To think that there is an exit strategy and a get out and leave, you might physically remove troops from Iraq but you will have troops in the region. And your security interests in the region will require you not to let some sort of sanctuary, some sort of festering pot of problems of instability exist in the heart of this area, this region, I just can't imagine what would happen. So when people talk exits, and they talk leaving, I think they need to put it in context of our regional security. I am all for removing the large bases in there, and maybe moving some of those that we have to retain to places where we have traditional relationships like Kuwait and elsewhere that combat troops may be in there, or troops that support the security forces go in for a short time but come out and base outside. What I see is that would be the next phase of the draw down, sends a good signal that we're not in there to stay, no permanent bases, but we will be in the region, and leaving Iraq to its own devices will not work. Believe me, our economy would suffer, the world's economy would suffer, our security and stability interests would suffer, and access to a very important part of the would be in question. To what would you attribute the distinction between the kinds of reports we're getting from on the ground, this assessment that was done on the stability of each of the provinces by the military commanders on the ground as well as our ambassador there, it's a pretty grim picture on the one hand, and on the other hand the President and Vice President at the same time are painting a far rosier picture? To what do you attribute that discrepancy? Well, I think that it's clear that the most troubled provinces are in the center and the Sunni regions, and to a lesser degree you have security problems that are probably manageable by the Iraqis themselves in the North and in the South, in the Kurdish areas and in the Shi'a areas. What I don't understand is in the more stable provinces we should be about promoting economic development, jobs, and creating an environment where investors are bought in, Iraqi businesses are starting up, because I really think that this would send a signal that as the provinces stabilize, this is what the future holds, and would be an incentive in those provinces that have security problems to cooperate as I mentioned before, and intelligence system to be laid down and to work towards ridding themselves the troublemakers because this is what the future is. I don't think the Iraqi people see the future. I think that when we came in the hope was "If I cast my lot with you, I'm going to have a better life." And I think they've now decided that better life isn't with us, they can't trust whether we'll be there, we haven't provided the security, bad guys in this situation want one of three results regarding the people. They either want sympathy from the people and support, they want apathy, or they want fear. And as long as you have a combination of those in the people, you as the insurgent or whatever you are, you're going to succeed because the people then aren't reacting. You have to eliminate that those emotions and feelings amongst the people. They have to feel secure with you; they have to feel that they have an investment in their future with you. I would hold a summit somewhere in the region, a business summit, not a donor's summit, but investors in Iraqi businessmen, beginning in the more secure provinces. I would do something radically different now that I think is controversial and people can argue about it, it may not be smart, but I will legitimize the militias because they're a fact of life. When we had the opportunity to get rid of them, we didn't. We didn't control it. So I would now make them territorial guards. I would ask the government of Iraq now to certify them, it's almost like national guards, they would have local security responsibilities, they would be transparent, you would know who is in the militias, they would be responsible for protecting infrastructure and people in their assigned areas where they come from, and then I would also give them humanitarian tasks to keep their busy little devil hands occupied. I would give them bulldozers and caterpillar backhoes, and say "Build bridges, help your own people, have a construction unit, and your job is much like our national guard in some ways is local security, and your job is protecting the infrastructure and your own people. You are part of a national security force but you also do good things and good works and by the way, now we know who you are." I was going to say, when retributions happen, what do you do? Well the issue would be handled then by the local territorial guards, or if they cannot handle it then the National Security force, which would be responsible for border security, would come in to reinforce them, but the lead in dealing with, if a Sunni perpetrates an act against a Shi'a, the lead element that should deal with it is the Sunni Territorial Guard, backed up by the national force, which may be a mix, but you need to put, in this environment you need to put Sunni on Sunni. We can imagine and this is nothing like it is over there, if you took the Alabama National Guard and brought it to New York City to do riot control, how much the acceptability might be a little bit difficult, and that's mild compared to bringing Shi'a into Sunni territories, or Sunni into, and you're not going to disband the militias. The Peshmirga are going to be there. I don't care what anybody says or agrees to, the Barzanis and Talibanis in the world will keep their Peshmirga. The Sastanis and the Sadrs of the world will keep their militias. So, and we missed the opportunity to control the situation where either they didn't come back into Iraq or we could eliminate them, that's long gone. And so the other not the most preferable option is now to figure a way to coop them and bring them into the process. Now you were, I believe the first retired general to call for the resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld, and spontaneously six others maybe seven others, in fact, at this point, have taken the same view. Why, and why now? First of all, I don't believe I was the first, I think General Eaton had put out an op-ed piece. I didn't call for, I was on Tim Russert Meet the Press, and at the end he asked me, "If you were in charge, was there someone you would hold responsible and ask for a resignation or fire?" And I said, "Yes, it would be the Secretary of Defense," and I was very careful to say, "It's not personal, I don't believe I've ever met him, I haven't served under him," so unlike the other five generals I don't have a firsthand issue with his leadership style because I haven't experienced it, thank God, the, my issue was that in order to be able to move forward, you can't be defending the past. You can't be stuck on defending past mistakes. I felt there was a flawed strategy, that the plans were inadequate, that the assumptions were overly optimistic, some of the decisions were horrible, like bringing in exiles and trying to beam them, disbanding the military, de-Baathifying, and a series of other mistakes that were made on the ground. The organization for reconstruction was woefully inadequate, and to me, these mistakes were so bad and at such a level that you needed someone in that wasn't attached to them to be able to move forward. That week, before I said that, the Secretary of State, Secretary Rice, made a comment when she was in the United Kingdom that we have made a thousand tactical mistakes. I took issue with the term tactical because I thought there might have been a few policy and strategic mistakes in there, and I knew she didn't mean it this way, but saying tactical mistakes makes it sound like the troops and the people out there made mistakes, and I know she didn't mean it to be that way, but the response from the Secretary of Defense was, "I don't know what she's talking about." So he wasn't even aware of any mistakes that were made. mean, I'm not trying to be cute about this, but in order to move forward, in order that every press conference isn't a defense of the past, in order to be open to new ideas, in order to build relationships with people that you have strained the relationship with, I think (word undetermined), despite what they say may still be blistering from the relationships and the comments, in the region where I know the leaders and I see them often, are still wondering when someone is going to come by and begin consulting with them and asking for their help, can they provide it to somebody that's attached to the past and through some of the experiences that have left them bruised? So my comment on that was not, I only know really one of the other generals. None of us talked to each other at all, or communicated in any way. This was sort of the perfect storm, I guess, it was the week to complain,