Adds Zinni: "If you charge me with the responsibility of taking this nation
to war, if you charge me with implementing that policy with creating the
strategy which convinces me to go to war, and I fail you, then I ought to go."
Who specifically is he talking about?
"Well, it starts with at the top. If you're the secretary of defense and
you're responsible for that. If you're responsible for that planning and
that execution on the ground. If you've assumed responsibility for the
other elements, non-military, non-security, political, economic, social and
everything else, then you bear responsibility," says Zinni. "Certainly
those in your ranks that foisted this strategy on us that is flawed.
Certainly they ought to be gone and replaced."
Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration
known as "the neo-conservatives" who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to
stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of
Israel. They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz;
Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member
Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice
President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American
policy in Iraq.
"I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody -
everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their
agenda was and what they were trying to do," says Zinni.
"And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who describe
themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I mean, you
know, unbelievable that that's the kind of personal attacks that are run
when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I certainly didn't
criticize who they were. I certainly don't know what their ethnic religious
backgrounds are. And I'm not interested."
Adds Zinni: "I know what strategy they promoted. And openly. And for a
number of years. And what they have convinced the president and the
secretary to do. And I don't believe there is any serious political leader,
military leader, diplomat in Washington that doesn't know where it came from."
Zinni said he believed their strategy was to change the Middle East and
bring it into the 21st century.
"All sounds very good, all very noble. The trouble is the way they saw to
go about this is unilateral aggressive intervention by the United States -
the take down of Iraq as a priority," adds Zinni. "And what we have become
now in the United States, how we're viewed in this region is not an entity
that's promising positive change. We are now being viewed as the modern
crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this part of the world...