Posted by AssyriansVote4Peace from dialup-126.96.36.199.Dial1.LosAngeles1.Level3.net (188.8.131.52) on Friday, October 11, 2002 at 11:49PM :
Published on Friday, October 11, 2002 by the Washington Post
Ex-Commander Opposes Iraq Invasion
by Thomas E. Ricks
The former U.S. military commander for the Middle East came out against a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq yesterday, saying that he believes the policy of containing President Saddam Hussein has been working.
Retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who preceded Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks as head of Central Command, told a meeting at a Washington think tank that the United States has other priorities in the Middle East.
"I'm not convinced we need to do this now," Zinni said at a meeting of the Middle East Institute. "I believe he is . . . containable at this moment."
Zinni, who served in northern Iraq in 1991 as chief of staff for the Kurdish relief operation that came after the Gulf War, added that he thinks "war and violence are a very last resort and we have to be very careful how we apply it, especially now, in our position in the world."
Zinni has served over the past two years as an unpaid consultant to the State Department on Israeli-Palestinian issues. He said he believes that re-energizing Middle East peace talks is a higher priority than dealing with Iraq. He added that several other issues also should take precedence, such as encouraging reform in Iran and improving U.S. relations with Arab states.
"I would take those priorities before" Iraq, Zinni said. "My personal view is I think this isn't number one; it's maybe sixth or seventh."
His comments, made in Washington on the day the House voted to give President Bush broad authority to use military force against Iraq, were the most explicit Zinni has made about his opposition to any such action. In August, he gave a talk in Tampa in which he warned that a U.S. war against Iraq would needlessly create enemies.
Zinni's criticism of the administration's stance on Iraq is significant not only because of his relationship with the State Department but also because he is widely respected in the U.S. military. His concerns are widely shared by many in the leadership of the military but aren't universal, a retired three-star general said.
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