Web Extra: Steve Inskeep's Extended Interview with Zinni
Web Extra: Zinni's May 12, 2004, Speech on Iraq to the Center for Defense Information Board of Directors (Audio Courtesy CDI)
Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni
Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his top aides should be held responsible for failing to plan for Iraq's reconstruction after the U.S.-led war.
"It was their job to ensure that the strategy they gave to the president of the United States was correct," Zinni, the former Marine Corps general who headed the U.S. Central Command before his retirement in 2000, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "I believe it was flawed. They were responsible for planning and organizing what we needed on the ground to rebuild this country. We have lost a year."
Zinni says U.S. troops were "led to believe they would be greeted with flowers in the street and hailed as liberators -- they weren't. They were led to believe that the world was behind them and that this was the right cause. And they can see where they're not treated as liberators. They're treated as occupiers, as crusaders..."
He says the U.S. military was provided with unrealistic objectives in Iraq. "We were in there talking about Jeffersonian democracy, free market economies, changing the face of the Middle East with this one blow. That was ridiculous, and I think now what we have is young kids paying the price..."
Zinni is the author -- along with Tom Clancy -- of Battle Ready, a new book about the former general's life and career.