View Full Version : Blurring Political Lines in the Military Debate

12-05-2006, 09:11 AM
5 December NY Times - Blurring Political Lines in the Military Debate (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/05/washington/05military.html?adxnnl=1&ref=world&adxnnlx=1165309595-8BSva1Jx0KXbH92lvJZZwg) by Michael Gordon.

No military expert was more forthright in opposing the Iraq war than Anthony C. Zinni.

General Zinni, a retired marine who once served as the top American military officer in the Middle East, contended that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was vastly overstated and that invading Iraq would be a burdensome distraction from the struggle against Al Qaeda.

These days General Zinni is delivering another provocative message: that leaving Iraq quickly would strengthen Iranian influence throughout the Middle East, create a sanctuary for terrorist groups, encourage even more sectarian strife in Iraq and risk turmoil in an oil-rich region.

“This is not Vietnam or Somalia or those places where you can walk away,” General Zinni said in a recent interview. (He served in both countries.) “If we just pull out, we will find ourselves back in short order.”

Instead, he says, the United States should leave open the door for a temporary increase in American troops, an argument he included in a broader plan prepared for the World Security Institute, a research organization, and made public on Monday. “It may be necessary to surge them for a short term,” he said.

General Zinni noted that his position was similar to that of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a staunch supporter of the decision to invade. “I do believe more troops are required on the ground,” the general said. “I believe what Senator McCain says.”...

12-06-2006, 04:38 AM
I just finished reading "Savage War of Peace" a few weeks ago, and what struck me as I was reading it was how Horne spoke of the Indochina experience, where officers had to deal with more than just conventional ops, but also on the political side of things in Indochina, as creating officers who were less afraid of mixing it up in national politics.

Now, I know that French politics of the time and our current politics aren't the same (after all, we are not prone to revolutions), but I think that it is interesting that the "revolt of the Generals" involves officers who, while not Vietnam vets themselves, were certainly influenced by those who did fight their as lieutenants and captains. Also, during that debate, it was pointed out that it was a new phenomenon for retired flag officers to endorse presidential candidates, and you had some Vietnam vets in that crowd who had crossed the invisible civil-military relations professional divide to do so.