Thursday, March 17, 2005

General Zinni Speaks At Beloit

This is from an article on a speech that Gen. Zinni gave yesterday at Beloit University.
Most Americans now respect the military even if they disagree with the political decision to go to war, he said.

But magnetic yellow ribbons are not enough, the retired general said.

'This is your military. This is your security; this is your protection. It is the image you project overseas,' Zinni said. 'You need to re-embrace that military. You need to demand that the military be the military you want.'
Unfortunately, right now the only people who are able to "demand" anything from the Bush Administration and Congress are those who are paying, or who turned out for them in election. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many of those who voted for Bush in the last election are pretty much clueless about National Security (i.e. they conflate our enemies, they believe WMD were already found in Iraq, etc) and/or hostile to many of the transformations that are necessary to protect ourselves (for example, see Pstupidonymous' response to my initial Draft Zinni post regarding preparations for biological attacks). Besides, I haven't seen anything that suggests that the Bush Administration has learned from its mistakes in Iraq or has embraced enhancing our nation building skills as a national security priority. In fact, the nominations of Bolton and Wolfowitz suggest that Bush thinks that his go-it-alone strategy is continuing unabated.

This is from earlier in the article:
America's armed forces are good, professional, highly trained and well equipped, he said. But he added that they are fraying at the ends-losing veterans and failing to attract new recruits-in part because of the nontraditional tasks they are ordered or forced to perform but weren't trained and equipped for.

Zinni posed many questions: Should the military deal with failing or failed states such as Somalia and Haiti? Shouldn't there be other national or international organizations to do what American military personnel have been ordered to do, such as keep the peace and rescue populations from drought and famine?

"Shouldn't we try to solve problems before we're left with that one punch-intervention?" he asked. "Shouldn't there be international cooperation and support to intervene early?
Yes we should, but the Republicans (almost certainly) never will. Our only hope appears to be electing Democrats to congress who have the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to make these difficult decisions (and enough of them to bring the party back into the majority). And though Zinni still claims to be a Republican, his views on international relations are shared mostly by Democrats and Progressives (I bet I could count on two hands the number of blogging/activist Republicans who share his views).

Democrats need to reach a hand out to Zinni-- we need his voice, his experience, his wisdom-- but would Zinni take that hand? If men like Zinni aren't willing to do more than just speak up, if they're not willing to run for office and take back power from the neo-con revolutionaries and reactionary and isolationist/unilateralist Republicans, than I fear that the changes we need to make to defend ourselves won't be made in time. The clock is ticking..........