Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Retired general critiques U.S. policy in Iraq -

This weekend Gen Zinni was in Camden, Maine, this weekend speaking at a conference titled "The Middle East: Compromise or Conflagration?":
"CAMDEN - The general who commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East from 1997 to 2000 says the nation's policy in Iraq has been characterized by a series of compounding mistakes and that too often Americans infer that the region's Islamic residents hate the West. In a keynote address to the 18th annual Camden Conference on Friday night, retired Gen. Anthony Zinni said the Middle East is best understood as a group of nations not always in agreement, dealing with rapid changes and great pressures from within and without.

'We always seem to think there's some design, some monolithic purpose,' Zinni said, but that misses the reality.

Having lived in both the West and the Middle East, Zinni said, 'I don't see anything that makes this an inevitable clash.'

The Middle East is more like Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, he said, with monarchies and quasi-democracies struggling to enter the modern world.

'This part of the world wants to be involved in determining its future and feels it's being left out,' leaving people confused and frustrated, he said.

Generalities about the region bother him, Zinni said, because in his years observing the area, he has often uncovered 'another layer I didn't know about before.'

The Islamic Middle East is not a unified bloc opposed to the West, Zinni said."
Don't tell that to George W(ith us or against us) Bush. Or at least don't expect him or his administration to listen. This administration has already decided what the facts are in the Middle East, and no amount of rationality or reality will convince them otherwise.