In keeping with this theme put forward by my favorite President (seen at left during his heroic service in the Navy), I have decided to write a series of columns profiling a handful of Americans who I think would be fantastic leaders of this great nation of ours.
Rather than continuing to bitch about the bullshit going on right now in our government, I am going to continue, for awhile anyway, my search for President (almost) Perfect. I am going to base my selections on the type of people JFK selected for his book. People who are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in....people who made of stern stuff....people who exemplify the best qualities of what it means to be an American.
People who are looking forward to the New Frontier.
On August 26, 2002 the Veterans of Foreign Wars had a convention. Vice President Dick Cheney was guest speaker and this is a quote from his speech.
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is not doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us."
Sitting near him, behind the podium, was a man being honored that day for his years of service in the military. This man was General Anthony Zinni and Cheney's remarks caused him great bewilderment.
Anthony Charles Zinni was born on September 17, 1943 and is a retired general in the United States Marine Corps. He is also a former Commander in Chief of US Central Command (CENTCOM). He has received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart in his illustrious career in the military. In 2002 he was selected to be a special envoy of the United States to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And, yes, he is one of several generals that have come forward in recent weeks who have been critical of the Iraq War.
General Zinni discussed the VFW convention and Cheney's remarks on a recent edition of Meet the Press with Tim Russert. I urge all of you to go and read the full transcript of the show which you can find here.
Here is a part of the transcript of that show:
MR. RUSSERT: After that event, The Washington Post captured your thinking in a conversation with you. Cheney's certitude bewildered [retired General Tony] Zinni. ... In my time at CENTCOM, I watched the intelligence, and never - not once - did it say, 'He has WMD.' Though retired for nearly two years, Zinni says, he remained current on the intelligence through his consulting with the CIA and the military. 'I did consulting work for the agency, right up to the beginning of the war. I never saw anything. I'd say to analysts, 'Where's the threat?' Their response, he recalls, was, 'Silence.'Zinni's concern deepened as Cheney pressed on. ... Zinni's conclusion as he slowly walked off the stage was that the Bush administration was determined to go to war. A moment later, he had another, equally chilling thought: 'These guys don't understand what they're getting into.'""
Here we have a more than qualified member of the military...one of many....stepping forward and telling the truth about the situation in Iraq. He went on to say later in the show that the current Iraq policy is"an insult to the troops who, for 10 years, ran the containment: those brave pilots who flew the no-fly zones, those sailors who enforced the maritime intercept operations, our soldiers and Marines that were on the ground out there that responded to every crisis, our support for the efforts of the inspectors that were in there. "
His assesment of pre-war planning, the current situation, and the future in the Middle East, should we continue blindly following the lead of the dolts that are presently running this show, is chilling at best....horrifying at worst. General Zinni feels that unless we drastically alter our policy, Iraq is going to continue to degenerate, become more unstable, and ultimately achieve complete failure in the War on Terror..a failure which could prove to be very costly for American both in innocent lives lost and in our economic standing in the world.
General Zinni does put forward a plan for the Middle East in his new book Battle For Peace. In the book he says:
"The Battle for Peace is not a battle in the classical sense - a battle that follows the sudden crisis blow that triggers a military conflict. The battle is the constant struggle to develop and build the measures, programs, systems, and institutions that will prevent crisis. The battle is the constant struggle to shape and manage the harmful elements in the environment that generate instabilities.
One review of his book summed up my feelings for General Zinni perfectly.
Tony Zinni is one of my heroes. He not only understands asymmetric warfare and the urgency of getting serious (that is to say, professional, which we are not at this time) about global instability in the intangible non-military dimensions, but he is a clear-headed diplomat and warrior-philosopher who knows how to make big bureaucracies do his bidding. I hope the day comes when we have a chance to work together to save this great Republic from the morons that have broken the piggy bank, cost us all moral legitimacy in the eyes of the world, and started a 100 year six front war we did not need and were not ready for. BRAVO ZULU and GUNG HO.
Most of you have heard me speak often and loud about the need for a "JFK" type of leader....a hero that we can all rally around.....a person who is both strong and intelligent. I believe that General Zinni IS that man. As he has made the rounds on talk shows, I have noticed a quiet seriousness about the man. It's as if he deeply understands all that is at stake in the Middle East and knows that the time for a new direction is now. He doesn't take kindly to joking about our current situation and, in many ways, is a consumate professional
He has stood up and given us some very harsh truths about the current state of US Foreign Policy. I am praying that people in our government start listening to him. I am praying that he runs for President in 2008. He is a man of great bravery and integrity and I would be proud to follow him.