Thursday, August 06, 2009

He needs the roar of the crowd









US Gen Anthony Zinni is now retired from the military. He is now promoting a new book he's written with Tony Koltz entitled Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom. He was supposed to be serving in the current administration. On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, Diane raised that issue.

Diane Rehm: General Zinni, you almost went to work for the Obama administration. I'd like to hear from you --

Anthony Zinni: Right.

Diane Rehm: -- what happened.

Anthony Zinni: Well, uh, I was called right before the inauguration and asked if I would be willing to serve as, uh, to serve in the administration in a couple of possibilities. And then --

Diane Rehm: By whom?

Anthony Zinni: By General [James L.] Jones, the National Security Advisor. And I said I would given the-the positions he mentioned,. And right after the inauguration, he called and asked if I would serve as the ambassador to, uh, Iraq. And I said I would. And, uh, received a call from the vice president thanking me that I would take that on --

Diane Rehm: Vice President [Joe] Biden.

Anthony Zinni: Vice President Biden. And, uh, I met with Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton and, uh, deputy -- two deputies. Spent a long time with her in the office. She was asking me what I understood about Iraq, my assessment. I had just gotten back not long before that doing an assessment out there. And then I left that meeting, you know, understanding fully, you know, I was going to be the nominee. I mean I was told to prepare for it, we would move the process forward very quickly because of the outgoing Ambassador Ryan Crocker was coming out very quickly.

Diane Rehm: You shook hands on it?

Anthony Zinni: Yes, we did. I mean, there was no way I left and didn't think this was going to happen. And actually thought I had a very short period of time to get my affairs in order. I mean, obviously, there are a number of things you have to do in your own financial family and all that sort of thing. And for -- a week went by and I was told to stay in touch, be prepared, quote: "Move the paperwork forward." That we were going to move up the confirmation hearings. And nothing was happening. And I tried to contact people and I couldn't get any answers. And finally late -- about a week later -- I finally got a hold of General Jones and he informed me I was not the choice and I was kind of shocked and surprised by it. And then the next morning in the Washington Post, I read that it's Chris Hill and I thought: "Had I not gotten ahold of General Jones, that's how I would found out." To be honest with you, I-I don't, I can understand people changing their minds and I don't object to that. You know that's a fact of life. I-I was just put back by not being called or told by anyone and, to this day, I haven't had anybody explain to me what happened so. But I moved on. Clearly, you know, you have to understand Washington and the way things work and I've moved on from there.

Diane Rehm: What's your best guess as to why you were not chosen?

Anthony Zinni: Honestly, Diane, I don't know. Uh, one of the reasons -- I-I started getting calls that very day from the media, from the press and, uh, people saying, "These are the rumors we're hearing." And they were attributed to senior government officials so that was disturbing. And many of the-the reasons given, I clearly knew were not right because --

Diane Rehm: Such as?

Anthony Zinni: Such as, "Well the Pentagon didn't want you." Or, "A certain general didn't want you." All-all of whom I knew personally and it's just the opposite and matter of fact were calling me upset that-that it hadn't gone through. So I began to be bothered by some of the rumors that obviously were coming out of the -- supposedly attributed by the media to senior government officials.

Diane Rehm: What kinds of rumors?

Anthony Zinni: Well, it was this particular lobby that worked against you, it was this particular individual that-that stopped it or this person. And-and to me that -- you know, to me, many of them I knew weren't true, many of them I thought were only based on rumor and so I thought it important since they were asking me what happened I tried to not engage them but then I finally said, "Well look, let me just tell you the course of events that went by. So there's no misunderstanding that I didn't know or understand that I was be the nominee. And what happened." And-and to this day, nobody's told me what happened. Not that I'm interested anymore. But [laughing] I haven't been told.

Diane Rehm: So even speaking with General Jones, he did not give you a reason?

Anthony Zinni: He did not. Our last conversation, right after that was "Well I'll get back to you as I find out." And, you know, that was in January and then I have not heard anything about it. Not that I'm, again, I'm not interested anymore in what happened.

Diane Rehm: Of course you're not interested anymore since it's over and done with. On the other hand, as a human being, if I had been in your position, I would have felt really stung.

Anthony Zinni: Yeah -- well, yes. I guess the best way to describe my feelings, was I was disappointed because there were many friends and people I respected tremendously in this process and, uh, so that-that created a disappointment and confusion on my part as to what exactly happened.

We'll come back to another section of The Diane Rehm Show in a bit. As Michael Crowley (New Republic) pointed out this week, Chris Hill has no experience with Iraq, doesn't speak Arabic "and has a background in Eastern Europe and Asia." Chris Hill demonstrated in his confirmation hearings that he didn't grasp the issues at stake around disputed Kirkuk. Hill doesn't appear to grasp the issue of the MEK or how the lack of visible efforts to stop the targeting of the MEK by Nouri al-Maliki's forces is causing global outrage. James Morrison (Washington Times) reports Democrats and Republicans in the US House of Representatives have called out the inaction in a letter to the US State Dept -- 21 Democrats, 11 Republicans including Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Brad Sherman, Diane Watson, John Boozman, Bob Inglis, Ted Poe, Dana Rohrabacher, Carolyn B. Maloney and Edolphus Towns. The representatives note, "A community of protected persons has been set upon by security forces of the state to which we relinquished their protection. We believe there is cause to fear the forced expulsion of the Ashraf residents by Iraqi forces." The legislators urge Hillary to instruct Chris Hill to address with Nouri's government "international law and with the assurances Iraq gave the U.S. regarding Ashraf residents." Last Tuesday, Nouri al-Maliki ordered the assault on Camp Ashraf, home to the MEK. The MEK has been in Iraq for decades. They are Iranian exiles welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein. They are currently considered "terrorists" by the US. They were formerly considered such by the European Union and England; however, both re-evaluated and took them off the terrorist watch list. The US military protected the residents of Camp Ashraf during the first six years of the Iraq War. UPI explains, "Iraqi police in July stormed the Camp Ashraf base of the People's Mujahedin of Iran using tear gas and water cannons, promising to expel the 3,500 members of the group." Today The Economist notes, "After the Americans took over in 2003, the PMOI people at Camp Ashraf, as the place is known, were disarmed. More recently the Iraqis decided to take over the camp, doubtless with the ecnouragement of their ruling fellow Shias in Tehran. Ignoring American protests, the Iraqi forces killed at least 11 inmates. If such crude methods are used elsewhere -- for instance, in handling insurgents wanting to come onside -- natioanl reconciliation is unlikely to be achieved." The National Council of Resistance of Iran released the following statement today:

At 9:45 local time this morning, two Iraqi helicopters armed with heavy machine guns flew at low altitude over Camp Ashraf in a bid to intimidate the residents and patrol the area. The helicopters also dropped propaganda flyers. In light of last weeks' massacre of defenseless residents of Ashraf by Iraqi suppressive forces and the US forces' inaction in this respect, and in view of the US forces' role in Iraq's aerial control, particularly in Diyala province;
1- The Iranian Resistance expresses its strongest protest to the American forces for allowing Iraqi helicopters to fly over Ashraf and demands aerial security guarantees from the US forces for Ashraf and prevention of a war crime by violation of Ashraf air space. Considering widespread influence of the terrorist Qods force in Iraq, which has been emphasized by US commanders in Iraq on a number of occasions, and with regards to Iranian regime's plots to annihilate the residents of Ashraf, opening of Ashraf air space to such flights would no doubt be misused by the Iranian regime to commit further crimes.
2- According to our information, the clerical regime's ambassador to Baghdad, Revolutionary Guard Kazemi Qomi who is one of the commanders of terrorist Qods force, had provided the content of the propaganda flyers to the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister on Tuesday, August 4, to be dropped on Ashraf.
3- There is no doubt that all these measures have been dictated by the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the government of Iraq in the midst of Iranian people's escalating uprising. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi Prime Minister, has now turned into a tool in the hands of the Iranian regime to be used against mullahs' main opposition.
Ashraf's defenseless residents who stood empty handed against barrage of bullets in one of the most barbaric criminal attacks last week by the Iraqi forces do not give any credit to Khamenei and Maliki aerial shows, thus they tore up the documents produced by Khamenei's Revolutionary Guards in Qom and Baghdad before the eyes of Iraqi forces and set fire to them.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran August 6, 2009

Former US House Rep Tom Tancredo pens a column about the MEK for the Washington Times and he states:

Human Rights Watch has called for an impartial investigation into the Iraqi police action. Videos of the July 28 attacks show police wielding not only batons and water canons but iron bars in their assault on unarmed residents. Military Humvees ran over injured protesters. Residents also claim that at least two people were killed by sniper fire. Iraqi security forces have prevented journalists from entering the camp to interview residents.
Independent observers know that the action on July 28 is hardly an isolated incident, as it came on the heels of repeated Iraqi government statements that it intends to disband the camp and evict its residents. Such statements are contrary to the agreement signed with the United States guaranteeing the safety of the refugees.
Iraq is also a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which forbids the forcible return of political refugees who face torture or cruel punishments. But where can they go if the United States continues to label them terrorists?

Iraq's Alsumaria reports that Shirwan Waeli, Minister of State, declared they will not grant asylum to the refugees. Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) reports that Nouri's bag boy Ali al-Dabbagh issued denials that water, medical supplies and food were being blocked from arriving at Camp Ashraf and notes that the claims of the blockage comes from human rights activists as well as Camp Ashraf residents.

The betrayal of the residents of Camp Ashraf should alarm some in England. Today US Maj Gen Richard Nash briefed reporters at the Pentagon. Nash was appearing via satellite from Basra and he was explaining how, in sourthern Iraq, Iraqis are showing leadership. The British turned Basra over to the US and the US is now eager to pass it on to Iraqis. Nash declared, "The Iraqis have stepped up to the challenge and have faced threates head on." How does this apply to England? As the British troops left, they left behind a dog and a cat and asked the Americans to take care of them. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports the dog is Sandbag and has 32,000 Facebook friends and 6,000 people who petitioned the British government to allow Sandbag to come to England. Instead, Downing Street released this statement: "Our US colleagues have assured us that both Sandbag and Hesco will be well cared for. Both are currently fit and healthy." Hesco is the Iraqi cat the British soldiers adopted. Of course, the residents of Camp Ashraf were assured by Americans that they would be protected. And, seeing how that turned out, maybe the world should worry Nouri will next launch an assault on Sandbag and Hesco? If so, apparently the White House will remain mute as it has throughout the Camp Ashraf assault.

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