Zinni on Syria

General Anthony Zinni, USMC

General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthony Zinni is a retired US Marine General who was our Commander-in-Chief of CENTCOM in the Middle East from 1997 to 2000. Today he is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. He is also the author of a book entitled, The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose which I recommend highly. If anyone knows the Middle East and can speak with authority about Syria, it is Tony Zinni. Many have commented on Syria recently and many more will comment in the coming days. Of all the comments I have heard, his make the most sense. He believes that now is a good time for a discussion of America’s future role in the world. Do we want to be the world’s policeman and are we able to fulfill that function?

Some of the reasons for intervening in Syria that I have heard include that it will shorten the civil war in Syria and save lives. I doubt that very much. Others believe that we must intervene so that our enemies will continue to fear us. I don’t buy that argument either. The US must intervene because we said that we would. The US has reneged on proposed and actual treaties in the past and probably will do so again in the future. Our national priorities do change over time.

As I see it, the principal danger of intervening in Syria is that it risks a wider war since both Iran and Russia support the Assad regime. Recently there was a change in leadership in Iran. I think that now may be a good time to improve relations with Iran. Attacking Syria now would destroy that chance for many years to come. Therefore, I oppose military intervention in Syria at this time unless it is a multi-national effort sanctioned by the UN.