The general who commanded U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War says he hasn’t seen enough evidence to convince him that his old comrades Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz are correct in moving toward a new war now. He thinks U.N. inspections are still the proper course to follow. He’s worried about the cockiness of the U.S. war plan, and even more by the potential human and financial costs of occupying Iraq.
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“The thought of Saddam Hussein with a sophisticated nuclear capability is a frightening thought, okay?” he says. “Now, having said that, I don’t know what intelligence the U.S. government has. And before I can just stand up and say, ‘Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we need to invade Iraq,’ I guess I would like to have better information.”
He hasn’t seen that yet, and so in sharp contrast to the Bush administration he supports letting the U.N. weapons inspectors drive the timetable: “I think it is very important for us to wait and see what the inspectors come up with, and hopefully they come up with something conclusive.”
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“The Rumsfeld thing . . . that’s what comes up,” when he calls old Army friends in the Pentagon, he says.
“When he makes his comments, it appears that he disregards the Army,” Schwarzkopf says. “He gives the perception when he’s on TV that he is the guy driving the train and everybody else better fall in line behind him or else.”
That dismissive posture bothers Schwarzkopf because he thinks Rumsfeld and the people around him lack the background to make sound military judgments by themselves. He prefers the way Cheney operated during the Gulf War. “He didn’t put himself in the position of being the decision-maker as far as tactics were concerned, as far as troop deployments, as far as missions were concerned.”
Rumsfeld, by contrast, worries him. “It’s scary, okay?” he says. “Let’s face it: There are guys at the Pentagon who have been involved in operational planning for their entire lives, okay? . . . And for this wisdom, acquired during many operations, wars, schools, for that just to be ignored, and in its place have somebody who doesn’t have any of that training, is of concern.”