Home / A conversation with General Anthony Zinni: Nightline Thurs.

A conversation with General Anthony Zinni: Nightline Thurs.

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Nightline Daily E-Mail
September 25, 2003

TONIGHT’S SUBJECT: He has tried to help solve some of the most difficult foreign policy problems this country has faced, and refused to be paid for his work. And all that after rising to the rank of four-star general in the Marines. An interview with retired General Anthony Zinni tonight.


Most recently, he served as President Bush’s special envoy to the Middle East, trying to mediate between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in college, and joined full-time when he graduated. After serving in Vietnam, he went on to become head of the U.S.Central Command, which has authority over all military operations in the Middle East. He retired from the military in June of 2000, but did not want to leave public service. When he was appointed as special envoy, he insisted that he not be paid, he didn’t want anyone to think that he was in it for any reason other than to try to solve the conflict.

He is a fascinating person, and worth listening to in any case. But what he has to say is more relevant today than ever. In a recent speech, he said that “we tend to defeat the enemy in battle, we tend not to win the wars lately.” He pointed out that “there’s a difference between winning battles, or defeating the enemy in battle, and winning the war. And I think the first question we have to ask ourselves is why is that happening and what is the military’s role then, in taking it beyond just defeating the enemy in battle?”

Those are the very questions that this nation is clearly wrestling with in Iraq and around the world these days. So Ted will sit down with General Zinni tonight in what we believe is one of his first interviews. What he has to say is important, and we would do well to pay attention.

One other note today. We woke up to word that the building that our colleagues at NBC were using as their headquarters in Baghdad was bombed overnight. A Somali desk clerk, who had the misfortune to be taking a nap in the wrong place at the wrong time, was killed, and a number of NBC employees were injured. Now obviously no one life is worth more than another. American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are paying a high toll almost every day. But I just want to remind all of you that when you watch the news, when you see the reports from Iraq or other places, that I would ask that every now and then you remind yourself that the people doing those reports, whether you like them or not, whether you think they are fair and accurate or not, those journalists are doing their work at great risk, and that, if nothing else, is worth our respect.

Leroy Sievers and the Nightline Staff
Nightline Offices
Washington, D.C.

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