Annual Luncheon-Gen. Anthony Zinni Urges Annual Luncheon Attendees to Think Globally

By Clayton, Susan L. | Corrections Today, April 2005 | Go to article overview

Annual Luncheon-Gen. Anthony Zinni Urges Annual Luncheon Attendees to Think Globally


Clayton, Susan L., Corrections Today


During the 2005 Winter Conference Annual Luncheon, former U.S. Marine Corps commander in chief, U.S. Central Command, Gen. Anthony Zinni gave the keynote address. Zinni has held numerous command and staff assignments that include platoon, company, battalion, regimental, Marine expeditionary unit and Marine expeditionary force command.

Zinni told attendees that he is impressed with ACA's mission and the corrections field. "I'm impressed with what you see as your responsibility, that it's not only the protection of society, not only the administration of justice, it's the respect and dignity of the individual." He noted that ACA looks to the future, much like he believes we as a country need to do.

"We have a very different world out there now," Zinni said, compared with previous decades. He said that he is a product of a system that was created, shaped and born at the end of World War II. "All of us in the room are products of that. It was the greatest moment in our history." Zinni said that the United States was attacked and fought until unconditional surrender, which is what he believes the country must do in the war on terror. He pointed out that we as a nation helped to rebuild the countries of those we had defeated by bringing them democracies and free market economies. "We helped stabilize parts of the world that had been warring and fighting for centuries," Zinni said.

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The United States was able to stand up to communism and be a model for the rest of the world. He told attendees that he was there when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and how over-whelming it was. "When we went out and knocked off chips of the wall, I thought, ... something remarkable has changed, and I wondered if we understood this change," Zinni said. "I wondered if we understood what this meant for the world; I'm convinced now, almost 16 years later, we didn't understand it at the moment."

Zinni said that America then expected a new world order. However, Zinni said that did not happen. "The world started to come apart. We had Saddam Hussein, a war in Iraq. We went through the Somalias, the Haitis, the Bosnias, the Kosovos, the East Timors and with the demands placed on us, that new world order certainly wasn't going to be what we expected."

When Zinni returned home after many years overseas, he saw more evidence that things had changed. "Our economy was now global," he said. "Multinational corporations have spread across the world." Zinni also said that he began to watch technology change as well, particularly information technology.

Zinni expressed the difficulty he has had in understanding the type of war America is now fighting on terrorism. He noted that many religions that have the same foundations have suddenly found themselves at odds and are using religion as the basis for war instead of for understanding and peace. During the past 16 years, Zinni has been in almost every part of the world trying to negotiate peace. He said that sometimes Americans are too critical of themselves and their own leaders. "We say they should have known, they should have seen it coming, they should have had the right policy, they should have taken the right action at the right moment," Zinni said. Most people, according to Zinni, have no idea how difficult it is to make those critical decisions.

"No matter how bad things look, I am an optimist," Zinni said, adding, "I think the good will prevail out there." He noted that people need to look at all of the good that is being done by the United States in other parts of the world, such as saving lives and rebuilding societies. "Our nation goes places and does things that no nation in this world ever could in the history of the world." Zinni acknowledged that the United States does some things well and others not so well, but that the country does get a lot of credit for trying.

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