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The Generals Speak | The Nation

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The Generals Speak

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Recent remarks on Iraq by retired military officers, most with combat experience in the Persian Gulf.

About the Author

Mosi Secret
Mosi Secret is a Nation intern (fall 2002).
Elizabeth L. Cline
Elizabeth L. Cline is a Nation intern (fall 2002).

"There are people in this city that believe that the military campaign against Iraq will not be difficult, especially because of the enormous advances in technology and the willingness of some groups in Iraq to revolt once the campaign has begun. I am not as certain that a campaign of this nature will take this course. I certainly hope so.... The nightmare scenario is that six Iraqi Republican Guard divisions and six heavy divisions, reinforced with several thousand anti-aircraft artillery pieces, defend the city of Baghdad. The result would be high casualties on both sides, as well as in the civilian community."

--Gen. Joseph Hoar,
Senate Armed Services Committee, September 23

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"Well, first of all, you have to understand that the Iraqi military is 400,000 active-duty people. Probably 300,000 of them you can discount, but you can't discount the 100,000 Republican Guard and Palace Guard. And not only are they a good military force, but they also have a lot of good equipment behind them. They're going to have over 8,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers, a large amount of artillery. It's not going to be an easy battle. And certainly I think that we will prevail, but I think it would be much more effective if we didn't have to do it alone.... During the Gulf War we had an international force. We had troops from many, many different nations involved, and that gave us a great deal of strength. I think that we would be lacking if we went alone at this time."

--Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf,
Meet the Press, August 18

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"The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive...and could as well be bloody. In fact, Saddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses."

--Gen. Brent Scowcroft,
Wall Street Journal, August 15

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"It's a question of what's the sense of urgency here.... There is nothing that indicates that in the immediate, next hours, next days, that there's going to be nuclear-tipped missiles put on launch pads to go against our forces or our allies in the region."

--Gen. Wesley Clark,
Senate Armed Services Committee, September 23

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"Attacking Iraq now will cause a lot of problems.... It might be interesting to wonder why all the generals see it the same way, and all those that never fired a shot in anger and are really hellbent to go to war see it a different way. That's usually the way it is in history."

--Gen. Anthony Zinni,
Speech to Economic Club of Florida, August 23

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