Zinni Urges Economic, Diplomatic Moves The Washington Post Sep 14, 2001 U.S. military action against Afghanistan and other countries in the region without accompanying economic and diplomatic moves would only make the battle against terrorism more difficult, retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, the former commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said yesterday. "You can't just go in and devastate a country," said Zinni, who as commander of the U.S. Central Command was one of the Pentagon's top authorities on the region. "A military approach that strikes and leaves will only perpetuate the problem" by inflaming anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world. Zinni, who retired in August 2000, commented in an interview as senior Pentagon officials said they were drawing up plans for a prolonged military campaign against suspected terrorists in response to Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington. The Bush administration says it has evidence linking the attacks to Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born militant who has been living in Afghanistan under protection of its Taliban government. Zinni said that any military action must be accompanied by a broad economic and diplomatic offensive aimed at drying up support for bin Laden and other terrorists. He said this should include action not only in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, Yemen, Europe and the United States. It would involve closing bank accounts, businesses, and front companies and groups known to the U.S. government to be linked to terrorist organizations as well as increased economic aid and military and intelligence contacts with countries such as Pakistan and Yemen. Zinni and the former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of chief, Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, now the U.S. commander in Europe, sustained the Pentagon's relationship with the Pakistani military following the 1998 coup there despite calls by the State Department and Congress that it be ended. Pakistan's cooperation has now become pivotal to the U.S. effort to mount a strike against Afghanistan. In his role as commander, Zinni led missile strikes against Iraq as well as strikes against Sudan and Afghanistan that were in response to terrorist attacks alleged to have been masterminded by bin Laden. During his tenure, Zinni publicly criticized the Clinton administration's support for Iraqi exile groups that said they could overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, an idea supported by many Republicans on Capitol Hill and by the new Bush administration. Unseating Hussein, he argued at the time, would create a destabilizing power vacuum in Iraq, which borders Iran, and would push the region into war. Likewise, he said yesterday, invading Afghanistan, Yemen or any other country in the region would lead to a long-term U.S. military occupation.