Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose


About the Author:
General Tony Zinni was Commander in Chief of CENTCOM and special envoy to the Middle East

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About the Author:
General Tony Zinni was Commander in Chief of CENTCOM and special envoy to the Middle East

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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
The Battle for Peace feels, in the end, less like a full-scale analysis than a warning, a warning that deserves serious consideration, given General Zinni's Cassandra-like foresight on matters like Iraq.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The intellectual complement to Zinni and Clancy's bestselling Battle Ready (2004), a narrative memoir salted with specific policy recommendations, this volume provides the former U.S. Central Command chief's analysis of America's current global position. Zinni begins by asserting that America's status as "the most powerful nation in the history of the planet" has created a de facto empire. The U.S. has no choice: if it fails to take the lead, nothing significant happens. At the same time, Americans must recognize that, in a global age, there can be no zero-sum games: when someone loses, no one wins in any but the shortest term, he argues. The bulk of the book critiques what Zinni describes as the current U.S. emphasis on unilateral action and calls instead for working with others toward the goals of worldwide stability and development. "[N]egotiation, mediation and facilitation" should be our favored approaches, Zinni writes. And the post-Cold War pattern of ad hoc improvisation in foreign affairs should give way to systematic, in-depth planning. While fans of Battle Ready may grow frustrated with the abstractions in this volume, Zinni's pragmatic, low-key approach merits serious consideration. (Apr. 4) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With the ongoing war in Iraq, we see no shortage of books about U.S. foreign policy and the problems the United States is encountering abroad. Here, Zinni (former commander in chief, U.S. Central Command) and Koltz (coauthor with Zinni and Tom Clancy, Battle Ready) offer Zinni's informed appraisal of the current failings of American policy, followed by his blueprint for change. Drawing heavily from his experiences as a commander and peacekeeper in Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan, Zinni argues that the world has changed significantly since the end of the Cold War and that America's foreign policy has not adjusted to meet the new realities. Zinni favors regional coalitions and increased cooperation among various government and nongovernmental organizations (e.g., the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders) to stabilize America's foreign policy in action. He provides a clear analysis and plan for the future of America that challenges all-policy wonks, soldiers, and citizens alike-to rethink how we use our power to influence the global community. Recommended for public libraries and all foreign policy collections. (Foreword by Tom Clancy not seen.)-Michael C. Miller, Dallas P.L. Psychology Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Retired Marine Corps general Zinni warns of the dangers of spending time in the so-called Arc of Instability-precisely the area where America's course of empire-building has led. It's a time of unintended consequences; battling terrorism produces police statism, insisting on good intentions makes enemies. Zinni (with Koltz, both of them two-time co-authors with Tom Clancy) allows, with admirable candor, that "we are an empire," though, he adds, it is one not of conquest but of influence. Zinni looks at some of the ways in which that influence, which exists side-by-side with an arrogant refusal to learn anything of the world beyond America's borders, sometimes turns out to be a less than good thing; though he's no Smedley Butler, for instance, he wonders whether giving free rein to multinational, indeed transnational, corporations is really wise in a time when state sovereignty is threatened and so much of the world is getting poorer. Zinni offers a blend of anecdote, memoir and policy wonkery to deliver a message that might be distilled thus: If you act in the world, act well, for you must live with the consequences-and, in what strategists call the Zone of Conflict, to live with them for a very long time. Throughout, Zinni clearly disapproves of the Bush administration's unilateralism, and heading his list of prescriptions for building a better world is the care and feeding of international alliances. The real enemy, he concludes, is not insurgent Islam or terrorism but instability, which is just the sort of thing that nation-building and international aid can combat; though "it doesn't take much for unstable societies to fall over the edge," Zinni observes, optimistically, "it doesn'ttake much to keep most of those societies from falling over the edge." The details are a little sketchy. Still, it's worth pondering the well-traveled, culturally aware general's program for restoring at least some of America's good name in the world. Refreshingly contrarian, and perfectly commonsensical. First printing of 100,000
From the Publisher
New York Times Bestseller!


"...A warning that deserves serious consideration." — New York Times


"Zinni is an interesting man, and he has a lot of interesting things to say about the dangers of pursuing our current course in foreign policy. He is a distinctly non-ideological man in an era when ideology is running rampant both home and abroad." — Michael Abramowitz, The Washington Post


"The intellectual complement to Zinni and Clancy's bestselling Battle Ready...This volume provides the former Cnetral Command chief's analysis of America's current global position...Zinni's pragmatic, low key approach merits serious condiseration."—Publishers Weekly

"Refreshingly contrarian, and perfectly commonsensical"—Kirkus Reviews


"[Zinni and Koltz] provide a clear analysis and plan for the future of America that challenges all—policy wonks, soldiers, and citizens alike—to rethink how we use our power to influence the global community."—Library Journal

"Provocative, insightful, and straight-from-the-shoulder blunt"— William S. Cohen, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1997-2001.

"Tony Zinni's writing is straightforward and to the point...a primer to guide us in the 21st century. Well done." —Richard L. Armitage, Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, 2001-2005

"sensible and deserve[s] wide support."—James Fallows, national correspondent of The Atlantic Monthly, author of National Defense.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403976628
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 428,452
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

General Tony Zinni (Ret.) was Commander in Chief of CENTCOM and special envoy to the Middle East. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline and Charlie Rose, among others. Tony Koltz co-authored Tom Clancy's Into the Storm and Battle Ready, with General Zinni.

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Read an Excerpt



Palgrave Macmillan

Copyright © 2006 Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4039-7174-9

Chapter One


I look forward to a great future for America-a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. -John F. Kennedy, 1963

America is great because she is good, but if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. -Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

The last assignment in my four-decade military career was to command the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), where I had responsibility for all military activities in a volatile area that included twenty-five countries-in East Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia. For many years this region has occupied the red-hot center of what is often called the Arc of Instability or the Zone of Conflict-a belt stretching around the midsection of the earth containing the world's most turbulent, troubled, and unstable nations. Over the years of my military career, and later as a diplomat and businessman, I have spent considerable time in nearly every nation in the Zone of Conflict; I have developed a deep personal interest in each of them; and I have made manyfriends and close personal connections in those nations. I know the area well.

Immediately after 9/11, I received a flood of letters, emails, and calls from friends all over the world expressing condolence, shock, and anger over the horrific acts of that day. But one Arab friend was more than just upset by the shocking terrorist attacks; he seemed intensely worried about something deeper. And that caught my attention.

"I understand your sadness and your compassion," I told him, as we talked on the phone. "That's obvious. But I'm very interested in what's bothering you beyond that."

"I'm worried that this tragedy could cause America to stop being America," he said.

I asked him to explain.

"You Americans don't know your power, your influence, and your goodness," he said. "Your anger and the retaliation you're about to take are justified. But in doing what you must do to respond to this evil, I hope, for the sake of the world, that you never lose sight of your values and your sense of justice in the actions that you take. The world needs you more than you realize."

My friend was telling me much more than the obvious-that we Americans don't know our own power and influence. He was telling me that we haven't really learned how to use them to get what we want or need; that we don't really know who we are, in the sense that we've had to struggle to work out our proper role in today's world; and that our role must include the moral dimension that has been essential to America's actions in the world since the days of the nation's founders. This does not mean that America has always acted well, only that the attempt to act well has consistently guided us. What he was saying is that America always sought to do right-and that both our friends and our enemies have seen that.

It's tough to operate within a set of principles when the other guy does not; but that has always been our strength.

But my friend was probing even deeper, implicitly asking powerful and hard questions about America's totally new and unprecedented situation after the end of the Cold War. America is now the last superpower standing, the most powerful nation in the history of the planet by staggering orders of magnitude, and is capable of projecting every dimension of power and influence anywhere on earth. The direction that all of the earth's peoples will take over the next century will largely be determined by the United States' choices.

We have to lead. We have no choice. We're the 800-pound gorilla in an eight-by-ten room. We may not like being in that position, and we may wish we didn't make everybody else in the room nervous-when we move, the whole room knows it. But we can't help being who we are; and we can't help it that hardly anything goes on in the room that we don't affect.

That is what I believe former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meant when she observed that the United States is "the indispensable nation." This was by no means an arrogant declaration; it was a statement of reality. We are the single nation that can make or break significant worldwide actions or international programs. People both inside and outside this country may not like this truth, but they know it's true. Everywhere I travel throughout the world, I get this from my friends: "Without you," they tell me, "we can't make it happen."

There will be no Middle East peace without United States participation in the peace process. There will be no global environmental policy without U.S. participation. There will be no global health policy. No global economic and trade policy. And without the United States, you can forget the United Nations.

The catch is, our choices are anything but clear. What does world leadership mean in the post-Cold War environment? Nobody knows. Nobody has been there before. There are no models.

Debates on this question have been fierce within the last three administrations ... and without resolution.

Are we the world's policeman: Are we an empire? How do we choose our priorities for acting in the world when we can't do everything? What are the limits of our power? What are the limits of our actions? What are the limits of our influence? What are the limits of our leadership? How much can we demand, and of whom? What freedoms and responsibilities does our supreme position give us that other First World players don't possess? How do we work with and within international organizations?

The very asking of these questions-and there are many others like them-indicates the extent of our confusion.


My answer to questions about America's role will make some Americans-and many non-Americans-uncomfortable: We are an empire, and empires have a nasty reputation. Yet no other word covers the preeminent position America has achieved in the world. That's what it means to be "the indispensable nation" the only nation whose power and influence are felt everywhere in the world. Never before in the history of humankind has a nation been in this position-the world's sole remaining empire, yet a very different breed of empire from all the other empires that have risen and collapsed over the course of history.

Traditionally, empires are born through military conquest, and military power provides the basis of their influence. Empires take over and administer territories; they send out troops to occupy them and oversee security; they send out governors and managers; they exploit natural resources and labor and extract the wealth of the occupied lands on behalf of the empire's core. They command and dictate.

That kind of empire is dead (though it could conceivably come alive again). America is not an empire of conquest and self-interest, though some accuse us of that ("All you Americans want is to grab Iraq's oil"); and the source of our influence goes way beyond our military power. Yet America is an empire that cannot command or dictate, and does not want to; it can only influence. It is not an empire of conquest; it's an empire of influence.

The President of the United States has announced to the world that the United States intends to make the world democratic; that we are going to make the world operate on market economies; that we will promote and protect human rights; and that we will use all elements of our power to make that happen.... In essence, we decide how you shape your society.

I don't know what to call a statement like that other than an imperial pronouncement.

I'm not saying our nation is wrong to set these goals. I like them. We obviously feel that the goals are right and good and morally correct. But they reflect our morals and beliefs.

That's imperialism. Not imperialism at the point of a bayonet, but imperialism achieved through the other dimensions of power-our unmatched ability to collect and disseminate information, our leadership in diplomacy, our vast resources, our social and cultural influence, our economic influence, our moral influence, and our military might.

These touch everyone in the world, sometimes directly and forcefully (we invaded Iraq and easily toppled the Saddam Hussein regime), sometimes more subtly. Everyone listens to American music. Everyone watches American movies. Everyone eats American food. Everyone wears American fashions. There's hardly anyone out there who does not look out at the world through American lenses. Even those who hate us perceive their world by reference to American culture, values, and power.

During my visits to the Middle East, people have kidded me, "Hey there's the American Cultural Center."

"The American Cultural Center?"

"McDonald's, Burger King, KFC."

And yet, for all our matchless power, capable of touching any point on the globe with every dimension of power-no other nation on the planet matches us in even one of those dimensions-we are not accomplishing the goals in the world that most matter to us: enhancing democracy and respect for human rights, giving people opportunities to improve their lives, and increasing the security and stability that are the necessary foundations for those happy outcomes. Often we don't know how to wield our power and influence; where to wield our power; or even the scope of our power. We would like a secure peace in the world. Yet we are unsure of the actions needed to achieve it.

The failure begins at home.


Our nation's leaders-skilled, experienced, dedicated people in three administrations-have struggled to adapt to the radical and dangerous worldwide seismic shift that followed the Cold War ... with success that's at best mixed.

The first Bush administration put together, under a UN resolution, the remarkable international coalition that fought the first Gulf War, and in doing so created an effective and lasting model for dealing with complex problems and crises. After the fall of the Soviet empire, the administration was forward-looking in its attempts (organized by Secretary of State James Baker and Ambassador Richard Armitage) to connect peacefully with the new nations that once made up the Soviet Union and to lead an international coalition aimed at launching a new Marshall Plan to help these nations get on their feet. Sadly, their grand dream died in the euphoria that followed the collapse of the Soviet military threat.

On the downside, the administration was naive in its assumptions about the changes brought on by the end of the Soviet threat. They didn't grasp the new world environment and accepted uncritically their own slogans proclaiming an automatic "New World Order" and a "Peace Dividend." After the euphoria died, we discovered that we had neither.

The Clinton administration's multilateral and multifaceted approach to world trouble-spots was an excellent initiative to reshape the world in a positive way, but the administration never came up with the energy, organization, or resources needed to match the words.

The second Bush administration has promoted a strong, noble, and positive sense of values-human rights, freedom, democracy-and is willing to commit energy and resources to this cause. Yet its aggressive, unilateral approach has alienated the international community and blocked the international cooperation necessary for achieving these goals. The clearest example of the second Bush administration's unilateral approach is the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But not far behind is their resistance and hostility to a number of treaties with broad international support.

Each of the three post-Cold War administrations has had real accomplishments. Yet, they have all failed

to fully grasp the meaning of the post-Cold War changes and to devise a coherent, integrated strategy for them; to see the signs of critical instability emerging from the post-Cold War environment or to grasp its underlying causes; to confront developing trouble until it has degenerated into a violent confrontation, that is, until it has turned into a crisis; to develop tools other than military force for managing the crisis (and when that hasn't proven practical, the crisis has been left to simmer-or grow worse); to implement, enforce, and sustain peace, order, and stability once the crisis appears to be settled; to commit the time and resources necessary to accomplish genuine reconstruction and restoration of a stable society-or to even seriously attempt it; and to reorganize our outdated governmental structure to better integrate the elements of power needed to deal with today's threats and requirements.

We have seen the effects of these failures again and again-in Afghanistan in the 1980s, in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, in Iraq and Afghanistan today, and in many simmering crises in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.

Why did our leaders fail? Because they were incompetent? Because they were foolish? Because they were blind?

Hardly. They failed primarily because they were working within a governmental system, organizational structure, and national strategy that had served admirably and successfully during the fifty years of Cold War but had not evolved to adapt to the changes that swept in after its collapse.

Critics have accused Presidents Clinton and Bush of failing to make the correct strategic decisions to stop Al Qaeda and perhaps prevent the 9/11 attacks. Such criticisms are unfair to both presidents. They depended on outdated organizations and systems that failed to sense the changes in the world and to present an integrated view of the threat and the necessary responses. As the 9/11 Commission reported, good men and women were working within an antiquated process.

Later, we had a war plan for Iraq but not a plan to reconstruct and win the peace. We had a military organization that could defeat the enemy but not an organization that could reconstruct the society.

Our nation has time and again confronted the disorder and crises that instabilities and conflicts produce. Yet we have been inconsistent and haphazard in how we have chosen to accomplish our goals-both in our basic principles and in subsequent actions.

Some of that is for good, practical reasons: "Here I can make a difference. Here I can't."

But some of it comes from our failure to engage in basic strategic thinking. The two world wars of the past century were followed by worldwide seismic shifts as powerful as the one that followed the Cold War. The lesson each time has been the same: the world cannot find peace and stability by sailing on its own rudderless course. There has to be a map, a direction, to guide us through the confusing and dangerous new world environment. We need an overarching strategy to deal coherently with threatening, unstable parts of the world ... a national security strategy that redefines our role in the new century, defines our goals, and shapes our national organizations to achieve those goals.

A new statement of national strategy will take into account the challenges presented by the reordered world that has followed the end of the Cold War.

It will derive from our strongly held values and principles, and from the level of security and well-being we want to ensure both for ourselves and for others-essentially peace, stability, and prosperity; it will take into account the availability of our resources and our strongly held priorities for using them; it will come with a new, comprehensive analysis of the environment that we're faced with-the challenges, the threats, the issues, the potential pitfalls; and it will redefine our role in the world-who we are, what we expect of ourselves, and what we're willing to do. The new strategy will acknowledge that we can't do everything. Some threats can at best be contained. Some we can't deal with at all. Some we must deal with.

Our starting point must be the actual condition of the world. What's out there?


Excerpted from THE BATTLE FOR PEACE by TONY ZINNI TONY KOLTZ Copyright © 2006 by Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Foreword   Tom Clancy     xiii
America's Power & Purpose     1
In the Foxhole     15
Beyond Checkpoint Charlie     35
The New Face of War     67
Colliding Worlds     97
Stovepipes     129
Strategy     143
From Strategy to Foxholes     155
On the Front Lines of Peace     177
The Battle for Peace     209
Afterword     227
Index     235
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  • Posted December 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer


    In this book The General and co-writer talk about the United State's power, abilities, influence, and status in the post Cold War era. He talks about his experiences as a soldier from Vietnam to the current Iraq War and his experiences as a diplomat. He talks about how politicians only look at the situation form their point of view and don't take into account what Zinni calls "The foxhole view" which is the views of the soldiers and commanders that are in the middle of the whole mess on the ground. I would recommend this book for politicians, military buffs/soldiers, historians, and anyone looking for a good research paper or discussion topic.

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