Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a former distinguished lecturer in residence at the Sanford Institute, has been part of a tossing game with the Obama administration, The Washington Times reported today. National Security Advisor James Jones had offered Zinni the role of ambassador to Iraq, which Zinni accepted two weeks ago and even received a congratulatory call from President Obama, according to Foreign Policy's "The Cable."
But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called him into a meeting Monday asking for his views on Iraq, and the news following the meeting was surprising for Zinni:
"To make a long story short, I kept getting blown off all week," Zinni said. "Meantime, I was rushing to put my personal things in order," to get ready to go.
"Finally, nobody was telling me anything," Zinni said. "I called Jones Monday several times. I finally got through late in evening. I asked Jones, ‘What's going on?' And Jones said, ‘We decided on Chris Hill.'"
"I said, 'Really,'" Zinni recalled. "That was news to me."
Politico.com had predicted last year that Zinni would be considered for national security advisor, but Jones was the pick for the post and ended up delivering the recent bad news to Zinni. A senior official speculated on issues of conflicting interests and the fact that another general, Karl Eikenberry, had already been named ambassador to Afghanistan. Chris Hill, on the other hand, does not have such military connections but rather experience as assistant secretary of state. The Washington Post said he was an "unexpected choice" for ambassador to Iraq.
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