- Andrew Hood
- "If I was Saddam, I'd be very careful about leaving a smoking gun around." -- Norman Schwarzkopf
This southwestern Colorado ski resort is a long way from the front lines of the war on terrorism, but that's just fine for retired Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Schwarzkopf's neighbors include Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey and the four-star general is more content to terrorize ski slopes or the local trout population than terrorists hiding in caves.
These days Schwarzkopf, who's owned a home in Telluride since retiring in 1991 after serving as commander of operations in Desert Storm, is happy to leave the fighting to someone else.
"They're doing a great job. They don't need my help," he said. "The people over there running the thing now are people that served under me and I have great confidence in them."
A decade ago, Stormin' Norman brought Saddam Hussein to his knees in the Persian Gulf War and rocketed to folk-hero status during his high-profile command. These days, the 66-year-old works as a news analyst for NBC and gives speeches on the lucrative lecture circuit.
"I never second-guess the guys in the field because I've been there and I know what they're up against and how tough a job it is," Schwarzkopf said during an interview with the Independent after the opening of Telluride ski area's new Prospect Bowl ski terrain last weekend.
Schwarzkopf, who says he's had no official dialogue with U.S. government or military officials since the war started in Afghanistan, cautions against hawks calling for the United States to take the war on terrorism to Iraq.
"These Arab countries are supporting us and they're part of the coalition. We don't want to lose them by capriciously attacking Iraq," he said. "But if I was Saddam, I'd be very careful about leaving a smoking gun around."
Schwarzkopf also criticized arm-chair generals and hard-liners who are screaming about expanding the war beyond Afghanistan.
"That totally disregards the sensitivities of that part of the world. It's a very, very complicated part of the world. It's not that simple.
"The interesting thing is that the ones that are saying we should go after Saddam are not the ones who would have to get shot at. They're not the ones that are going to be killed and they're not the ones that are going to be leaving behind their families."
Some observers also criticized U.S. policy in 1991 when coalition forces stopped short of attacking Baghdad after Iraqi forces were forced out of Kuwait, but Schwarzkopf maintains the United States did the right thing.
"The coalition would have fallen apart completely if we had gone in unilaterally or with the Brits and attacked Baghdad," he said. "The United Nations never told us to invade Iraq or to run the whole country, so we accomplished what we were supposed to."
The general, who survived a battle with prostate cancer in 1994, scoffed at worries that Americans could lose their civil liberties under new stringent anti-terrorism laws.
"I find it ludicrous about giving people their fair rights who aren't even citizens of the United States, who are doing everything they can to destroy the United States, and then we have to say the laws of the United States protect them. I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America, but come on. You have to draw the line some place and we have to make some changes in this country, otherwise we'll continue to be in great danger."