General Zinni and Ogles

Gen. Anthony Zinni (right) speaks with Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Ogles at reception

Photographer: George Mauzy

Gen. Zinni group

Gen. Zinni (center) speaks to students and Contemporary History Institute Chair Steven Miner

Photographer: George Mauzy

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Baker Peace Conference keynote discusses “The New World Order”

On Thursday evening, the annual Baker Peace Conference opened with a discussion from keynote speaker, retired Marine Corps. Gen. Anthony Zinni in front of a crowd of more than 200 people.

Zinni, who received his military commission in 1965 and officially retired in 2000, after commanding the U.S. Central Command, spoke about his personal experiences, before and after retirement. He offered context about the larger meaning of those experiences and how they reflected a new world order.

Many times, he said, private and public entities will see the signs that a state is failing or becoming incapable. Rather than address the signs, they often ignore the situation and allow it to worsen.

“There is an order to everything,” he said. “Eventually, some order will replace that chaos, and that order is not healthy.”

Zinni plumbed experiences from his time serving and working in Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq for examples of mismanagement and the evolving role of the United States military, a role he often finds inappropriate.

“How much can you be the world’s policeman and the world’s humanitarian?” Zinni asked.

After his lecture, Zinni took questions from the audience. The questions varied from the mismanagement of intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq, to the need to bring experts into failing states to help rebuild institutions.

“There was a time when we did this [bring in nation building experts]… but, by the end of the Cold War, we had become a one-punch fighter,” said Zinni.

The Baker Peace Conference concluded on Friday with three panel discussions that addressed failed states and societies, the future of war and development and human rights.

The Contemporary History Institute annually hosts the Baker Peace Conference as a means of exploring how peace can be established and maintained throughout the world. Established in 1984, the conference is funded by the John and Elizabeth Baker Peace Studies Endowment, which was established by the late Ohio University president emeritus and his wife.

For more information about the Baker Peace Conference, click here.