NEW YORK, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who led U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, says he never thought the U.S. could be out of Iraq in a year. Five years, he says, is a realistic timeline. "It takes time to solve problems when you're talking about 25 to 26 million people," Franks tells PARADE magazine for this Sunday's issue, noting that Iraq has to dig itself out of a "30-year hole." Franks, 59, who retired from the military in July 2003, had a lot to say in this exclusive interview with PARADE, his first national interview since leaving command: * The biggest surprise for him was that they've found no weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the "reason we went to war." He says multiple Middle Eastern leaders, including Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, told Franks that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In January 2003, Mubarak said point blank to Franks, "Saddam has WMD-biologicals, actually-and he will use them on your troops." * Franks and his warplanners expected 150,000 additional international troops to help with peacekeeping operations. They never materialized. * Franks singles out White House Counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke as never providing him with "a single page of actionable intelligence" and of engaging in mostly wishful thinking. Franks also believes the U.S. invested too much in electronic spy surveillance and not enough in spies. "We can't send a Princeton-educated New York lawyer to infiltrate al-Qaeda. To get information, we have to marry the devil or at least employ him. You have to deal." * Franks steered clear of Israel while he was a U.S. military commander and openly told Arab leaders that he was sympathetic to their issues. "For years," he tells PARADE, "I had told my Arab friends that I had 'no Israeli visa' in my passport. This was an unofficial way of letting them know that I understood their side of the story." * Franks was disappointed that the Iraqis initially chose looting and insurgency over pulling together to rehabilitate their country -- immediately coming out to guard museums, weapons depots, etc. * Franks describes contentious battles among the military service chiefs over his warplans for Afghanistan and how he told his civilian bosses in the Pentagon that he wanted "to be left the hell alone" to run the Iraq war. * Franks openly rebuts and takes issue with the long-standing "Powell doctrine" of over-whelming military force. Powell criticized Franks' warplans for Iraq, drawing his ire. * Franks believes the world is "far safer" without Saddam Hussein. Asked about Osama bin Laden, he says that, unlike Saddam, who was hated in Iraq, tens of thousands of Arab families would happily take Osama in as their hero. Franks believes Osama will be caught eventually, "even though we don't have enough sources on the ground." This Sunday's PARADE also features an adaptation from Gen. Franks' new book, American Soldier, to be published Aug. 3 by ReganBooks/HarperCollins.
SOURCE PARADE Magazine