Zinni, speaking on "Meet the Press," told host Tim Russert that he believed the administration was guilty of "tremendous underestimating" what the United States would be up against in going to war in Iraq.
"Those of us that know this region and been involved in the planning knew that this was a fragile society; that if we did not intervene in a way to gain control, the borders, the population, you could cause all sorts of internal issues to erupt into the kind of violence we saw," said Zinni, the former special envoy to the Middle East and author of "The Battle for Peace."
"I mean, we did not prepare ourselves for this intervention, we threw away decades' worth of planning and understanding of the situation, we discounted those that warned that the assumptions were too optimistic, and we have the results we have now."
Zinni said that the administration, in it's zeal to make a dramatic change in the U.S. approach to the region, expected the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to produce a drive for democracy in the Mideast. "Unfortunately, I think this was the wrong place at the wrong time, and the philosophy, or the theory, behind this change," he said.