CLARK EMERGING AS AN OPPONENT OF REAGANISM
General Wesley Clark, the late entry into the race for the Democratic nomination for president, is making what critics called a “bizarre,” “crackpot” attack on a small Washington policy organization and on a citizens group that helped America win the Cold War.
In a Tuesday interview with Joshua Micah Marshall posted yesterday on the Web site talkingpointsmemo.com, General Clark gave his evaluation of the Clinton presidency. He said that the Clinton administration,“in an odd replay of the Carter administration, found itself chained to the Iraqi policy — promoted by the Project for a New American Century — much the same way that in the Carter administration some of the same people formed the Committee on the Present Danger which cut out from the Carter administration the ability to move forward on SALT II.”
The Project for a New American Century is a Washington-based nonprofit organization whose chairman is William Kristol and that advocates a “Reaganite” foreign policy of “military strength and moral clarity.” The Committee on the Present Danger was a bipartisan group created to defeat the Salt II arms control agreement between America and the Soviet Union.
The comments are a departure from General Clark’s statements so far during his two-week-old presidential campaign, which have been for the most part been vague and carefully stagemanaged. He’s running strong in national polls, and a New York state poll released yesterday by Quinnipiac University showed General Clark leading the pack of declared Democratic candidates, with 18% support. The poll, of 454 registered Democratic voters, had a 4.6% margin of error.The poll showed General Clark beating President Bush in New York State, 48% to 41%. For that match-up, the poll included 1,201 New York State registered voters, with a 2.8% margin of error.
Relatively few American voters have even heard of the Project for a New American Century or remember the Committee on the Present Danger, so the flap is unlikely to sway many votes immediately. But if the interview contributes to a sense of General Clark as something of a loose cannon, that might have an effect on voters seeking a steady leader to guide the nation in the war against terrorism.
“It’s really a little bit crackpot. I don’t think Clinton was really following the PNAC script,” Mr. Kristol told The New York Sun. “We called for regime change. Last I looked, Saddam was still there when Clinton left.”
“Maybe he got confused,” Mr. Kristol said. He said he was further puzzled by the comments because after the war in Kosovo,he had a “very nice dinner”with General Clark in which the general thanked him for his support of the NATO bombing in Kosovo.
A director of the Project for a New American Century, Randy Scheunemann, called General Clark’s comments “bizarre.”
New York Sun October 2, 2003