Wes Clark on the Iraq War

May 2, 2006

“I went to several Senators, including I think a couple who later ran for office”

Al Franken: And it’s, it’s one thing for somebody who voted for this war saying, you know, ‘You have to assume the President’s telling the truth. You can’t assume a President is lying.’ But then on the other hand, the American people want someone who’s a better BS detector than they are. And, and you know, I think I would have voted for the use of force, because I would’ve believed, I believed Colin Powell. I didn’t have any reason to think that I couldn’t believe Colin Powell. I didn’t have a reason to believe that the administration would be misleading us, and they did.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I didn’t, I didn’t believe it because I went through the Pentagon a few days after 9/11, and the Generals in the Pentagon told me, “Hey sir,” they said, “ These guys have made the decision to invade Iraq.”

Al Franken: Right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: This was like, the 20th of September. I said, “They have.” He said, “Oh, yes sir. They’ve already decided.” I went back a couple of months later, and said, “Are they still going to invade Iraq?” This is like, November. Said, “Oh, yes sir. In fact there’s even a plan to- After they finish with Iraq, they’re going to take on Syria and Lebanon. Eventually they’re going to end up in Iran.” This is a whole five-year campaign plan to go from country to country kicking out dictators and taking over and imposing Democracy.

Al Franken: Now I know you’re a Four-Star General, and, and so the guys at the Pentagon would say, “Sir, they’re planning (laughs) to invade Iraq. But how did, how did the Senators on the Intelligence Committee not hear that?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, a lot of them did, because I told a lot of them.

Al Franken: Uh huh. And, and, and did, did they believe you. I mean non-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: They may have believed me, but you know, there’s a lot of different shades of truth in Washington. And it’s, I mean, I told people about the five-year plan, and people would say, ‘Well you know, yeah, there may be somebody who wrote that, but maybe they won’t do that.’

Al Franken: Right, right, right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘You know, we’ve got politics to worry about. Can we afford to be on the wrong side of President Bush on this.

Al Franken: Mm hm.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: He’s going to turn the American people against us. Look what happened in 1990.’

Al Franken: Okay, but that’s not, that’s. I understand why. Yeah, anybody who voted against the first Gulf War was, was, was not considered to be on the ticket.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Exactly.

Al Franken: For example.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Exactly.

Al Franken: And so that’s, that can- But that’s not leadership. Is it?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well you know, when you’re in politics, especially if you’re a lifelong politician, you have to make sure you’re also representing the people who follow you. So, there’s a combination of leading and following that’s involved in that. Even the President is, to some extent, a representative of the American people. He’s certainly not the king. He doesn’t dictate. I know he said he’s the decider, but-

Al Franken: (laughs) Yeah.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But (laughs) in fact, he is supposed to be the Chief Executive Officer representing the American people.

Al Franken: Yeah, I, I, I know, I know, but I’m saying that these Senators- there is a certain point – and boy, at the point when you’re voting to go to war or not – and they didn’t- You know, in fairness I guess, they were told they were voting for peace. They, they were told they were voting so that, that we could go to the UN and, and make the convincing argument to the UN that we would be willing to go into Iraq unilaterally. Therefore, we would have the, the leverage to get the inspectors in.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
: Well, you know, I went to several Senators, including I think a couple who later ran for office, and, for the Presidency. I said, “Don’t believe him.” (laughs) “He’s made up his mind to go to war. Don’t give him a blank check.”

Al Franken: Mm Hm.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But they gave him a blank check. I said it on CNN, “You can’t give him a blank check.” And I said it in the testimony that you have to make sure that there’s a resolution. It’s got to be a broad resolution so we can go to the United Nations, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t be a blank check.

Al Franken Show/Air America 5/2/06

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