Wes Clark on the Iraq War

June 18, 2007

“We have to find the right way to back out of this”

Filed under: Budget, Diplomacy, Interviews, Military Force, Occupation, Strategy, Withdrawal — faithinwes @ 3:26 pm

Ed Schultz radio show 6/18/07

Ed Schultz: General Wesley Clark here on the Ed Schultz Show. The website is securingamerica.com. General Clark, if things won’t improve by September, this means that the Congress is going to have to go back and fund, continually fund these operations. Is that correct?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think even if it does improve in September, the Congress is going to continue to have to fund the operations.

Ed Schultz: We’re going to have this vote all over again then. Aren’t we?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: We’re going to have this vote for the next few years unless something catastrophic happens that causes us to reconsider and pull the plug on the whole operation.

Ed Schultz: If we were to do that, pull the plug on the whole operation, what’s your prediction as to what would happen, General Clark?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: We’d, um, we, we’d have a hard time disengaging from the region, Ed. We’ve got security responsibilities to the Gulf States. We’ve got Security interests with Israel. We’ve got friends in Lebanon. We’ve got many different issues that are effected by the outcome in Iraq. So, If we pull the plug on the operation, you could probably physically remove the troops in six to eight months in good order.

If you saw a larger war go, would you want to be back in? How ’bout if you saw Al Qaeda taking over provinces? How ’bout if you saw the collapse in the West Bank and aid flowing in through Syria from Iran and a corridor being cut across Iran, across Iraq by the Iranians to facilitate that, and you saw widespread deployment of, let’s say, Iranian Revolutionary Guards inside Iraq, would you want to be back in at that point? And so, I, there’s so many unpredictables in this that I’m one of those who’s counseled against just getting frustrated and pulling the plug.

I wouldnt’ve gone in in the first place. It was a huge strategic mistake. We have to find the right way to back out of this.

Ed Schultz: And doing that is almost impossible in your opinion. So, we’re, we’re in it, and we got to make the best of it somehow. And the best thing we can have happen is for the Iraqis to a-accept what’s going on governmentally and get involved in the process and, and Americans are feeling like that’s a pipe dream at this point. How could we have gotten all of this so wrong? And I’m just hearing you, General, say that, you know, we’re so, we’re into this so thick it- there are just few options that we have at this point.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: And with each succeeding month, the options diminish. The people that we could talk to on the ground in Iraq are compromised. The leverage that we hold over Iran erodes. The strength of the Israeli position weakens. With each successive month, we’ve been getting weaker. Now, the Saudis put in a good strategic effort over the last eight months to try to salvage this. It hasn’t worked.

Ed Schultz: What about arming Sunni insurgents to fight Al Qaeda? Is that a good idea?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, that’s one of the issues, and certainly if we can strengthen localities inside Iraq, and if we can be sure they’re actually fighting Al Qaeda, that’s a good thing. But what if, in doing that, they’re bringing Al Qaeda in and not simply strengthening the resistance to Al Qaeda? That’s what we don’t know about. Apparently, some of the weapons that were-, I’m told that some of the weapons that ended up in the refugee camps in Lebanon, that the Lebanese Army’s been fighting against, because the weapons were being used by Al Qaeda in Lebanon, those weapons were paid for as part of the Saudi initiative to arm the Sunnis to fight against Iran.

Ed Schultz: What a mess. What an absolute mess.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It is a mess. It’s a really difficult set of issues.

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