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.

June 13, 2007

Clark slams Lieberman on Iran

Filed under: Diplomacy, Iran — faithinwes @ 3:36 pm

UPI | June 13, 2007

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., June 13 (UPI) — Retired Gen. Wesley Clark has slammed Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., for threatening military force against Iran.

Clark, the former Supreme Allied NATO Commander and chair of the Board of Advisers of VoteVets.org, Monday said in a statement that Lieberman, the former Democratic candidate for vice president in the 2000 presidential election, had been irresponsible in saying Sunday that such action against Iran might be necessary.

“Sen. Lieberman’s saber rattling does nothing to help dissuade Iran from aiding Shiite militias in Iraq, or trying to obtain nuclear capabilities. In fact, it’s highly irresponsible and counter-productive, and I would urge him to stop,” Clark said.

“This kind of rhetoric is irresponsible and only plays into the hands of (Iranian) President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad and those who seek an excuse for military action,” the retired four-star general said.

“What we need now is full-fledged engagement with Iran,” he said. “All options are on the table, but we should be striving to bridge the gulf of almost 30 years of hostility before, and only when all else fails should there be any consideration of other options.”

“Only someone who never wore the uniform or thought seriously about national security would make threats at this point,” Clark said. “What our soldiers need is responsible strategy, not a further escalation of tensions in the region. Sen. Lieberman has to act much more responsibly and tone down his threat machine.”

In his comments, Lieberman said, “If (the Iranians) don’t play by the rules, we’ve got to use our force, and to me, that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they’re doing.”

March 27, 2007

Wes Clark on “Averting the Next Gulf War”

Filed under: Diplomacy, Iran, Occupation, OpEds, Strategy — faithinwes @ 5:19 pm

The troop “surge” in Iraq is also a signal to Iran—but stopping Tehran’s nukes for good will require a different kind of leverage.

-snip

In essence, the policy issues come down to a debate over leverage—how much and what type of leverage is required for Iran to dismantle and bar the resumption of any nuclear weapons programs. The administration would argue that it currently lacks leverage, and so must continue to apply pressure and use indirect dialogue—that the Iranians are stubborn, only understand the use of force, can’t be given the impression that they are winning, and so forth. The administration seems to consider “sticks” the only form of leverage. But the truth is that the Iranians have survived almost thirty years of isolation, hostility, and war. The U.S. intervention in Iraq probably altered permanently the sectarian balance of power in the region in Iran’s favor. And whether our allies in the region appreciate Iran or not, its population of nearly 70 million people, enormous wealth of resources, and strong heritage make it a significant power. A policy of sticks alone is unlikely to persuade Iran to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The administration’s dogged pursuit of leverage by sticks, unfortunately, is too much a holdover of the tough-guy, new-sheriff attitude that landed us in the Iraq mess. But another kind of leverage—carrots—could succeed. The United States is the largest economic power in the world, and has control, or very near controlling influence, over almost every international institution of significance to the Iranians. I believe we can gain far more from Iran by dispensing some carrots—and can also apply the sticks more effectively—if we are in face-to-face dialogue. Dangling some carrots now in an unconditional dialogue with Tehran while the surge in Baghdad is only beginning could prove decisive.

What can Congress do to help? First, push the administration to support Iraq with the nonmilitary resources that are essential to progress there. Congress should hold immediate hearings to investigate why the nonmilitary elements of the administration’s strategy have failed so badly, and why the appropriate resources cannot be brought to bear. Second, add pressure on al-Maliki to convince him to take the tough measures required to settle the issues of oil revenues, federalism, and the militias. Congress should strengthen its efforts to investigate corruption inside the economic-development program, and demand stronger accounting for the Iraqi government’s and leaders’ relationships with Iran. And third, demand that the Bush administration commence an unconditional dialogue with the regional powers and each of Iraq’s neighbors immediately. This is the next sense-of-the-Congress resolution that is required.

For the United States, the possible use of force against Iran must remain on the table. But military conflict is not inevitable, and neither is Iranian nuclear weaponry. It is a matter of strategy and leadership. It’s time for the United States to stop isolating those it disagrees with, pretending that other nations have more influence, asking others to carry the burden of dialogue, and leaving our soldiers in Iraq to struggle without an adequate diplomatic strategy to reinforce their efforts. The evidence of the administration’s lack of diplomatic leadership is evident in the new agreement with North Korea, which could have been reached four years ago before the North Koreans acquired fuel for additional nuclear weapons. We cannot afford more delays with Iran while we pursue a misplaced strategy. Congress and the American people should demand that the administration step forward and lead.

By Wesley Clark | Washington Monthly, April 2007

November 21, 2006

Next move in Iraq?

Filed under: Diplomacy, Occupation, Oil, OpEds — faithinwes @ 10:01 pm

Americans want a new approach. Withdrawal? A bad idea. Partitioning? Won’t work. The right approach is one that addresses U.S. interests in the entire region.

By Wesley Clark

The mission in Iraq is spiraling into failure. American voters have sent a clear message: Bring our troops home, but don’t lose. That’s a tall order both for resurgent Democrats, some of whom are calling for a quick withdrawal, and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is presumably crafting new options.

Instead of cutting and running or staying the course, it is time for us to begin to redeploy. But how can we do this and improve our prospects for success?

First, we have to think past Iraq and above partisan politics, folding actions in Iraq into a strategy to protect broader U.S. interests throughout the region.

Neither the Bush administration’s latest pronouncements nor the current political dialogue has adequately engaged these vital interests. The calamity in Iraq has hogtied the Bush administration, inviting disarray, if not instability, in neighboring countries that also require our attention.

U.S. interests include dissuading Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons and its hegemonic aspirations, providing security assurances for the rapidly developing Arab Gulf states and working with our friends in the Middle East to ensure access to oil resources and regional stability. (more…)

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