Wes Clark on the Iraq War

January 22, 2007

Just War Theory

Filed under: Legitimacy, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), speeches, Strategy — faithinwes @ 3:53 pm

Delivered at UCLA, Burkle Center for International Relations, January 22, 2007

Thank you very much for that- Thank you very much for that warm welcome, and thank you very much Dean Schill for your kind introduction and the opportunity to speak here. Now, someone asked me when I was coming up here today was I going to announce for the Presidency. (laughter) The answer’s no. I haven’t ruled out something like that, but I’m not here today in a political purpose. If you want to see the latest, go to my website http://www.securingamerica.com . You can see the speech I gave in Alabama last Monday, and it will- that, that’s the Political side. I’m not here to talk politics.

I’m really here in an academic setting, in a policy setting and a legal setting, because I think that war and law are two critically important regimes of study and practice in The United States of America, and it’s very difficult to find people who really do the crosswalk well. And yet, the failure to do the crosswalk can lead to enormous policy failures.

So, what I’d like to do today is talk about legitimacy, legality and public support in warfare, and I’d like to talk about it – if you’ll permit me to do so – as a scholar, as an academician, as a practitioner but not as a- someone who ran for office or someone who might run for office. So, I’d like to just set aside partisanship. There’s no partisanship in this. I just want to give you my best judgment from my various fields of experience, and it doesn’t matter to me whether you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent or- it, it just doesn’t matter. This is about our country and about our world, not about partisan politics.

I think we’re at an inflection point in American history. This is one of those moments where so much will depend on the outcome, the decisions, the choices made by our government in the weeks ahead. America’s Army is in a crisis. We’re bogged down in a failing war in Iraq. We’re- the President said we’re going to put 20,000 more troops in, but that’s a really hard stretch. No one wants to go to the draft, and yet recruiting’s been difficult in this environment. The Iraq Study Group called for a drawdown, but the Iraq Study Group was taken by many as an admission of failure. It’s driven our Sunni allies in the, allies in the region into despair, and it’s made Iran even more triumphalist than it had already been, and it’s recognition that Al Qaeda is more numerous, increasingly diffused, and still very much lethal. Congress is preparing to vote against and block the President’s policy of surging more troops into Iraq. If they succeed in doing that, then we’re into a different period.

It’s a moment of signal importance. It’s the first real check on the President’s foreign policy by Congress. For the region, it’s a shock as the U.S. is seriously considering a straight run of Neoconservative policies in the region, which saw the invasion of Iraq as the first step in knocking off regimes in the region – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Libya, Somalia, Sudan – and a complete reordering of the Middle East, and that’s clearly not likely to happen on the current course of action.

And globally, we’re at a moment where U.S. prestige and power are hanging in the balance. What’s happened to this United States of America since the 11th of September of 2001 when 200,000 Germans demonstrated at the Brandenburger Gate, when people all over the world came out and supported us? What’s happened? (more…)

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