Wes Clark on the Iraq War

October 3, 2002

Senator Wellstone: Iraq War Debate: October 3, 2002

Filed under: Iraq War Resolution (IWR), Terrorism — faithinwes @ 1:35 am

Regarding Military Action Against Iraq: October 3, 2002

Mr. President, as we turn later today to address our policy on Iraq, I want to take a few minutes to outline my views. The situation remains fluid, and Administration officials are engaged in negotiations at the United Nations over what approach we ought to take, with our allies, to disarm the brutal and dictatorial Iraqi regime.

Our debate here is critical because the administration seeks our authorization now for military action including possibly unprecedented, pre-emptive, go-it-alone military action in Iraq, even as it seeks to garner support from our allies on a tough new UN disarmament resolution.

Let me be clear: Saddam Hussein is a brutal, ruthless dictator who has repressed his own people, attacked his neighbors, and remains an international outlaw. The world would be a much better place if he were gone and the regime in Iraq were changed. That’s why the U.S. should unite the world against Saddam, and not allow him to unite forces against us.

A go-it-alone approach, allowing for a ground invasion of Iraq without the support of other countries, could give Saddam exactly that chance. A pre-emptive go-it-alone strategy towards Iraq is wrong. I oppose it.

I support ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction through unfettered U.N. inspections, which should begin as soon as possible. Only a broad coalition of nations, united to disarm Saddam, while preserving our war on terror, is likely to succeed. Our primary focus now must be on Iraq’s verifiable disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. This will help maintain international support, and could even eventually result in Saddam’s loss of power.

Of course, I would welcome this, as would most of our allies. The president has helped to direct intense new multilateral pressure on Saddam Hussein to allow U.N. and International Atomic Energy Agency weapons inspectors back in to Iraq to conduct their assessment of Iraq’s chemical, biological and nuclear programs. Saddam clearly has felt that heat, and it suggests what might be accomplished through collective action. I am not naive about this process, and much work lies ahead. But we cannot dismiss out-of-hand Saddam’s late and reluctant commitment to comply with U.N. disarmament arrangements, or the agreement struck Tuesday to begin to implement it. We should use the gathering international resolve to collectively confront his regime by building on these efforts through a new U.N. disarmament resolution.

This debate must include all Americans, because our decisions finally must have the informed consent of the American people, who will be asked to bear the costs, in blood and treasure, of our decisions. When the lives of the sons and daughters of average Americans could be risked and lost, their voices must be heard by Congress before we make decisions about military action.

Right now, despite a desire to support our president, I believe many Americans still have profound questions about the wisdom of relying too heavily on a pre-emptive, go-it-alone military approach. (more…)

September 9, 2002

Before Iraq: Strengthen allies, weaken al-Qaeda by Wesley K. Clark

As the Bush administration raises prospects of war with Iraq, USA TODAY asked experts to explore critical military, diplomatic and political factors involved and the possible consequences. This is part of that occasional series.

Saddam Hussein is a cunning, stubborn opponent, as I well know. As commander of U.S. forces in Europe in the late 1990s, I watched Iraqi forces violate the “no fly zone” and defy United Nations inspection teams. He is the kind of leader who starts wars, as when he invaded Kuwait in 1990 and then struck Israel with SCUD missiles. He has a strong streak of irrationality, and, apparently, a messianic complex.

If Saddam had the SCUD missiles armed with nuclear warheads that he wants, the Middle East would face terrible new risks. He might strike at Israel or go after another neighboring state, holding his missiles as a second-strike deterrent. Or Israel might launch preventive strikes. We must act to prevent this kind of war.

The president will address the United Nations on Thursday. This is an appropriate journey. But is the administration asserting that we should start a war now to prevent one later? Rushing too quickly to invade Iraq presents greater problems now than Saddam does.

Saddam has been seeking nuclear weapons for more than 20 years. In 1991, the CIA said he was within six months of having a nuclear weapon. The latest information says he has tried in recent months to acquire aluminum rods necessary to enrich uranium. Despite all of the talk of “loose nukes,” Saddam doesn’t have any, or, apparently, the highly enriched uranium or plutonium to enable him to construct them.

Unless there is new evidence, we appear to have months, if not years, to work out this problem. And today we are still at war with al-Qaeda. These terrorists weren’t destroyed in Afghanistan, just scattered. Thousands of fighters remain, plotting their next moves. (more…)

November 1, 2001

“We have to balance the energy of the military action”

Filed under: Afghanistan, Interviews, Military Commentator, Military Force, Strategy, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 7:12 pm

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Why do we not just commit all necessary forces into the region and get it over with? We have the manpower and the weapons. They chose this path and we should end it.

CLARK: I agree with your sentiment, but it’s difficult to get the forces in and do the job correctly. Remember, what we’re trying to do is eliminate the terrorist network. If it flees to another country, and is given protection there, then a yearlong invasion of Afghanistan would be wasted. I am concerned that we not repeat the mistakes of the Russians in Afghanistan. They put in 100,000 troops, kept them there for ten years, had 15,000 killed, and lost. Winning this war requires not only bombs and bullets, but a strategic and diplomatic framework that dries up support for the terrorists worldwide.

This war won’t be over any time soon, even if by some lucky break, a bomb should strike Osama bin Laden. There are thousands of terrorists who fervently believe in attacking Americans and will continue to try to do so until their own governments detain them. So we have to balance the energy of the military action in Afghanistan with other efforts, economic, political, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement, in many places around the world to achieve our aim.

CNN Chat,  11/1/01

October 29, 2001

“A struggle for the heart and soul of Islam”

Filed under: 9.11, Afghanistan, Military Commentator, Strategy, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 6:57 pm

CNN,

BLITZER: All right. General Clark, very briefly before we take a break, what is your strategy right now? You suggested in the past that the U.S. may be investing too much energy on the military front and not enough on the diplomatic front.

CLARK: That is exactly right. We have got to understand what Osama bin Laden really wants. What he wants is the United States to strike very powerfully to mobilize Muslim opinion against United States for excessive use of force. He wants to be able to destabilize the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Ultimately he wants Mecca, Medina and the Mantle of Mohammed. And this is really a struggle for the heart and soul of Islam. So as we wage the military battle on the ground in Afghanistan, we have got to be aware of the broader context of this strategic struggle. We have got to, at one time, fight the war in Afghanistan and at the same time build a coalition, the Pakistanis and the other regimes in cooperation with us and they have to take measures to cut off the fundamentalists funding and support that is coming out of their own countries.

CNN, 10/29/01

September 15, 2001

“I think you take them out, face by face”

Filed under: 9.11, Interviews, Military Commentator, Strategy, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 6:50 pm

CNN, 9/15/01

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Gen. Clark, we’ve been speaking about NATO invoking this clause. Can you explain to us exactly and precisely what that means and what action NATO took tonight that’s so important?

Gen. Wesley Clark, CNN military analyst
Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander and now a CNN military analyst: “A very clear signal to those around the world that the United States is supported completely by its NATO allies.”

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: This is essential political action taken by the NATO members acting together to say that they stand with — and will stand with — the United States in taking whatever actions might become necessary to deal with this attack on the United States. So it’s the precondition that will make everything else possible.

AMANPOUR: Is this important in the speed with which it was done? — You remember from building the coalition for Kosovo that it took a long time, relatively, to do so. Is this an important timeline that we see here?

CLARK: I think the timeline is highly significant. Of course this is in response to an attack on a NATO member state. It’s the first time, to my knowledge, that Article 5 (of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization charter) has ever been invoked. It’s the first time we’ve had an attack on a NATO member state. And I think that NATO scholars and diplomats from previous eras would never have suspected that the state to be attacked first would be the United States. So I think this is a very clear signal to those around the world that the United States is supported completely by its NATO allies. And I think that’s a very powerful weapon to have in our arsenal.

AMANPOUR: This is an unprecedented attack not just against U.S. interests and territory but against any interests that we’ve seen in recorded memory. There has not been this kind of act of terrorism that anybody I’ve talked to can remember. Does the United States have to take military action? Not in revenge but to deter any further terrorism such as this?

CLARK: The first thing the United States has to do is determine precisely what its objectives are. And, as we’ve heard the president articulate over the last couple of days, it seems pretty clear that the objectives are beyond revenge. They’re certainly beyond retaliation. He wants, and has directed, it seems, that we’re going to go after and destroy these terrorist organizations and that we’re going to hold any states that support them equally responsible.

This is, thus far, the most sweeping interpretation of the objectives. What it means is that we’re in for a relatively long campaign. We’ve seen some of the opening moves by the United States.

Today, we’ve seen the FBI extraordinarily active and very, very effective, by first reports — we’ve had the word from Attorney General (John) Ashcroft and the FBI director (Robert Mueller) about their activities and what they’ve found in the Boston area, for example, and they’re following up leads in Florida. And, presumably, other nations are taking, right now, the same or similar activities — either in response to this or other chains of evidence that might be available.

So the first step was to gather the information and then to follow it through — and take this organization and people out.

And Christiane, if I may just say, there may well be a military strike associated with this. But let’s remember that the targets here aren’t buildings — these are the people who masterminded this, and all their supporters. Striking in revenge at an isolated training camp or whatever, that’s not likely to be the objective here. Not now.

AMANPOUR: So what is, Gen. Clark? We’re talking about a faceless, maybe nameless terrorist organization, potentially — if they decide that it is Osama bin Laden, this is an organization apparently that has successfully morphed into semi-autonomous operating cells around the world. Can you tell us how you take these people out?

CLARK: I think we’re seeing the first evidence of that right now by the FBI and the local police in Boston. I think you take them out, face by face. It is an organization of faces, and they can be identified and removed.

Decisive Force by Wesley Clark

Filed under: 9.11, Military Force, OpEds, Strategy, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 12:48 am

We must target and destroy the terrorist network. There is no room for half measures

America is indeed at war. The attacks in New York and Washington have raised the dangers posed by international terrorism to a new level. But despite the awful familiarity of the devastation, an effective US response is likely to be something unfamiliar.

For the US, the weapons of this war should be information, law enforcement and, rarely, active military force. The coalition that will form around the US and its Nato allies should agree on its intent, but not trumpet its plans. No vast military deployments should be anticipated. But urgent measures should be taken behind the scenes because the populations and economic structures of western nations will be at risk.

And the American public will have to grasp a new approach to warfare. Our objective should be neither revenge nor retaliation, though we will achieve both. Rather, we must systematically target and destroy the complex network of international terrorism. The aim should be to attack not buildings but people who have masterminded, coordinated, supported and executed these and other attacks. I can hear warnings to us to narrow our objectives because the task is so difficult, warnings there may be failures and actions that can never be acknowledged. But now all must accept at face value the terrorists’ unwavering hostility to the US and all that it stands for. There is no room for half-measures in our response.

Our methods should rely first on domestic and international law, and the support and active participation of our friends and allies. Evidence must be collected, networks uncovered and a faceless threat given identity. In some cases, astute police work will win the day, here and abroad. In others, international collaboration may be necessary. Special military forces may be called on to operate in states that are uncooperative or unable to control their own territory. In exceptional cases, targets will be developed that may be handled by conventional military strikes. (more…)

February 20, 2000

Clark’s Iraq War opposition timeline

February 15, 2002:
Clark said any Iraq operation had to take aftermath into account. On February 15, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “I think what comes out of it is if we’re going to go into this operation in the future, we’ve got to be sure before we undertake it that we can go all the way, not only to Baghdad, not only Saddam Hussein, but to know what happens next, to make sure we have our allies and supporters lined up so that there’s not chaos and slaughter in Baghdad or in the south or in the Kurdistan areas after we complete the military phase of the operation.” [CNN, 2/15/02]

August 2, 2002:
Clark said “We Seem to Have Skipped Some Steps in the Logic of the Debate,” on Iraq. On August 2, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “We seem to have skipped some steps in the logic of the debate. And, as the American people are brought into this, they’re asking these questions.” [CNN, 8/2/02]

August 29, 2002:
Clark said there is “War Fever Out There Right Now in Some Quarters of the Leadership Elements in this Country…Where is That Coming From?” On August 29, 2002, Clark said regarding a proposed invasion of Iraq, “Well, taking it to the United Nations doesn’t put America’s foreign policy into the hands of the French. What you have to do as the United States is you have to get other nations to commit and come in with you, and so you’ve got to provide the evidence, and the convincing of the French and the French public, and the leadership elite. Look, there’s a war fever out there right now in some quarters of some of the leadership elements in this country, apparently, because I keep hearing this sense of urgency and so forth. Where is that coming from? The vice president said that today he doesn’t know when they’re going to get nuclear weapons. They’ve been trying to get nuclear weapons for — for 20 years. So if there’s some smoking gun, if there’s some really key piece of information that hasn’t been shared publicly, maybe they can share it with the French.” [CNN, 8/29/02]

August 29, 2002:
Clark said aftermath of Iraq invasion was “More Boiling in the Street.” On August 29, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, “I think — but I think that underneath, what you’re going to have is you’re going to have more boiling in the street. You’re going to have deeper anger and you’re going to feed the recruitment efforts of Al Qaeda. And this is the key point, I think, that we’re at here. The question is what’s the greater threat? Three thousand dead in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon underscore the fact that the threat we’re facing primarily is Al Qaeda. We have to work the Iraq problem around dealing with Al Qaeda. And the key thing about dealing with Al Qaeda is, we can’t win that war alone.” [CNN, 8/29/02]

August 29, 2002:
Clark said “I’d like to see us slow down the rush to go after Saddam Hussein unless there’s some clear convincing evidence that we haven’t shared with the public that he’s right on the verge of getting nuclear weapons.” On August 29, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “My perspective would be I’d like to see us slow down the rush to go after Saddam Hussein unless there’s some clear convincing evidence that we haven’t had shared with the public that he’s right on the verge of getting nuclear weapons.” [CNN, 8/29/02]

August 30, 2002:
Clark said “Going After Iraq Right Now is at Best a Diversion, and at Worst it Risks the Possibility of Strengthening Al Qaeda and Undercutting Our Coalition at a Critical Time.” On August 30, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “Going after Iraq right now is at best a diversion, and at worst it risks the possibility of strengthening Al Qaeda and undercutting our coalition at a critical time. So at the strategic level, I think we have to keep our eye on the ball and focus on the number one strategic priority. There are a lot of other concerns as well, but that’s the main one.” [CNN, 8/30/02]

August 30, 2002:
Clark said disarming Saddam Hussein needed to be done “in the Right Context, and That Context is the Adherence to Full Weight of International Law.” On August 30, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “I think it’s a serious problem with Saddam Hussein. I think he should be held to his pledge to give up his weapons of mass destruction, but we need to do so in the right context, and that context is adherence to full weight of international law, bringing our coalition partner all along with us, perhaps taking it to NATO, and putting a united front together to press Saddam Hussein.” [CNN, 8/30/02]

August 30, 2002:
Clark said invasion of Iraq of “Supercharge….Radical Groups in the Middle East.” On August 30, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “It seems that way to me. It seems that this would supercharge the opinion, not necessarily of the elites in the Arab world, who may bow to the inevitability of the United States and its power, but the radical groups in the Middle East, who are looking for reasons and gaining more recruits every time the United States makes a unilateral move by force. They will gain strength from something like this. We can well end up in Iraq with thousands of military forces tied down, and a worse problem in coping with a war on terror here in the United States or Europe, or elsewhere around the world.” [CNN, 8/30/02]

September 16, 2002:
Clark said Congress shouldn’t give a “blank check,” to Use Force Against Iraq. On September 16, 2002, Clark said, regarding Iraq and possible Congressional authorization to use force, “Don’t give a blank check. Don’t just say, you are authorized to use force. Say what the objectives are. Say what the limitations are, say what the constraints and restraints are. What is it that we, the United States of America, hope to accomplish in this operation?” [CNN 9/16/02]

September 23, 2002:
Clark said force should only be used as a last resort, “Not Because of a Sense of Impatience With the Arcane Ways of International Institutions.” On September 23, 2002, Clark said, regarding Iraq and possible Congressional authorization for the use of force, “When you’re talking about American men and women going and facing the risk we’ve been talking about this afternoon… you want to be sure that you’re using force and expending American blood and lives in treasure as the ultimate last resort. Not because of a sense of impatience with the arcane ways of international institutions.” [Senate Committee on Armed Forces 9/23/02]
http://armedservices.house.gov/openingstatementsandpressreleases/107thcongress/02-09-26clark.html

September 25, 2002:
Clark urged work on post-war issues. On September 25, 2002, Clark said, regarding a possible invasion of Iraq, “If we go in there, this government will be displaced, and there will be a new government put in place. But what about the humanitarian issues? What about the economic development? What about the energy? What about the opening of commerce? What about tariffs? What about taxes? What about police? What about public order? All those issues, we should be working on now, because they will help us do a better job of reducing the adverse, potentially adverse, impact of the war on terror if we have to do what we might have to do?” [CNN 9/25/02]

October 5, 2002:
Clark said it appeared that “Administration Jumped to the Conclusion That It Wanted War First and Then the Diplomacy Has Followed.” On October 5, 2002, Clark said, regarding debate on Congressional authorization for war against Iraq, “The way the debate has emerged, it’s appeared as though to the American people, at least to many that talk to me, as though the administration jumped to the conclusion that it wanted war first and then the diplomacy has followed.” [CNN 10/5/02]

January 23, 2003:
Clark said “There Are Problems With the Case the U.S. is Making,” for War Against Iraq in Order to Gain Allies at the U.N. On January 23, 2003, Clark said, regarding the case the United States had made for war against Iraq to the United Nations, “There are problems with the case that the U.S. is making, because the U.S. hasn’t presented publicly the clear, overwhelming sense of urgency to galvanize the world community to immediate military action now…..You need the cover of legitimacy, and afterwards, you’re going to need allies and other people to help share the burdens of peacekeeping.” [CNN 1/23/03]

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