Wes Clark on the Iraq War

May 30, 2007

“There’s no magic bullet solution”

Filed under: Budget, Strategy, Troops & Vets, Withdrawal — faithinwes @ 10:09 pm

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But, you know… sometimes politics doesn’t work. Iraq is one of these issues where politics doesn’t quite work. Take the case of the original legislation that Congress sent to the President, you know the one he vetoed.

Alan Colmes: Yes.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: There were actually three big loopholes about the withdrawal. He didn’t have to withdraw troops that were fighting al Qaeda, he didn’t have to withdraw troops that were training the Iraqis and you didn’t have to withdraw troops who were protecting the troops fighting al Qaeda and training Iraqis. Those are huge loopholes. Nobody knows who’s doing what over there. You could have ended up with 150,000 troops left.

Alan Colmes: Even with that legislation, with the benchmarks, with the date certain?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Absolutely. All you had to do… none of that stuff applied to training or fighting al Qaeda.

Alan Colmes: And yet the administration kept saying “if you vote against the supplemental, you’ve voting against the troops.’

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sure.

Alan Colmes: You got the impression that they weren’t going to have bullets in their guns.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sure, but the truth was the Democrats didn’t say “there’s huge loopholes and even after we do this, these troops are going to be left there.’ Neither side did it. It got simplified in politics and this is the danger. The truth about Iraq is that we’re going to be there for a while, maybe not in the same strength we’re in now, I hope not. And hopefully, you know, we’ll get the fighting calmed down and I don’t think the military’s the solution – it’s just part of the solution, but…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: … but, there’s no magic bullet solution and no matter who comes into office it’s going to be a huge problem because… here’s the problem, Alan – we’ve been talking about troops and tactics and we should have been talking as a nation about strategy and policies.

Alan Colmes: Yeah, yeah.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Not the troops and the tactics.

Alan Colmes: What would you have done if you were in the Senate, though? Would you have voted against or for the supplemental?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Oh, I’d have had to vote against it.

Alan Colmes: You would have voted against it?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Absolutely.

Alan Colmes: Then, of course you have the other side saying “see, you don’t care about the troops.”

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I know that.

Alan Colmes: You can’t say that to Wesley Clark.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It’s not about the troops, it’s about the strategy. You’ve got to fix the strategy.

Alan Colmes: What do you think of Petraeus?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I like him. I think he’s great. Look, think of it this way with Petraeus. You’re… you’re a football player; and you’re on the bench and you played well on the junior varsity but now you’re ready… you’d like to be the quarterback but no one’s put you in. And suddenly the coach comes over, there’s 10 minutes left in the game, you’re behind by 20 points, it’s pouring down rain, the other side are like monsters, your offensive line is crumbling, the fans are leaving and the coach says to you, “kid, I want you to go in there and win this game” he says, “and don’t worry about how bad you run up the score, beat them 50 to nothing.” What are you going to say? “Coach, let’s do it.’ You’re going to go in, but you’re not going to say “uh, coach… I, uh… it’s hard to throw passes in this kind of weather and uh, you know, we really need some more emotional lift from the fans and, uh, I’m not sure we had the practice for me being quarterback this week and so I’m gonna do my best but I’ll be the first one to tell ya when it can’t be done.’ I mean, you don’t do that.

Alan Colmes: Uh huh. Yeah, yeah.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Petraeus’s mission is to succeed. And…

Alan Colmes: They haven’t defined what “succeed’ is. They haven’t told us what success really is, we don’t understand… at least I don’t, the American…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, get off Petraeus for that.

Alan Colmes: No, I understand.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Get on the administration.

Alan Colmes: Exactly. The administration has to define for the American people what success is, other than have the President say “we’ve got to win… victory, victory, victory.’ Well, what is victory?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Petraeus would tell you victory is reducing the violence, bringing about a political solution and being able to cut down the numbers of troops that are there by some substantial number. That’s what he’ll be trying to do. The administration won’t quite articulate it that way because… this is what I’m saying, the politics don’t work. But they don’t work on either side, Alan.

Alan Colmes: Yeah.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I mean, people don’t want to hear the fact that we’re in a real mess in Iraq, no matter who’s president. It’s not a matter of sort of saying “okay, get me 10,000 trucks, I want that stuff loaded out by 06:00. Line the troops up, we’re leaving.’ I mean, that’s not going to happen.

Alan Colmes: What can you do then? What could a President do? What could General Clark do if you were in that position?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I’d really be working the diplomacy with Iran and Syria. I’d be trying to change the vision of what people have in the region. And then I’d carry a trick bag into the Iranians and say “here’s my tricks – I can put more troops in, I can put “em right up on your border… I can, I can be worse to you or I can be better. We could even go so far as to recognize you. We can give you economic development assistance. We could even let Chevron Oil fix your whole energy sector so you’re not running out of energy.’ And, um… all that can happen. We just have to have a different understanding of what’s going to happen in the region. And I think if you change the nature of the dialogue, you won’t… you won’t succeed right away but I think it’s the only way you can begin to lay the conditions for success.

Alan Colmes: You hear some of the neocons talking almost as though frothing at the mouth, almost as if war with Iran is inevitable and that’s the only way we can keep them in line and protect Israel for example.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, there are some people who think that. I think that would be… right now, I haven’t taken the use of force off the table, but I think that we’re a long, long way from thinking about that, wanting to do it. It doesn’t look like the best solution to me and uh, you know you’ve got to talk to people.

Alan Colmes: Yeah. We’re talking to General Wesley Clark. A few more moments with the General. It’s 877-for-Alan, 877-467-2526. My opening question having to do with a run for president and you said you haven’t decided not to. So, is the door open still in ’08 for you to jump in?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I just… I’d like to leave it just the way I said it, Alan.

Alan Colmes:

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I haven’t decided not to run.

Alan Colmes: Really? It’s my job to coax you a little further, though along those lines.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well you can try. I’m pretty good at maintaining this position.

Alan Colmes: I’m sure. Among the candidates now, is there any one you favor?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I like them all. I think there’s some great people in the race. I think there’s some tremendous talent out there and um, and you know I think that the American people are going to have some real opportunities to express their views. But…

Alan Colmes: You…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: … but, but this election is going to be about international affairs and national security, whether we want it to be or not. That’s what it’s going to be about because this problem is not going to go away. No matter… I’ve seen… President Bush says “ah maybe there’s someone thinking about withdrawing troops.” Believe me, they can start withdrawing troops in September. A year from now… unless… I don’t know… unless something really amazing happens we’re still going to have this problem.

Alan Colmes: So you’re saying whatever happens, we’re still probably going to wind up with a sizable force in Iraq for how long?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It really depends on the leadership of the administration. Could be a few months after 2009, could be years after 2009. It… it could come down substantially before 2009.

Alan Colmes: What would have to happen…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I’d be surprised if it does with this administration.

Alan Colmes: What would have to happen to get the troops home?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I think you’ve got to really put some horsepower into working the Iraqi faction problem and look, there’s not a government. Let’s be clear about what’s there. There are some people who have been elected, they’ve collected signatures, they got votes, they’ve got parties, but it’s not a government. It doesn’t provide services for people. It’s basically their trying to divvy up authority and power among various factions.

Alan Colmes: What makes us think we can have any sway over what happens over there governmentally?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, it depends on how much resource we’re willing to put into it and, you know, how effective we are as interlocutors. Right now, we’ve basically tried to dodge the problem for four years. We have from the beginning said “oh, let’s have a formulaic solution, give them purple fingers, let them vote and in the meanwhile, you know, we’ll try and win it with the military.’ We never built the civilian side of this thing up the way we could have to do the job with the civilians.

Alan Colmes radio show, 5/30/07
http://securingamerica.com/node/2446

January 19, 2007

Watch the TV Ad – Stop Escalation

Filed under: Military Force, Troops & Vets — faithinwes @ 3:37 pm

Click here to rate the ad, add a comment or view full size.

For too many years, those of us who advocate a responsible use of our military, and thus have spoken against the President’s failed Iraq policy, have been falsely tagged as against the troops by the Bush Administration, neo-conservatives, and their cronies. Today, that all changes.

VoteVets.org, the leading political group of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, is launching a television advertisement that makes it crystal clear – opposing the President’s escalation of the war in Iraq means you are supporting the troops. VoteVets.org is joining organizations such as MoveOn.org, SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and Center for America Progress as founding members of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. I am proud to say that I am an active Board of Advisors Member to VoteVets.org, and even prouder of how they are taking up the fight and leading the way in opposing the President’s folly.

Watch the ad | Keep the ad on the air

The President’s new so-called plan for Iraq amounts to nothing more than “Stay the Course,” a futile exercise akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

More than 20,000 troops are being sent into harm’s way for a mission that is not achievable by military power alone. Changing our approach in Iraq must go hand in hand with fixing a regional strategy that has been an abject failure. As I noted in my USA Today op-ed published in November, much of which was picked up by the non-partisan Iraq Study Group when it came out against an escalation of the war, what is needed now is more diplomacy that brings all the players to the table, including our enemies. Absent of this, the President is sending the troops needlessly into harm’s way. That’s not how you support the military and its members.

VoteVets.org is backing up the launch of their ad with a two-day, seven-city tour, to pressure those Senators who are on the fence regarding escalation to oppose the President’s plan and change the strategy in Iraq. These young veterans are not just content to buy air time – they are taking the fight to Senators’ home turf and making them answer the question, “Are you with the President, or are you with the troops?” (more…)

December 15, 2003

Never Leave a Soldier Behind By General Wesley K. Clark

Filed under: Military Force, OpEds, Strategy, Terrorism, Troops & Vets — faithinwes @ 1:24 am

When you fight a war, there is one rule you always follow: you never, ever leave a soldier behind. For three years now, George W. Bush has been leaving our soldiers in the lurch and leaving our veterans behind. If you want to support the military as President Bush says he does, you don’t send troops into a war without an exit strategy, and you always take care of those soldiers who fought in earlier wars. Mr. Bush has failed on both scores.

First, I opposed the war in Iraq, but I am willing to give credit where credit is due. Mr. Bush was right to go to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day. But he should have brought more than the turkey stuffing. He should have brought a success strategy to Iraq, so that we can end the occupation, protect our troops and eventually bring them home.

On September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked America. At first, the Administration went after the terrorists and their state sponsors in Afghanistan. I applauded that effort and, like many Americans, I was encouraged by President Bush’s determination. But then something happened — a regular bait-and-switch. Instead of pursuing Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network, Mr. Bush turned his focus on Iraq and went after Saddam Hussein.

Now we’re in a mess in Iraq. We should be reducing our vulnerability to terrorism, but the Bush Administration has committed our troops and treasure to a misguided war. Saddam Hussein is a villain. We all know that. But he did not arrange to fly those planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Al Qaeda did. And Al Qaeda cells continue to threaten our society. This is not a good strategy for winning the war on terror.

After 9/11, the world stood with the United States in sympathy and solidarity. Today, our country is viewed as a bully. It didn’t have to be that way. (more…)

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