Wes Clark on the Iraq War

November 16, 2003

“The resolution I would have supported is a resolution that required the president to return to the United States Congress before he took any military action”

Filed under: Iraq War Resolution (IWR), Levin Amendment, WMD — faithinwes @ 8:37 pm

A month later you went up to New Hampshire, campaigning for Katrina Swett, a candidate for Congress in the 2nd District, and said this: “Clark endorsed Democratic Katrina Swett in the 2nd District in New Hampshire.” And “He said if she were in Congress this week, he would advise her to vote for the resolution.” And as recently as September of this year, in response to a question of the press, “On balance, I probably would have voted for it.”

This was the resolution that the president asked for, giving him the authority to go to war. And the record’s pretty clear, General, that you were supporting the president.

GEN. CLARK: Well, I don’t think the record’s clear, that I was supporting the president, Tim. I think the record’s pretty clear in the opposite direction. What I would have supported was taking the problem to the United Nations. I wanted to see the problem of Saddam Hussein taken to the United Nations. Yes, I believe Saddam Hussein was a challenge and a threat but I did not see an imminent threat. I’ve written thousands of words, I’ve spoken dozens of times on CNN and you’ve simply got to pull the whole record out to see this. I even said on the 16th of September on CNN, “Don’t give the president a blank check.”

The resolution I would have supported is a resolution that required the president to return to the United States Congress before he took any military action. I supported a resolution that would have given him leverage with the United Nations but not a resolution that would have authorized war at that time. So I want to make it…

MR. RUSSERT: But you did say, “Our president has emphasized the urgency of eliminating these weapons. I support his efforts.”

GEN. CLARK: I do support the effort to eliminate those weapons and I did then, but I did not see it as a threat that required us to go to war at the time. And I’ve made that very clear, too.

Meet the Press 11/16/03

July 15, 2003

“Pattern of Corruption”

Filed under: 9.11, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), WMD — faithinwes @ 10:03 pm

By PAUL KRUGMAN

More than half of the U.S. Army’s combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn’t have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn’t supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?

How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn’t an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from ”people around the White House” urging him to link that assault to Saddam Hussein. His account seems to back up a CBS.com report last September, headlined ”Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11,” which quoted notes taken by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: ”Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

But an honest intelligence assessment would have raised questions about why we were going after a country that hadn’t attacked us. It would also have suggested the strong possibility that an invasion of Iraq would hurt, not help, U.S. security.

So the Iraq hawks set out to corrupt the process of intelligence assessment. On one side, nobody was held accountable for the failure to predict or prevent 9/11; on the other side, top intelligence officials were expected to support the case for an Iraq war.

New York Times,  July 15, 2003

September 23, 2002

“Apparently there is no smoking gun evidence”

Filed under: Intelligence, Interviews, Iraq War Resolution (IWR), WMD — faithinwes @ 4:29 pm

Rose: General Wesley Clark is here. From 1997-2000 he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. He led the NATO campaign in Kosovo in 1999. In the updated version of his book “Waging Modern War” he writes about the lessons of Kosovo and the challenges of the military in the post Cold War era and the war on terrorism. I am pleased to have you at this table. Welcome. Great to have you here.

I want to come to this book in a minute, but you, a military man, seem to be urging the President to go slow and not…and to be sure that they have evidence that Saddam has nuclear capabilities or.. or weapons of mass destruction. Too, don’t do it without NATO and don’t do it without the UN.

Clark: Well I am on that side of these issues because well for a lot of reasons, and I think fundamentally it’s a strategic issue for the United States. In other words, what is the greatest threat that we face and what’s the best way to come to terms with it? I think that the greatest threat is still Al Qaida.

We don’t know where Osama bin Ladin is and we don’t really have a good system for combating terrorism. Look, we walloped the Taliban and we know now that most of Al Qaida boogied out of there. Somehow they got over the mountains, they slipped back into Afghanistan and we’re still pursuing them. We know the finances have moved all around through uh Iran…

Rose: Sudan

Clark: and now they’re in Sudan apparently with gold. So I mean there are a lot of things about Al Qaida we don’t know how to beat yet but we’re…we’re very good at using our military power. The problem is that when you use military power, you make mistakes and you create enemies, and you end up then bogged in another situation. So keeping in mind strategic priorities- focus on Al Qaeda. Then, if necessary, you go after Saddam Hussein or his weapons of mass destruction capability. I think it’s high time we force Saddam Hussein to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions. But, in doing that, as always, the use of force should be a last resort, and you should use force only when you have to. We’re just, as far as I can see from the information available, not there yet.

Rose: Have you seen everything everybody else sees, you think?

Clark: No, and the thing I learned in the government was you never know what you don’t know. But…it…. Apparently there is no smoking gun evidence. There’s no indication at this moment that he’s about to (clasps hands) put the nuclear components together, stick them on top of one of his remaining SCUD missiles, and point it in the direction of Israel (unintelligible). And, he’s been trying to develop nuclear weapons for a long time. You know, the CIA said that he was about to get nukes in 6 months. Well that was 1991 and apparently it’s harder to get highly enriched uranium than we think. We’re pretty good at controlling that stuff.

Rose: And the administration seems to worry about the fact that if we wake up and he has them, then it may be too late because he may then use them in blackmail.

Clark: Well I think…..

Rose: So how do you go into that blue-gray area?

Clark: It’s a significant concern and if he has nuclear weapons, it definitely changes the political calculus for the United States and the countries in the region. It’s not just the nuclear blackmail, but what it really does is make it much more difficult for the United States to use its military power in the region, because it means we’re vulnerable to being struck.

He might or might not use these weapons. We don’t know whether we can deter Saddam Hussein or not. But I think everybody agrees that it’s much preferable to stop him before he gets the nuclear weapons.

Rose: Do you believe he would use them based off of what you know and what intelligence you had about him in your prior life? That he would use them in the first strike knowing that it would mean assured destruction of him and the Iraqi people?

Clark: Well I would say not. I would say unlikely. He’s calculating, he’s cunning, he’s a man dedicated to his own survival but there is about him a certain irrational ability- a certain messianic streak that’s reported by people who’ve followed his behavior for years. And you can’t rule out the possibility that he might just that thinking that he was going down or that it was the end of his life or whatever, or that the appointed hour had arrived that he might try to do something dramatic to bring the region to catastrophe.

Charlie Rose, September 23, 2002

September 1, 2002

”Where is the sense of urgency coming from?”

Filed under: Iraq War Resolution (IWR), Military Force, WMD — faithinwes @ 12:06 am

 First Among Evils?; The Debate Over Attacking Iraq Heats Up

By DAVID E. SANGER

-snip

So when did Iraq become the most urgent of these problems — the one that had to be dealt with first?

The answer is sometime after Sept. 11. Before then Iraq was considered essentially a regional threat whose conventional military power was far weaker than it was during the 1991 gulf war. And critics of the Cheney campaign about Iraq argue that, at least based on what is known publicly, the equation hasn’t changed much.

”Where is the sense of urgency coming from?” Gen. Wesley Clark, one of several former military officials who have urged the administration to take a deep breath, asked on television. ”He’s had weapons of mass destruction for 20 years. He doesn’t have nuclear material, and we’d likely have some notice of the breakdown of the containment regime.”

New York Times,  September 1, 2002

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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