Wes Clark on the Iraq War

February 2, 2007

“National Security policy is first and foremost the responsibility of the administration”

Filed under: Congress, Interviews, Military Commentator, Military Force, Strategy — faithinwes @ 3:26 pm

Fox News 2/2/07

WES CLARK: Some of the war’s staunchest supporters are admitting they were wrong. And others now call for poll-tested positions. I speak to you today as the only person who will take this podium before you to actually have done the things we need to succeed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world.

Jamie Colby: General Wesley Clark addressing Democrats about political divisions on Iraq and the need for strong leadership. Addressing Democrats at their winter meeting. Foreign policy front and center in the campaign. Joining us now for more on today’s DNC meeting General Wesley Clark. Thanks for being with us General.

WES CLARK: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.

Jamie Colby: You talked about your experience and the fact that you understand how things work in Afghanistan and in Iraq. So would you have ideas you would want to put in place as President?

WES CLARK: Absolutely. Immediately. You see to win in these countries you have to build a whole foundation around the military forces that we’ve committed. It’s not enough to rely on great generals and great soldiers or marines. You’ve got to have the right diplomacy. You’ve got to be able to help governments meet the needs of their people. Sometimes you even have to mediate between quarreling governments in the region. And, actually what’s happened so much in this region over the last five years is that we have relied on our military but we haven’t done the rest of the government actions that need to be done. We haven’t had the strong diplomacy. We haven’t created the means to help the ministries work in these countries and bring government services to people. We haven’t really effected people’s lives in a positive sense and after a while the military impact of our soldiers just wears off.

-snip

Jamie Colby: Yes sir. Today you met with Democratic leaders in an exchange of ideas there. A number of people speaking including yourself. When you think of the Iraq Resolutions, I wanted to ask you why the Democrats have not necessarily gotten behind them. There is some division among the party, is there not?

WES CLARK: I think, many of the Republicans and all of the Democrats are looking for a way to continue to support the troops, but to force the president’s hand so that he gives us a strategy that will bring us success in this mission. Some people believe that a non-binding resolution is the right way to start. Other people believe that more has to be done to put the cards on the table with enough strength to get the president’s attention. But, there should be no mistake about it. National Security policy is first and foremost the responsibility of the administration to propose, and develop, and of course, to execute. In this case, the Congress is very involved in it because that’s the will of the American people. The elections in November were a rejection of the president’s leadership. And especially his leadership in Iraq. He’s come back to the Congress and said more of the same. So there’s a lot of anxiety to change that.

Securing America

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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…)

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…)

January 16, 2007

Why Did You Oppose The Iraq War Daddy?

Filed under: Iraq War Resolution (IWR), Strategy — faithinwes @ 12:35 am

Big Tent Democrat on TalkLeft has a conversation with Kevin Drum about preemptive war and vindication.

Kevin Drum asks:

Question: [Re:] the primary critique among the anti-war left, has the Iraq war vindicated them?

Well, my quick answer as to my primary critque of the Iraq Debacle is – for the same reasons Bush pere did not go to Baghdad at the end of Desert Storm. But my long answer relies on the Congressional testimony of General Wesley Clark in September 2002:

GEN. CLARK: I’ve been concerned that the attention on Iraq will distract us from what we’re doing with respect to al Qaeda. . . . I think, as a minimum, that when one opens up another campaign, there is a diversion of effort. The question is whether the diversion of effort is productive or counterproductive. I really — it’s — there are forces operating in both directions at this point. You can make the argument, as General Shalikashvili did, that you want to cut off all sources of supply. Problem with that argument is that Iran really has had closer linkages with the terrorists in the past and still does, apparently, today, than Iraq does. So that leads you to then ask, well, what will be the impact on Iran?

More.

. . . SEN. CLELAND: And if you took out Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party, the secularist party, don’t the . . . Shi’ite Muslims make up a majority of the population in Iraq, and wouldn’t that give Iran a strong hand there, and we ultimately end up creating a Muslim state, even under democratic institutions?GEN. CLARK: Yes, sir. I think that there is a substantial risk in the aftermath of the operation that we could end up with a problem which is more intractable than we have today.

One thing we’re pretty clear on is that Saddam has a very effective police state apparatus. He doesn’t allow challenges to his authority inside that state. When we go in there with a transitional government and a military occupation of some indefinite duration, it’s also very likely that if there is an effective al Qaeda left — and there certainly will be an effective organization of extremists — they will pour into that country because they must compete for the Iraqi people; the Wahabes with the Sunnis, the Shi’as from Iran working with the Shi’a population. So it’s not beyond consideration that we would have a radicalized state, even under a U.S. occupation in the aftermath.

Was General Clark vindicated?

TalkLeft, January 16, 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…)

October 27, 2006

Wesley Clark’s conspiracy theory

Filed under: Project for a New American Century (PNAC) — faithinwes @ 8:34 pm

-snip

“But this administration determined shortly after 9/11, perhaps on the same day, that they would invade Iraq and settle on old score and move into that strategy that Paul Wolfowitz had described to me in 1991,” he said. “There was no public debate, there was no discussion of what this meant. There was obfuscation.”

Although then a private citizen, Clark said he visited Secretary Rumsfeld in the Pentagon in the week after 9/11 and while there was summoned by a general he was still on good terms with who into his office.

“He said, ‘Sir, we’re going to invade Iraq,'” Clark recalled. “I said, ‘We’re going to invade Iraq? Why?’ And he said, ‘I don’t really know why, it doesn’t’t’t’t make a whole lot of sense, but they [the administration] doesn’t know what to do about the problem of terrorists, and if only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem has to look like a nail.’

“He said, ‘We don’t know what to do about terrorism, but we can take down governments, so I guess we are looking for governments to take down.'”

Clark said he was in the Pentagon again in November of 2001, visiting the same unnamed general.

“I said are we still going to invade Iraq?” Clark said. “He said, ‘Yes sir, but it’s worse than that'” and that the general said he had just gotten a memo from Rumsfeld’s office containing a disturbing “five year plan.”

“We’re going to take down seven countries in five years,” Clark quoted the general. “We’re going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan and we’re going to come back and get Iran in five years.”

Clark said only then did he begin to understand “what wasn’t being explained to the American people, which was the overall drift of where the policy was…

“The decisions had been made long before they went through the charade of going to the United Nations [for authority to invade Iraq] and there were people actively pulling within the administration for the failure of diplomacy because they didn’t want anything to stop the invasion.

“I don’t know what they were thinking about,” Clark said, his voice rising with indignation. “They obviously never went to war — war is ugly, it is unpredictable, and when you kill peoples’ relatives, they hate your forever.

“When you go to war, it is a permanent act, it marks forever a line that can’t be walked back,” Clark added, now almost mournfully. “We went to war in Iraq, we did it on the basis of hyped intelligence and an underlining theory that was never explained to the American people…

“My friends, I ask you, how could we in this country, with all it stands for — Democracy, freedom, human rights, respect for the individual, a belief if the worth of every person — how could we have done this and believe we wouldn’t pay the price,” the retired general said. “It was a colossal strategic blunder.”

But the blunder has bogged us down in Iraq for more than three years and Clark believes it was also the un-doing of a seven-country conspiracy that would have taken us to war all over the Middle East to make it “ours.”

Tuscaloosa News  10/27/06

October 13, 2006

“Well, don’t show it to me, because I want to be able to talk about it.”

Filed under: Project for a New American Century (PNAC) — faithinwes @ 11:45 pm

University of Alabama, October 13, 2006

…So, when 9/11 happened, we didn’t have a national strategy. The American people weren’t engaged, and what happened is that we went to war in Afghanistan. We had to, but this administration determined shortly after 9/11, perhaps on the same day, that they would invade Iraq and settle an old score and move into that strategy that Paul Wolfowitz had described to me in 1991. There was no public debate. There was no discussion of what this meant. There was obfuscation. I went through the Pentagon a week after 9/11. One of the Generals called me in, and he said, “Sir,” he said, “come in here in my office.” I’d gone in to see Secretary Rumsfeld, because after you’ve been in the uniform for 35 years, when you’re suddenly on CNN, and you know the people who are in, and you feel like you’re still part of the Army. I kept looking at my suit and looking for that big black stripe that you wear around your sleeve and looking, my, my shoulder was bare, and I was in a blue suit, not a green one, and I wasn’t Air Force either. (laughter) And so, I had to go back and touch base, you know, to the Pentagon.

So, the General calls me after I’d seen Rumsfeld. He said, “Sir, come in here.” He said, “Sir, we’re going to invade Iraq.” I said, “We’re going to invade Iraq!?! Why?” And he said, “Because,” he says, “I don’t know why. Really,” he said, “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but,” he said, “I guess they don’t know what to do about the problem of terrorism, and if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem has to look like a nail.” He said, “We don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we can take down governments. So, I guess they’re looking for a government to take down. Meanwhile we started bombing in Afghanistan. So well, I came back to see the same General in early November. I said, “Are we still going to invade Iraq?” He said, “Yes, Sir,” he said, “but it’s worse than that.” I said, “How do you mean?” He held up this piece of paper. He said, “I just got this memo today or yesterday from the office of the Secretary of Defense upstairs. It’s a, it’s a five-year plan. We’re going to take down seven countries in five years. We’re going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we’re going to come back and get Iran in five years. I said, “Is that classified, that paper?” He said, “Yes Sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me, because I want to be able to talk about it.” And I begin to see what wasn’t being explained to the American people, which was the overall drift of where the policy was. We still didn’t have a strategy, but we were driven to take action.”

Securing America

September 5, 2006

The Neo Con: Five Years In

Filed under: 9.11, Afghanistan, Iran, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 1:52 pm

Neil Cavuto: Alright, six days to 9/11, five years since America was attacked by terrorists, proof that the nation is more secure? Depends on who you talk to. Democratic leaders out with a report called “The Neo Con”. It claims that Bush Republicans have failed in the War on Terror.
(video of Harry Reid)

Neil Cavuto: Alright, to General Wesley Clark, right now his thoughts on that, part of this report issued today. General, we haven’t been attacked almost five years. That’s not bad.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I, I’m delighted that we haven’t, and I hope we’ll never be attacked. The attack on 9/11 occurred on the President’s watch. He took us into a war with Iraq we didn’t have to fight. It’s been used to incentivize recruiting in Al Qaeda. The number of people who are affiliated with Al Qaeda worldwide has more than doubled since 2001. Our Armed Forces are bogged down in Iraq. We haven’t been able to effectively engage with North Korea. We’re hearing the tom-toms beating for war with Iran. I think the American people can judge. This administration’s policy has been a mistake, and he’s not made us safer. He’s left us more vulnerable.

Neil Cavuto: Let me ask you, General, the folks we’re fighting in Iraq right now, if we weren’t fighting them in Iraq right now, where would they be?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well those, a lot of those folks who wouldn’t be fighting at all, because what we did is we incentivized a whole generation of young radical people to come and defend Islam against the United States. That’s the foreign terrorists that are there, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000. (more…)

June 9, 2006

“We had a full-court press on against Al Qaeda”

Filed under: 9.11, Intelligence, Interviews, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 9:29 pm

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘This- Go back to our view.’ See, they, they, they didn’t want to learn. So, when they came to office- And here’s, here’s a point I want to leave you all with and, and focus on. Look, we knew Osama Bin Laden was a threat. I mean, my troops in Europe were on alert from August on, after those bombings in, in Tanzania and Kenya-

Ben Mankiewicz: Right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: -in 1998. We knew that was coming from Al Qaeda. We had a full-court press on against Al Qaeda. Probably should have done more than we did, but we did send Tomahawk missiles in there. I wasn’t in on the planning of that. I don’t know what the considerations were. It wasn’t, you know, my responsibility, and I couldn’t get access to it, but that’s the way it works in the military chain of command. You can’t do everything, but we sure knew about Osama Bin Laden. And we talked to the administration.

My friend Richard Clarke talked very clearly to Condeleeza and others, so did Sandy Berger when there was a transition period and after the 25th of Januray of 2001. And they chose to ignore the advice, the information, and the plans they were given.

They chose to ignore it, because it came from an administration that they didn’t respect. And that ignorance, to my view, constitutes command negligence by the President of the United States for failing to organize our government to take action on the intelligence and warnings we received about a potential threat to the United States that resulted in 9/11.

Cen Uygur: See, I don’t-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: That’s, that’s the flaw. The Iraq war is a coverup of the failure that lead to 9/11.

Young Turks radio show 6/9/06

May 2, 2006

“I went to several Senators, including I think a couple who later ran for office”

Al Franken: And it’s, it’s one thing for somebody who voted for this war saying, you know, ‘You have to assume the President’s telling the truth. You can’t assume a President is lying.’ But then on the other hand, the American people want someone who’s a better BS detector than they are. And, and you know, I think I would have voted for the use of force, because I would’ve believed, I believed Colin Powell. I didn’t have any reason to think that I couldn’t believe Colin Powell. I didn’t have a reason to believe that the administration would be misleading us, and they did.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I didn’t, I didn’t believe it because I went through the Pentagon a few days after 9/11, and the Generals in the Pentagon told me, “Hey sir,” they said, “ These guys have made the decision to invade Iraq.”

Al Franken: Right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: This was like, the 20th of September. I said, “They have.” He said, “Oh, yes sir. They’ve already decided.” I went back a couple of months later, and said, “Are they still going to invade Iraq?” This is like, November. Said, “Oh, yes sir. In fact there’s even a plan to- After they finish with Iraq, they’re going to take on Syria and Lebanon. Eventually they’re going to end up in Iran.” This is a whole five-year campaign plan to go from country to country kicking out dictators and taking over and imposing Democracy.

Al Franken: Now I know you’re a Four-Star General, and, and so the guys at the Pentagon would say, “Sir, they’re planning (laughs) to invade Iraq. But how did, how did the Senators on the Intelligence Committee not hear that?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, a lot of them did, because I told a lot of them.

Al Franken: Uh huh. And, and, and did, did they believe you. I mean non-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: They may have believed me, but you know, there’s a lot of different shades of truth in Washington. And it’s, I mean, I told people about the five-year plan, and people would say, ‘Well you know, yeah, there may be somebody who wrote that, but maybe they won’t do that.’

Al Franken: Right, right, right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘You know, we’ve got politics to worry about. Can we afford to be on the wrong side of President Bush on this.

Al Franken: Mm hm.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: He’s going to turn the American people against us. Look what happened in 1990.’

Al Franken: Okay, but that’s not, that’s. I understand why. Yeah, anybody who voted against the first Gulf War was, was, was not considered to be on the ticket.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Exactly.

Al Franken: For example.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Exactly.

Al Franken: And so that’s, that can- But that’s not leadership. Is it?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well you know, when you’re in politics, especially if you’re a lifelong politician, you have to make sure you’re also representing the people who follow you. So, there’s a combination of leading and following that’s involved in that. Even the President is, to some extent, a representative of the American people. He’s certainly not the king. He doesn’t dictate. I know he said he’s the decider, but-

Al Franken: (laughs) Yeah.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But (laughs) in fact, he is supposed to be the Chief Executive Officer representing the American people.

Al Franken: Yeah, I, I, I know, I know, but I’m saying that these Senators- there is a certain point – and boy, at the point when you’re voting to go to war or not – and they didn’t- You know, in fairness I guess, they were told they were voting for peace. They, they were told they were voting so that, that we could go to the UN and, and make the convincing argument to the UN that we would be willing to go into Iraq unilaterally. Therefore, we would have the, the leverage to get the inspectors in.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
: Well, you know, I went to several Senators, including I think a couple who later ran for office, and, for the Presidency. I said, “Don’t believe him.” (laughs) “He’s made up his mind to go to war. Don’t give him a blank check.”

Al Franken: Mm Hm.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But they gave him a blank check. I said it on CNN, “You can’t give him a blank check.” And I said it in the testimony that you have to make sure that there’s a resolution. It’s got to be a broad resolution so we can go to the United Nations, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t be a blank check.

Al Franken Show/Air America 5/2/06

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