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View Diary: Please, Wes Clark, isn't it time "to beat the sh*t out of them"? (156 comments)

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  •  We've all been through this 100,000 times (13+ / 0-)

    You are a taking Clark's words out of context.  We've been through this many many times before and we're all tired of it.

    You can misquote and take out of context all you want.  It doesn't change the fact that his testimony PISSED OFF Richard Perle.  It doesn't change the fact that his testimony CHANGED KENNEDY AND WELLSTONE'S MINDS.

    If you continue to take Clark's words out of context, there's not much that I CAN DO FOR YOU, but
    for those others who are interested in the truth, please see these diaries that we were forced to create as counters to troll-like behavior like this before:

    •  Your problem (0+ / 0-)

      Is that you confuse the effects on other people of what Clark has said what Clark has said itself.

      Wellstone, and Kennedy could interpret and use what Clark said however they contained multiple points.  Really, you are making the case in favor of Wellstone and Kennedy, not Clark.

      And, I can see with your name calling that you have reached the end of your rope in terms of your ability to prove your point.

      •  That should be (0+ / 0-)

        you confuse the effects on other people of what Clark said with what Clark said itself.

      •  I can't wait to see if my above "IF" comment gets (0+ / 0-)

        you to admit that you're being guilty of semanticism.
        I'll give you this: if the only thing Clark had ever said on the matter was, "Let's wait to attack," then you'd be 100% correct.

      •  You will not be further addressed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Until you READ the links I gave you.  But you won't.

        Please, anyone else who is reading this thread, read the links to other diaries here that refute this bullshit argument htat Holdek is making.  It's common trolling.  Clarkies have seen it before and will see it again.  We've addressed the bullshit here:

        And other trolling techniques here:

        But, since Holdek seems to be incapable of clicking through to a link, here is the Clark and Iraq diary contents:

        Earlier, I did a diary entry on Wes Clark and the Issues.  That diary was in response to the fact that some Kossacks were unaware that Wes had a whole suite of position papers online from 2004 and they're still available at:  I focused that diary on just a few issues, ones that I thought people knew the least about Wes's positions.  From the comments, it seems like I should do a diary on Wes's stance on Iraq.  I've gotten some help from some fellow Clarkies (most extensively from Tom Rinaldo and northWESterly) on how to organize this, so they'll be around to talk about it too.

        Wes has consistently been against invading and for diplomacy.  He still is.  He’s always said that Iraq is not a problem the military can solve.  It’s a diplomatic and political problem first.



        Wes’s opening statement  before the House Armed Services Committee in 2002 is here:

        He talked about how time was on our side, force shouldn’t be used preemptively, and how if we did use force, the hard part would be after we’d taken out Hussein.  Wes was testifying as a military and diplomatic expert.  And those are the opinions he gave.  

        The President and his national security team must deploy imagination, leverage, and patience in crafting UN engagement.  In the near term, time is on our side, and we should endeavor to use the UN if at all possible.  This may require a period of time for inspections or even the development of a more intrusive inspection program, if necessary backed by force.  This is foremost an effort to gain world-wide legitimacy for US concerns and possible later action, but it may also impede Saddam's weapons programs and further constrain his freedom of action.  Yes, there is a risk that inspections would fail to provide the evidence of his weapons programs, but the difficulties of dealing with this outcome are more than offset by opportunity to gain allies and support in the campaign against Saddam.

        Force should be used as the last resort; after all diplomatic means have been exhausted, unless information indicates that further delay would present an immediate risk to the assembled forces and organizations.  This action should not be categorized as "preemptive."  

        Force should not be used until the personnel and organizations to be involved in post-conflict Iraq are identified and readied to assume their responsibilities. This includes requirements for  humanitarian assistance, police and judicial capabilities, emergency medical and reconstruction assistance, and preparations for a transitional governing body and eventual elections, perhaps including a new constitution.   Ideally, international and multinational organizations will participate in the readying of such post-conflict  operations, including the UN, NATO, and other regional and Islamic organizations.

        Many people, including Matt Drudge, tried to twist Wes’s words into saying that he supported the invasion.  This just isn’t true and can be most easily refuted with Richard Perle’s words, showing how opposed he was to Wes's position:  "General, as you leave, I just want you to know, I think your testimony is hopelessly confused..."  It’s also interesting to read Dana Milbank’s contrast of Perle’s and Clark’s 2002 vs. 2005 testimony.   He basically covers that the gyst of the 2005 discussion was that Wes was right in 2002 and Perle was wrong.  Perle essentially called Wes a "kooky general" for opposing the war, but Wes was right.

        There’s also been discussion claiming that Wes said things on CNN encouraging the war.  Wes was a military analyst and he answered military "as if" questions.  You can see a smattering of things Wes said on CNN here.  It’s pretty clear that before the war, he knew what would happen—where we’d be now.  Here’s a piece called Let’s Wait to Attack from the CNN archives.  Some might argue that Wes only wanted to wait a little while.  But ask yourself, given that there were no WMD’s, if we’d followed Wes’s advice to get all our ducks in a row, exhaust diplomatic avenues, and work the inspections process—in other words use force only as a last, last, last resort—would we ever have gone in?   And that is Wes’s style.  Force is a possibility, but only after everything—EVERYTHING—else hasn’t worked.   Knowing what we know now, it’s pretty apparent that other things would have worked because there actually was no threat.

        Finally, here's a nice overview of Wes Before the War by Tom Rinaldo (and friends) quoting the Senators who quoted Wes as their reason for voting against the IWR.

        So, BEFORE the war, Wes thought time was on our side and we could wait.  We could use diplomacy, backed up by the THREAT of force (not using the force, but the threat of it), to get to the bottom of the WMD situation in Iraq.  


        One of my favorite pieces by Wes is Broken Engagement.     He starts with this:

        During 2002 and early 2003, Bush administration officials put forth a shifting series of arguments for why we needed to invade Iraq. Nearly every one of these has been belied by subsequent events. We have yet to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; assuming that they exist at all, they obviously never presented an imminent threat. Saddam's alleged connections to al Qaeda turned out to be tenuous at best and clearly had nothing to do with September 11. The terrorists now in Iraq have largely arrived because we are there, and Saddam's security forces aren't. And peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which prominent hawks argued could be achieved "only through Baghdad," seems further away than ever.

        The point of that piece which goes a long way toward understanding what the f*** the neocons were thinking is here:

        This dream of engineering events in the Middle East to follow those of the Soviet Union has led to an almost unprecedented geostrategic blunder. One crucial reason things went wrong, I believe, is that the neoconservatives misunderstood how and why the Soviet Union fell and what the West did to contribute to that fall. They radically overestimated the role of military assertiveness while underestimating the value of other, subtler measures. They then applied those theories to the Middle East, a region with very different political and cultural conditions. The truth is this: It took four decades of patient engagement to bring down the Iron Curtain, and 10 years of deft diplomacy to turn chaotic, post-Soviet states into stable, pro-Western democracies. To achieve the same in the Middle East will require similar engagement, patience, and luck.

        Maybe other people already knew this, but this piece really woke me up.  Until then, I didn’t know WHAT we thought were doing in Iraq.

        Clark wrote at much greater length about his ideas in an Op-Ed published in the New Republic on June 7th, 2004 called:  "Key to Success: Bring in the World".  An excerpt:

        First, the United States must correct the "dynamic of conflict" that it has injected into the region. In essence, the Bush administration has scared Iran and Syria into believing that, if the United States is successful in its occupation of Iraq, they will be the next targets. To the Iranians and Syrians, the implication is that their survival depends on dragging the U.S. mission in Iraq into failure. Furthermore, America's perceived pro-Israel bias, and its failure to engage seriously in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has fed the poisonous atmosphere fueling Arab anger toward the United States and its efforts in Iraq.

        To clear the air, the United States must first involve regional governments in Iraq's reconstruction, giving them a seat at the table in that country's development so they understand that they are not the next targets of regime change. The United States must also actively push the Middle East road map, with its goal of a two-state solution. The Bush administration cannot simply articulate a plan and expect the Israelis and Palestinians to follow--that clearly has not worked. Instead, it must hold serious and sustained dialogue between the two sides and among the so-called front-line states to hammer out details of a peace process. The road to Baghdad runs through Jerusalem, not, as the neoconservatives unquestioningly believe, the other way around.

        Of course, no summary of Wes’s position on Iraq would be complete without his campaign positon paper, the main points of which were:  End the American Monopoly, Change the Force Mix (more special forces and intelligence), and Giving Iraqis a Stake in the Success.  In his position paper, Wes also went on to enumerate the method for avoiding future foreign policy misadventures:  Promote security through multilateralism, Modernize international organizations, and create a new agency for international assistance.

        MORE RECENT WORKS (2005-2006):  HOW TO GET OUT

        Wes has always been constant on certain principles, while making tactical adjustments in his advice on what he would reccomend the U.S. do at any given moment to respond to changing condiditions in Iraq and the world as the occupation continued.  Those principles are:

        • Empowering the Iraqi's to take full control of their nation as soon as possible
        • Reducing the American footprint in Iraq as quickly and thoroughly as possible by bringing in international institutions to assist Iraq rather than keeping control under the authority of American occupying forces
        • Swearing off any permanent designs on Iraq territory or resourses
        • Beginning regional negotiations with all of the nations effected by what is happening in Iraq, recognizing that each has valid national interests that need to be dealt with, and include in those negotiations nations that we may not like or agree with, like Iraq and Syria
        • Understanding that there is no military solution possible for Iraq without achieving political agreements, and
        • Understanding that there are numerous interlocking regional conflicts, including Israel and Palestine that need to be addressed before regional stability is possible.

        Early in 2005, Wes participated in a panel discussion at the Library of Congress with Sadako Ogata.  The discussion is about the Refugee Crisis in the 1990’s; however, about half way through, Wes gets some questions about Iraq and I think that discussion is very telling about Wes’s feelings.

        Wes talked about what a fighting retreat would be like at the Conference on Terrorism, Security & America's Purpose: Towards a More Comprehensive Strategy in September 2005.  About the fighting retreat he said:

        Well the men and women in the armed forces can do it. It will be a fighting withdrawal because the insurgents will be on the heels of the American columns as they come out. I can picture our men and women in those humvees and the dump trucks. You can see them taking fire and asking, "Should I shoot back, if I shoot back who's in that building?" I can see a long and bloody retreat. It will take several weeks to get out of there, four or five weeks. Or if you stage it, it will be bloodier and more difficult for longer. The insurgents will claim they won. But that claim will be disputed by Al Qaeda. They'll say that they drove us out. And the people who helped us in Iraq will be targeted. They already are targeted but they've got some assistance and support. That will go away quickly. These people will be running for their lives. 200, 300, 500, 800,000, a million. Everybody who ever talked to an American. We don't know where the boundary will be. But it won't be pretty. And when it's said that we are coming out, the political process that we've put in place will start to come apart, naturally. People are already preparing. There's plenty of private militias there. They've got scores to settle, territory to gain, cleansing to do, resources to capture and I'm sure the Kurds will decide, you know they aren't Arabs anyway, they'll go their own way. So I would expect a pretty rapid recourse not only to civil war but regional conflict, if we were to pull out and say 'we're coming home.' Now, that's my scenario. It reduces American prestige, influence and power all around the world.

        He talked about the window where we can still achieve a less than disasterous solution in December 2005, here from Qatar:

        While the Bush administration and its critics escalated the debate last week over how long our troops should stay in Iraq, I was able to see the issue through the eyes of America's friends in the Persian Gulf region. The Arab states agree on one thing: Iran is emerging as the big winner of the American invasion, and both President Bush's new strategy and the Democratic responses to it dangerously miss the point. It's a devastating critique. And, unfortunately, it is correct.

        And he talked with his supporters about it here and here.  He said this about timelines then, "Our leverage is our military and economic commitment to Iraq.  That's why we must not set artificial timelines that reflect American impatience or domestic politics."  I think it is this difference between domestic politics and Iraqi politics that makes the false dichotomy of "timelines or not timelines."  I’ll come back to this later in the comments because I don’t want the text of the diary itself to contain my opinions.

        Most recently, Wes wrote a USA Today OpEd.  

        The right approach is a coordinated diplomatic, legal, economic and security campaign drawing upon broader dialogue in the region and intensified political work inside Iraq.

        Here is how to do this:

        • Establish an effective, sustained shuttle diplomacy within the region.
        • Form a high-level interagency diplomatic team, representing the White House and secretaries of State and Defense and led by an experienced, respected diplomat.
        • Begin talks within Iraq, and with all its neighbors, based on a clear set of principles outlined by the team. The goal would be to seek the commitments necessary to achieve our aims inside Iraq and also advance U.S. interests in the region.

        These principles could include: Iraq would remain whole; oil revenue would go to the Iraqi people based on a formula they determine; the rights and security of individuals must be protected; the United States would have no permanent bases in Iraq; the covert flow of military arms and equipment into Iraq would be halted; and the security needs of all states would be respected.

        But, that's an OpEd for USA Today, so it's kind of lean.  I much prefer this interview from late November on Ed Schultz or this Washington Journal Q&A.  Here is an excerpt about timelines from the Washington Journal Q&A (highlighting is mine--actually Tom Rinaldo's):

        Pedro Echavarria: What are the benefits of a fixed time-back, and what are the liabilities?

        GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, the benefits are that I guess you have clearly indicated your pressure on Maliki, that you're not going to stay there, and you've- it has political ramifications in the United States. So, it looks like a simple, clear-cut answer to the American people to the problem of casualties in Iraq. The, the drawbacks of the fixed timeline are that you might need that flexibility when you're doing the diplomatic discussions as to where your troops go, how many are there, when do they leave and so forth. It'd be a lot better to have the timeline come out of the dialog so that you've got- When you go into this regional dialog, you need a bag of carrots and sticks, and part of that bag of options is what you do with your troops. And so, I wouldn't want to see us get pinned down in advance of the diplomatic discussions. I think there have to be some events, an event-based scenario that we're working on in the region. There should be some notional timelines to it, but, and it's fine to draw those out internally, but to release those and commit to those before we've done the diplomatic discussions in the region, I don't think, I think it puts the, the, the cart before the horse.


        OK, this diary is extremely long.  The quotes and information above clearly show Wes's stated positions on the Iraq war, both before and after the invasion, as well as his strategy for getting us out.  He’s a strong believer in diplomacy—one cannot state that clearly or loudly enough.  To Wes, it’s never been about the military.  The military is a tool to be used only as a last, last, last resort.  The real key to foreign policy is working the carrots and sticks to achieve our goals.

        UPDATE:  I just got permission from the site owner to post this link to Russert interviewing Wes on MTP in February 2003.  In this interview (towards the end), Russert asks Wes if the war is inevitible and Wes says, "Yes."  And Russert asks if it's right, and Wes says, "No."  Then he goes on to call it an "elective" war and he explains how the whole situation should have been approached from the day after 9/11.  It's a pretty interesting thing to listen to, but it is about 15 minutes long.

        UPDATE: Nice summary of things Wes said before Iraq here: http://www.rapidfire-silverbullets.c...

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