General Clark, while I was reading Rusty1776 throw down the gauntlet with the long overdue diary, Leadership on Daily Kos, I was reminded of the time on C-span when you were asked what you would do if anyone tried to color you unpatriotic. Your supporters often cite your eloquent retort as evidence of why we want and need you in the ring.
In January you reminded us of the monumental loss and harm President Pissant has wrought upon our armed forces and the grim times ahead for them while President Magoo remains at the helm. And now, as Rusty1776 reminded us of so spot on, our Democratic leaders in Congress have acquiesced to our opponents when they should have been giving the impression that Keith Olberman and Stephen Colbert are coaching them.
The Democrats are getting the shit beat out of them, sir. So I desperately hope you'll be on stage come the June 3 debate so that you can show our team what it means to be a figting Democrat.
And if anyone doubts that he's the most capable Democrat to do damage control in the Middle East:
Next Move in Iraq, by Wes Clark, Nov 21, 2006
Averting the Next Gulf War, by Wes Clark, April 2007
And it cannot be overstated how important it is that our next president send a clear, unequivocal message to the world that THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DOES NOT TORTURE. Period. I want my reputation back. And that means putting the standard bearer at the top of the chain of command. At best, the other presidential candidates can quote Wes Clark's views on torture, but none of them can say it with the same moral authority.
On practical benefits of the Geneva Conventions:
On the one hand, because of who we are and what we represent our soldiers have received a privileged status. On the other hand, all the cruelty in the world doesn't by itself break the spirit, break the will to resist, or end a fight; in fact, it strengthens and hardens resolve.
On effective interrogations:
I don't know where the desire to resort to rough methods comes from....Look, if you put people under pressure, some will talk. The less disciplined they are, the less cohesive the organization, the more they'll talk; and the less pain you need. The more disciplined, the more cohesive, the less likely it is you'll break them....
If you look at Al Qaeda, although they're getting financial assistance from all over the world, they're not living in mansions. They're not really getting rich. Apparently Osama bin Laden, despite the fact that he has several wives, lives in caves. There's reason to believe they're a pretty tough, hardened organization. So you can't anticipate that they're going to break under pressure easily.
What we have found in our experience in interrogation over centuries in armed forces worldwide is that you have to get people to talk voluntarily....
The Yemenis have gone so far with Al Qaeda as actually having imams come in and doing "deprogramming," and actually arguing with terrorists...[with] some success. Then, of course, they apologize, they blurt out everything you want, and you can believe it.
On torture and U.S. military values:
We thought we were in this uniform because we stood for something. We stood for what was right, what was fair, what was just: we didn't torture people. I certainly wouldn't have stayed in an armed forces or worked with a government that I thought was doing the same skulduggery that the Soviets and the rest of them were doing. That's what we were against. How can it be that we think we can condone that kind of stuff now?
Torture not justified because there are "bad people":
We've heard that argument. We heard it in Argentina with the desaparecidos. We've heard it all over Latin America. We've heard it in Europe. We read it in novels. We know enough, surely, not to trust it. We've seen it in history. We've seen great empires like Rome lose their moral authority totally when they departed from humane standards of treatment.
On geo-strategic grounds for following international norms:
We've got to have allies to help us win this war on terror. The only way those countries work with us is through our moral legitimacy. We shaped the post-Cold War environment. It was America that led the effort to create the Geneva Conventions. And now we're walking away from it? What happened to that shining beacon that was America when we can walk away from the very values that we've espoused?
And then there's the future.... There will come a time when maybe America isn't the only superpower, and maybe not even the preeminent superpower. If you look at the economic map—assuming that we can get a grip on challenges like global warming—then it's reasonable to expect that India and China...will at some point have at least equal and maybe greater capacity than the United States. I'm not trying in any way to diminish what we consider exceptional about America, but it's just a reality that scale is one of the most important laws in economics. And they've got scale on us. And we've got to set rules of international behavior that work to our interest, that other nations will agree with and voluntarily adopt as their own. I like to think of these as the Golden Rules of international behavior: do unto others as you'd have them do unto you.
And the next time someone claims that Wes was fired as Supreme Allied Commander or that he doesn't know what he's doing, have them read this.
More presciently, Clark was right about the Russians. When fewer than 200 lightly armed Russian peacekeepers barnstormed from Bosnia to the Pristina airport in Kosovo to upstage the arrival of NATO peacekeepers, Clark was rightly outraged. Russians did not win the war, and he did not want them to win the peace.
Clark asked NATO helicopters and ground troops to seize the airport before the Russians could arrive. But a British general, absurdly saying he feared World War III (in truth the Russians had no cards to play), appealed to London and Washington to delay the order.
The result was a humiliation for NATO, a tonic for the Russian military and an important lesson for the then-obscure head of the Russian national security council, Vladimir Putin. As later Russian press reports showed, Putin knew far more about the Pristina operation than did the Russian defense or foreign ministers. It was no coincidence that a few weeks afterward, Russian bombers buzzed NATO member Iceland for the first time in a decade. A few weeks after that, with Putin as prime minister, Russian troops invaded Chechnya. Putin learned the value of boldness in the face of Western hesitation. Clark learned that he had no backup in Washington.
Recent events in Kosovo show that Clark's bosses in the Pentagon and White House still don't get it. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Henry Shelton, rebuked Clark in February for using 350 American soldiers to reinforce French troops who were unable to quell violence between Albanians and Serbs. After the American reinforcements were pelted with rocks and bottles, Shelton and the White House, panicky about potential casualties, told Clark not to volunteer U.S. troops again.
But Clark was right to act. He understood the value of using force quickly and early to show who was in control, and to demonstrate to the European allies that the United States is willing to put lives at risk too.
And if anyone says that his reputation amongst his military peers is very shaky, read them this.
UPDATE: If anyone would like to read the 40 page political parable I'm on the verge of having published that is about undoing all of Bush's support while proving that Wes is the best man to replace him, just go to http://www.clarkvsbush.com and then click on download from that page. Maryscott Oconnor read it recently and said that "there's nothing else like it out there." WWII vet Jim E. Gregg said, "You made me feel guilty for not paying closer attention to Clark in 04!" And a soldier recently back from Iraq told me he wanted to shake my hand after he read it. Every day since I wrote the first draft over 2 years ago Bush has made it more relevant than the day before, so I hate to think how much more relevant it'll be in a month if he and Cheney are still calling the shots.