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Wesley Clark on Meet the Press


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I think this guy could be a future president.I was reading the transcript and there is something that deeply troubles me. It is a bit long, but it is in the middle of the transcript( in Bold)


MR. RUSSERT: General Wesley Clark on Iraq, Iran, the Middle East. And is he considering a White House bid? We’ll ask him after this station break.


MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

General Clark, welcome to MEET THE PRESS.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Thank you, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: The Middle East: Should Israel listen to George Bush and show more restraint?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think they can show some restraint. But the problem is when you have hard intelligence that you’re about to be struck, it’s the responsibility of a government to take action against that intelligence and prevent the loss of lives. It’s what any society would expect of its leadership. So there’s a limit to how much restraint can be shown.

MR. RUSSERT: What can the president do now...


MR. RUSSERT: ...to bring about peace?

GEN. CLARK: I think what we’ve got to do is bring more of the neighboring countries’ leadership in more strongly. You know, in the case in Europe when we were dealing with the problems in Yugoslavia, we set up the contact group. The contact group had the United States and it had the European Union; it had Russia. And Russia at the time, frankly, was very supportive of the Serbs. They represented the Serbs’ views in these meetings. And what we need in the Middle East, I believe, is something stronger

than the current informal bilateral relationships that work on the periphery of the struggle. I think you need a Middle East contact group, because I think peace in the region is in the interests of all the countries in the region.

MR. RUSSERT: Who should be involved?

GEN. CLARK: And we need to lead that.

MR. RUSSERT: Which countries?

GEN. CLARK: I think, certainly, it’s Jordan. I think it’s Egypt. I think it’s clearly Saudi Arabia. Now, when you come to Syria and Iran, that’s where you have difficulties, and it’s a question of how you’re going to engage those countries. Can they be engaged or must they be confronted, or is there some combination that’s involved? And I think we’ve got to work our way through that. I think there’s got to be a process put in place to work our way through that.

MR. RUSSERT: You’re a strong proponent of NATO. Would you consider recommending putting NATO troops in the occupied territories to help bring about security and peace?

GEN. CLARK: Well, at some point, yes. At some point, there may be a time to do that, but I think one of the things we’ve seen most clearly in 10 years of experience with this is you have to have a mandate first. You have to have legitimacy first. You have to have a mission first. You have to deal with the political situation first before you put the troops in. The NATO troops are going to be no more effective at stopping terrorist attacks than the Israeli troops are. In fact, they’re going to be less effective. They’re not from the area. They don’t have the experience, they don’t have the intelligence connections.

And so simply putting another presence in there by itself doesn’t solve it. You’ve got to get at the political problems first. So you’ve got to have something that’s more concrete than the road map, something that you can use outside pressure, more details and move this process forward, but at some point, NATO certainly.

MR. RUSSERT: Should the United States position in terms of Iran be regime change?

GEN. CLARK: I think that’s a dangerous position to take right now. I think we’re really between confrontation and engagement on this. And we’ve tried a little bit of both. The policy we followed with respect to Eastern Europe was extraordinarily successful. It was a prolonged period of engagement. And, eventually, the ideas win out. And I think that’s what’s going to happen in Iran, too. The question is: How much engagement can we properly have? And I think we ought to be looking at that and pushing in that direction.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you consider, however, military action to remove the nuclear threat from Iran?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I first would consider a really strong and improved inspection regime that would go in and follow the leads and really work the inspections. I think the problem with military action in all of these cases is that it should be a last resort, because when you take military action, you have a lot of consequences that can’t be foreseen. And if the goal is to go after the weapons, then let’s go after the weapons the most direct way and that’s by inspections and pressure and visibility. You always have the military card behind at the end and that’s very clear but not the first card to be played.

MR. RUSSERT: Take North Korea where they won’t allow inspectors in, and if we wake up six months from now, North Korea has four or five more nuclear bombs, what do we do?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think the red line’s already been crossed in North Korea, to be honest. That red line was crossed while we were engaged with Iraq. And North Koreans have told us, and I don’t have any information that would contradict this, that they’ve begun reprocessing the plutonium and that it’s mostly completed in the reprocessing. This was what we tried to prevent starting in 1994, and we had it frozen for several years. But if they’ve moved it, if it’s reprocessed, if it’s out in the system, then what it mean is that even a pre-emptive strike on that facility won’t necessarily get the nuclear material, and you have to live with the consequences of that.

So that red line looks to me like that’s been crossed while we were engaged in Iraq. Now, the question is, “OK. So they’ve got the nuclear materials. What can you do now?” Well, you’re going to try to contain and isolate the regime. You’re going to increase the inspections of North Korean assets coming into countries like Japan. You’re going to encourage China to get tougher. You’re going to try to toughen up South Korea. You’re going to try to build relationships. You’re going to stop ships at sea. The next move will be up to the North Koreans. But what they’ve shown is that they are not always rational by our standards. They’re a paranoid regime. They do use force. They do take lessons from what we do, and so they’re somewhat unpredictable.

MR. RUSSERT: But we cannot allow them to sell or transport nuclear bombs.

GEN. CLARK: That’s correct. The question is: Can we physically prevent that?

MR. RUSSERT: Can we?

GEN. CLARK: Can we? I don’t know. My guess is it’ll be more difficult than we think.

MR. RUSSERT: And so what happens? We live with the consequences?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think there’s a possibility that the nuclear genie is out and will be out, and that’s why I’ve been so concerned about the North Korean problem for a long time.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iraq. Since the president declared the war had been, in fact, won on May 1, we are still losing more than one American soldier every day. How do you see the situation in Iraq this morning?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think there are three levels to be looked at. The first level is organized resistance. There is organized resistance in some parts of Iraq. And the U.S. forces over there have to deal with that organized resistance. They have got a big operation under way. It will produce some results. It will also make a lot of enemies, and it will make make some mistakes. And that’s the way military operations are. But that organized resistance right now is only regional. It’s localized. It seems to be mostly Ba’athist, and perhaps some foreign fighters, who have come in and worked with them. That might be manageable.

Second level is—superficially things seem to be getting much better. In Baghdad, there’s much less looting. People I talked to there, and who have been over there and are reporting, say, “Look, you’re not getting the right impression from the press. Things are a lot better. I mean, life is going on for the majority of the people.” But that takes me to the third level. Back to my Vietnam experience. For a lot of people in Vietnam, during the war, life pretty much went on. They still had to buy food, they had to buy gasoline, their families—you know, the children grew up and got married and so forth. Life goes on.

The third level is the level that we are not seeing here. It’s what’s really happening inside the Iraqi culture. Where are the Shiites heading? Who is influencing the Shiites? Are the Iranians going to be able to take over this movement and make it an anti-American movement? Is there so much Iraqi nationalism that they are going to come to us and tell us to leave? What about the Kurds? What’s really going on with Saddam Hussein behind the scenes, and the Sunnis and their connections with al-Qaeda, if any? So there are a lot of things at the third level that we should be very concerned about. And that third level is the—it’s the level of which we don’t hear very much in the press.

MR. RUSSERT: Were we properly prepared for the peace, for the reconstruction?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think the answer is obviously—it’s obvious we weren’t. We weren’t.


GEN. CLARK: I don’t know. There’s a variety of possible explanations on this. I was concerned from the outset when I talked to people on the inside that they had done a lot of thinking about how to fight a war. They hadn’t done their homework in terms of what happens next. I got various indications. They said, “Look, we got to focus on the war first.” Some people said, “We don’t want to talk about what happens next.” I think there were some assumptions that we would be more warmly welcomed than perhaps we were in some cases. I think there was an inclination to say that if you get overly focused on what happens next, you are going to lose sight of the real problem. The problem is weapons of mass destruction. The problem is keeping the American people’s attention focused so you can do this.

So I think that, for a lot of different reasons, the postwar planning, and the postwar effort, didn’t receive the priority that many of us felt that it should have.

MR. RUSSERT: How long will we be in Iraq?

GEN. CLARK: Several years. But I think the extent of it is uncertain.

MR. RUSSERT: What kind of force level?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think it depends really on what happens down at the third level and how much anti-Americanism there is. At some point, if all of the Iraqi people rise up, and there are hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the streets, saying, “Please leave. Thanks a lot for getting rid of Saddam, but please leave,” I think it will be very hard for the United States to stay. My guess is that the situation will be more ambiguous than that. There’s a power struggle that will emerge inside Iraq between the continuing leadership groups. And we’ll be there. We’ll be trying to sort that out. We’ll have other

reasons to be in the region. Several years, maybe—we’d like to get the numbers down to 75,000 troops or less. It’s not clear if that can be done. Let’s see the results of this operation and of the one afterwards over the summer.

Right now the United States Army is about 70 percent committed between Afghanistan, Iraq, the remnants of that’s in the Balkans. And we’ve got another 10 percent in Korea. So, I mean, there’s not a lot of flex right here for the United States Army. They’re the people on the ground. I know there’s every effort being made to reduce that force. But the simple fact is as long as there’s a threat over there, you can’t reduce the force. So I think we’re going to be there in a substantial number for a long time.

MR. RUSSERT: Can we have true security in Iraq as long as Saddam Hussein stays unknown?

GEN. CLARK: No. No. I was one of those before the war who said, “Don’t focus on Saddam Hussein. Go in there, take over the government and you’ll take care of things.” About halfway through when I saw the strength of the Fedayeen, then I realized that this was personal, and if we didn’t focus on Saddam Hussein, we didn’t eliminate the head of the government, that we wouldn’t create the sense of security that’s necessary to move ahead. So I think getting Saddam Hussein is very important.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think he’s still alive?

GEN. CLARK: Yes, I do.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the weapons of mass destruction and refer you to a column you wrote in the Times of London on April 9th, and I’ll show it to you and our viewers as well. “This is the real intelligence battle and the stakes could not be higher, for failure to find the weapons could prove to be a crushing blow to the proponents of the war [in Iraq], supercharge Arab anger and set back many efforts to end the remarkable diplomatic isolation of the United States and Britain.”

Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

GEN. CLARK: I think there are some mass destruction capabilities that are still inside Iraq. I think there’s some weapons that have been shipped over the border to Syria. But I don’t think we’re going to find that their capabilities provided the imminent threat that many feared in this country. So I think it’s going to be a tough search, but I think there’s stuff there.

MR. RUSSERT: Was there an intelligence failure? Was the intelligence hyped, as Senator Joe Biden said? Was the president misled, or did he mislead the American people?

GEN. CLARK: Well, several things. First of all, all of us in the community who read intelligence believe that Saddam wanted these capabilities and he had some. We struck very hard in December of ’98, did everything we knew, all of his facilities. I think it was an effective set of strikes. Tony Zinni commanded that, called Operation Desert Fox, and I think that set them back a long ways. But we never believed that that was the end of the problem. I think there was a certain amount of hype in the intelligence, and I think the information that’s come out thus far does indicate that there was a sort of selective reading of the intelligence in the sense of sort of building a case.

MR. RUSSERT: Hyped by whom?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I...

MR. RUSSERT: The CIA, or the president or vice president? Secretary of Defense, who?

GEN. CLARK: I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.

MR. RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?

GEN. CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, “You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.” I said, “But—I’m willing to say it but what’s your evidence?” And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had—Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and

didn’t talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.

MR. RUSSERT: We now know that—and Condoleezza Rice on this program last week, acknowledged that the president said something in the State of the Union message which was untrue, about uranium being shipped from Africa to Iraq. Something like that found its way into the State of the Union message and delivered to the world by the president of the United States. Should there now be open hearings by the Senate Intelligence Committee into this matter?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I don’t know if the hearings ought to be open or not because you’re dealing with classified information. But I do think this. I do think there has to be an accounting for this. I think really it goes back to 9/11. We’ve got a set of hearings that need to be conducted to look at what happened that caused 9/11. That really hasn’t been done yet. You know, a basic principle of military operations is you conduct an after-action review. When the action’s over you bring people together. The commander, the subordinates, the staff members. You ask yourself what happened, why, and how do we fix it the next time? As far as I know, this has never been done about the essential failure at 9/11. Then moving beyond that, it needs to be looked at in terms of the whole intelligence effort and how it’s connected to the policy effort. And these are matters that probably cannot be aired fully in public but I think that the American people and their representatives have to be involved in this. This is essential in terms of the legitimacy and trust in our elected leadership and our way of government.

MR. RUSSERT: The president said that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat based on the intelligence data he had seen. Did the president mislead the country?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think that’s to be determined. And there were many of us who said, “Where is the imminence of the threat?” We never saw the—I got people calling me up and they would say, “Well, now, look, don’t you think the president might know something you don’t know?” And I certainly hoped he did. But it was never revealed what the imminence of the threat was. And I think now that the operation’s over, it’s been successful, I think we do need to go back and look at this issue. But as I say, I’m not sure it can all be done in public.

MR. RUSSERT: Tom DeLay, the Republican leader in the House, has been very critical of you and others, and this is the way he put it in his words: “Blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and in some cases have their own agendas. ...General Clark is one of them that is running for president.”

GEN. CLARK: Well, it’s a funny thing. You know, I mean, one of the greatest charges you can make against someone is, “Don’t listen to him because he has presidential aspirations.” And that’s unfortunate. I think it’s a real mark against where we are in our political culture that if someone is—can be damned by saying that he has some kind of a hidden agenda. The simple truth is on this that I’ve tried to call the military side of it as accurately as I could, based on my own 34 years of experience in the military.

I was involved in preparing the doctrine, the forces. I led one of these operations. So I think I understand it. Furthermore, I have not been a candidate. I have not run. I have not taken any money. I have not been affiliated with a party. I wanted to see what was happening with the war and where the country is going. And so I didn’t do that. I know what Tom DeLay has said. But, you know, the simple truth is that a lot of people have come up to me afterwards; they’ve said, “Thanks a lot for, you know, being on television and saying what you said. I listened to it. It made sense.” And that’s as much as

I could do.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you like to be president?

GEN. CLARK: Well, in many respects, I’d like a chance to help this country. And I don’t know if that means being president or doing something else. But I’ve spent my entire life in public service, except for the last three years. And it’s very hard not to think in terms of the welfare of the country, and when you see the country in trouble, in challenge, yes, you’d like to pitch in and help.

MR. RUSSERT: Are you considering entering the presidential race?

GEN. CLARK: I’m going to have to consider it.

MR. RUSSERT: By when?

GEN. CLARK: Well, sometime over the next couple of months.

MR. RUSSERT: And your time line is by September...

GEN. CLARK: I don’t have a specific time line, Tim. But I do have to consider it.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you two Web sites that have been developed, and I’ll put them on the screen for you. There they are. DraftWesleyClark. And now in New Hampshire, there is this radio ad. Let’s listen:

(Audiotape, radio ad):

Announcer: General Wesley Clark: Vietnam combat veteran, Rhodes scholar, four-star general, business leader, and with your support—the next president of the United States. Paid for by DraftWesleyClark.com.

(End audiotape)

GEN. CLARK: That’s amazing.

MR. RUSSERT: Do up want them to continue those advertisements?

GEN. CLARK: Well, you know, all I’ve—I don’t have anything to do with that group. And I’m enormously impressed by their energy and so forth. I’m going have to give some serious consideration

to this. And I’ve been—I’ve been saying that this is really about ideas and trying to get the ideas out. And I’ve been very grateful for the opportunity to do that. Maybe there’s something more to it.

MR. RUSSERT: You have voted in Arkansas in the Democratic primaries.

GEN. CLARK: I did.

MR. RUSSERT: So if you did run for president, you would run as a Democrat?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I haven’t said that. I haven’t made any official moves. But this is a two-party country. There’s no successful third party bids. And, you know, it’s just—that’s the way it is. And I am concerned about many things in the country, not only foreign policy but domestic as well.

MR. RUSSERT: So you would run as a Democrat?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I haven’t come out and said that point blank. I mean, I think that’s another step that would have to be taken.

MR. RUSSERT: But you wouldn’t challenge George Bush in the Republican primaries?

GEN. CLARK: I haven’t considered that, no.

MR. RUSSERT: So it would be in the Democratic primary?

GEN. CLARK: You’re leading the witness here. I mean, that’s a step that I’ll have to work through along with everything else. You know, I’ve been non-partisan. I’ve got—I’m a centrist on most of these issues, and I’ve got people after me from both sides of the aisle. That are—a lot of Republicans have talked to me and they’ve said, “Look, we’re very concerned about where the country is. We’re moving into—not only have we done a war that’s essentially an elective war that’s put us in trouble afterwards, in an indefinite commitment”—and by the way I don’t hear—they don’t hear the strong voices out there

about mission creep and exit strategy that dominated the 1990s dialogue. But a lot of Republicans have come to me and said, you know, “What does this mean?” And they’ve said, “On the other hand, we always believed that we should be the party of fiscal responsibility. And where are we going with the tax cuts? What does this mean for the future of the country?” So I’m getting, you know, interest from both sides, really...

MR. RUSSERT: What do you...

GEN. CLARK: ...and just haven’t moved past that.

MR. RUSSERT: What do you think of the Bush tax cuts? Would you have voted for them?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I would not have supported them, no.

MR. RUSSERT: Why not?

GEN. CLARK: Well, first of all, they were not efficient in terms of stimulating the kind of demand we need to move the economy back into a recovery mode, a strong recovery and a recovery that provides jobs. There are more effective ways of using the resources. Secondly, the tax cuts weren’t fair. I mean, the people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. . In other words, it’s not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don’t have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life. When you have more money, you have room for the luxuries and you should—one of the luxuries and one of the privileges we enjoy is living in this great country.

So I think that the tax cuts were unfair. And, finally, I mean, you look at the long-run health of the country and the size of the deficit that we’ve incurred and a substantial part of that deficit is result of the tax cuts. You have to ask: “Is this wise, long-run policy?” I think the answer is no.

MR. RUSSERT: As president, would you rescind them?

GEN. CLARK: You have to look at each part of them, but there are—you’ve got to put the country back on a fiscally sound basis, whether that is in suspending parts that haven’t been implemented or rescinding parts, that’d have to be looked at.

MR. RUSSERT: They’d say, “Candidate Clark is for raising taxes.”

GEN. CLARK: Well, you know, I think that what candidate Clark, if there is such a candidate, would be for is he would be for doing the right thing for government. You know, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld put it this way when he was talking about how long to stay in Iraq. He said, “We’re going to get out as soon as possible, but we’re going to stay as long as necessary.” Well, it’s more than a clever formulation. It’s the right formulation. I think it’s the same thing about taxes. Taxes are something that you want to have as little of as possible, but you need as much revenue as necessary to meet people’s needs for services. The American people on the one hand don’t like taxes. None of us do, but on the other hand, we expect the government to do certain things for us.

MR. RUSSERT: The attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft, wants to expand the Patriot Act which would give him more powers in terms of apprehending terrorists, identifying people who are giving “material support.” Would you support that effort?

GEN. CLARK: Well, not without a thorough review of where we are right now with the current Patriot Act. I think one of the risks you have in this operation is that you’re giving up some of the essentials of what it is in America to have justice, liberty and the rule of law. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you abridge those rights to prosecute the war on terrorists. So I think that needs to be carefully looked at.

MR. RUSSERT: You and other former generals filed an amicus brief in support of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action plan.

GEN. CLARK: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you in part what the University of Michigan plan is. They award points to an applicant. If you get a 3.0-grade-point average you get 60 points. If have alumni or legacy parents, 4 points. A perfect S.A.T., 12 points. Athlete, 20 points. If you’re a minority, just for being black or Hispanic, you get 20 points. Many people say that’s not color blind. That is reverse discrimination. What’s your response?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I’m in favor of the principle of affirmative action. Whether that’s the right plan or not, and whether that should be 10 points, not 20 points, whether it should be, let’s say, an income level cutoff there at which you don’t get the points if you’re above a certain income, you can tool with the plan. But what you can’t have is you can’t have a society in which we’re not acknowledging that there is a problem in this society with racial discrimination. There is, there has been and the reason so many of us filed this brief is we saw the benefits of affirmative action in the United States armed forces. It was essential in restoring the integrity and the effectiveness of the armed forces.

MR. RUSSERT: In the brief you talked about combating discrimination. Many people would point to the military’s policy on gays as being discriminatory. Are you in favor of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military?

GEN. CLARK: I’m not sure that I’d be in favor of that policy. I supported that policy. That was a policy that was given. I don’t think it works. It works better in some circumstances than it does in others. But essentially we’ve got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, always have had, always will have. And I think that, you know, we should welcome people that want to serve. But we also have to maintain consistent standards of discipline; we have to have effective units.

So I think that’s an issue that the leaders in the armed forces are going to have to work with and resolve.

I do think that the sort of temperature of the issue has changed over the decade. People were much more irate about this issue in the early ’90s than I found in the late ’90s, for whatever reason, younger people coming in. It just didn’t seem to be the same emotional hot button issue by ’98, ’99, that it had been in ’92, ’93.

MR. RUSSERT: So you have no problem having openly gay Americans serve in the military as long as they abided by the same code of conduct that heterosexuals abided by?

GEN. CLARK: Well, the British have a system that—they put this in the British system. They call it— they said, “Don’t ask, don’t misbehave.” I think the leaders in the armed forces will look at that some day. But I have to tell you, also, we have got a lot of other issues on the plate for the United States armed forces, and this is one among many. And the men and women charged with those responsibilities need to look at those issues. But this is only one issue.

MR. RUSSERT: But it’s an important one to many Americans. Parameters, which is a journal published by the U.S. Army War College Quarterly, has an article by Professor Aaron Belkan of the University of California. He says that 24 countries now have gays in the military, most of our NATO partners. Would you allow American troops to serve in joint exercises with NATO partners that had gays in the military?

GEN. CLARK: They already are. And they served together in Kosovo and in Bosnia and so forth.

MR. RUSSERT: That being the point, should the United States not allow openly gay people to serve in the military?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think we need to charge the men and women responsible for the armed forces to come forward with that answer. I think that has to come from them based on what we need for the armed forces, as well as, you know, their concerns about society as a whole.

MR. RUSSERT: But you’d look at changing the policy?

GEN. CLARK: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: When you left your command, there was an article in The Washington Post on—in July of 1999, which I want to talk about and give you a chance to talk about it. And here it is on the screen.

“General Clark to Leave Top Post at NATO. After months of tension with the Pentagon over the conduct of NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark was abruptly informed that his term as the alliance’s top commander will end...the decision to end Clark’s term a few months short of three years was unusual, and some military officials said it may be seen by his congressional supporters and among European allies as an affront to the general who led NATO to victory. ...Informed of the decision less than an hour before a reporter called seeking his response, Clark later issued a statement accepting the change...”

Why were you asked to step down?

GEN. CLARK: Well, the honest answer is I don’t know. And I never really asked. I was given a number of reasons. I don’t know. It’s one of those things when it happens, it happens. You know, you work for the president and the secretary of Defense and when—I was told that was the decision, that was the decision.

MR. RUSSERT: Was it a performance issue?

GEN. CLARK: Not to my knowledge.

MR. RUSSERT: And you’re not the least bit curious?

GEN. CLARK: Yeah, I have been curious, Tim. It hurt. But, you know, you just have to move past things like that in your life. I mean, one of my staff members finally, you know, asked somebody months later, “Why did you do that? Why did do you that?” He asked somebody on somebody else’s staff. And everybody had a little bit different explanation. And I don’t know if you even went to those people today and said, “Why did you do that?,” I don’t know if there’s a reason for it. It was a feeling. I was put in a position—I was working in two chains of command. One was a NATO chain, where I was getting instructions from the State Department and White House through the NATO secretary-general in my duty as NATO commander. Another was through the U.S. military chain. And it was the sort of familiar Pentagon, State Department and White House rivalry.

The Pentagon saw the operation in Kosovo as a secondary issue. It’s, like, you know, we’ve got a lot of problems, we’re preparing for two major regional conflicts, we’re trying to get a supplemental appropriation, we need money, we’re working on this. Don’t bother us with more problems from Europe. I mean, this is something we don’t have to deal with, whereas the White House saw it as, and the State Department saw it as, and NATO saw it as, “This is make or break for the alliance. If the alliance doesn’t grip this successfully, the alliance is discredited. You must successful in Bosnia. And if you allow what’s happening in Kosovo to happen, you’re going to cause the alliance to fail.”

So I was caught in the middle. I had to do what was right. That’s why when you have a title like supreme allied commander, you realize there’s no one else that can quite see it that way. I’d go back to the Pentagon and try to explain it to people. I’d say, “Look, I’ve got the British three star on the ground, I’ve got 10,000 troops there in Serb artillery range, if they attack into Macedonia,” and from the Pentagon I’d get—from top leaders, they’d say, “Really? I mean, we didn’t know this. I mean, we’re not—we’re just worried about, you know, what if Senator Stevens, or the Appropriations Committee doesn’t support our supplemental?” And so I’m not saying that they were negligent, it’s just differences in perspective.

And what you would hope is that the chain of command is strong enough that people are respected enough, as individuals and as leaders, that they can bring their differences in perspective forward, that you can resolve these things without getting them entrapped in personal relationships. For whatever reason, in this case, it didn’t work. And that’s what happened.

MR. RUSSERT: Before you go, would you accept the vice presidency if offered?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I haven’t moved into considerations of things like that, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: But you’re...

GEN. CLARK: Right now I’m really happy that I’ve had an opportunity to talk. I speak a lot around the country. I’ve got another book under way called “Winning Modern War.” I’m going to talk about Iraq and terrorism and where we are going, and our foreign policy. I’m enjoying a business career, and I’m going to seriously consider what happens. But you’re asking me too far ahead here.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, if you decide to run for president, I hope you come back and talk about the issues some more.

GEN. CLARK: Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: And we’ll be right back.

The US did not have a progressive tax early on, because it was deemed unconstitutional. That did notchange until 1913. I am sure Marx would be proud

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We were founded on the principle of progressive tax. A country that didn't even HAVE an income tax due to the very nature of the controversy surrounding giving individual's hard earned money to the government, but, this is now a founding principle. The tenticles of the left are seen here, entwined, as normal, with historical revisionism and a cult like recitation of things they believe.

Perhaps Clark is a liberal, but my guess is he's a guy on the right. And he's bought into "founding principles" of our country being a tax system that wasn't even around 100 years ago. The world is a scary place when those who would lead us are too stupid to know the truth.


Research has revealed that Clark is a Dem. This worries me much less. He's just stating the party line :).

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That's the kind of attitude that drives me crazy and makes me more in favor of term limits for elected officials. I know Clark is not currently and elected official, but I can't stand how Congress treats our money like it's their own. They are so out of touch with reality up in their untouchable boxes that they think they have the right and the duty to continue to charge the working people more and more for their stupid little pet projects.

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Exactly right, Golgo.

I was never for term limits, but I have become so. The intent of our framers was not to create an elite class of professional politicians paid handsomely and crafted with lifetime benefits so as to make leaving impossible. The intent was to put ordinary citizens into leadership positions and each citizen would be counted on to help with their civic duty in some way.

The problem seems to be that since these careerists -- on BOTH sides of the isle -- have not really ever experienced the reality of their policies in the world, they simply have lost touch with what people would actually want. But, given how politically unaware we are starting to become as society, we're likely to lose ground before we can gain it.

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"From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."

-Karl Marx

"To each according to his ability."

-Any capitalist

And note fundamental distinction between each statement, which is their respective, unspoken assumptions. The entity that Karl Marx is referring to that would establish/enforce the "to" and "from" in his statements is government.

The capitalist OTOH assumes that his reward comes from himself and his labors.

General Clarke, who made his mark on the government dole, is not where I'll go for my history lessons or political or economic theory, thank you very much. This country was "founded on progressive income tax" about the way it was founded on nuclear energy. :shootinth

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