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Clark explains Iraq inconstancies

Politicians Wesley Clark 2003

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#1 Rov Judicata

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 11:09 AM

http://www.boston.co...essage_on_iraq/

Quote

That column largely backs up Clark's contention that he favored a more patient approach. But why did he tell the AP that he supported the congressional resolution authorizing force, and, further, that he would have advised Swett to vote for it had she been in Congress?

That query brought this admission from Clark.

"Because I wasn't following the resolution and I didn't even know what was in the resolution," said Clark. "My message is that I am not a political consultant, period."

Clark added: "Had I been in Congress I would not have voted for it because I would have recognized that the administration was going to use it as an authorization to go to war."

So, to recapitulate: Clark says he didn't know what was in the resolution because he wasn't paying close attention. But had he been in Congress, he would have been aware of the details, and, having known them, his preference for patient internationalism, plus his suspicion of the administration's motives, would have led him to oppose the resolution.

Plausible? Perhaps. And yet, it's an explanation that stops somewhat short of inspiring confidence in the foreign-policy expertise of the Democrats' newest presidential candidate.

... what? The lead complaint-- aired in the media and newspapers all over the world-- was that the president didn't have to return to congress for authorization, and Clark didn't know?

How is that possible? Unless this is a blatant misrepresentation-- like the time travel thing-- this is an extremely grave issue for Clark.
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#2 the 'Hawk

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 11:22 AM

I'm not going to say anything on this issue--- I am not a political consultant, period.

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#3 G1223

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 03:02 PM

So Clark's idea was we out wait Saddam and after he dies we then go back to doing nothing.

Yes sounds just like I would expect of a guy who would have waited till the muslumis had all been ethniclly cleasened before taking action.

Why do we need a guy who makes France look decisvie in comparison for president?
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#4 the 'Hawk

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 03:27 PM

^ Where ARE you getting that from? I didn't read anything about 'ethnic cleansing' or 'out-waiting Saddam' in what Rov quoted--- and the France-bashing is so last-regime....

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#5 Rov Judicata

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 03:33 PM

Agreed with Hawk.

The issue with Clark here isn't even over policy; it's just a shocking lack of political knowledge. If this is true, then I don't even see how Clark can be a viable candidate. This wasn't trivia, or the name of some foreign dignitary; it was a piece of legisltation that has staggering constitutional implications... and Clark wasn't paying attention?

It's just incredible. I'm shocked that anybody even tangentially involved with politics wasn't aware of that.

Worse than that, he endorsed it... which means he comes out and gives advice over things he simply doesn't know anything about.

I'm holding out hope that this is some sort of misunderstanding or misrepresentation. I really don't want to believe that Clark could be this out to lunch. We'll see.
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#6 G1223

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 03:36 PM

We must wait for a UN Mandate= We must wait for France to come around to our idea which means wairting till hell freezes over and thaws a half dozen times before we can take action.

The man was fired,not allowed to retire but fired,from his job as head of NATO for his part in Bosnia situation?

It was when Bosnia turned to Koslvo ( I guess there is a limit on how much killing Bill can allow take place before taking action) Finally the wheels started to spin (Have have traction) and we stopped the mess after nearly ten years we finally had enough.
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#7 the 'Hawk

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 03:59 PM

G1223, on Oct 24 2003, 04:36 PM, said:

We must wait for a UN Mandate= We must wait for France to come around to our idea which means wairting till hell freezes over and thaws a half dozen times before we can take action.
But that's not necessarily accurate. France could've supported the war and Russia still would've needed work. Or China. Saying that the buck stops with France is short-sighted. And as I said, France-bashing just isn't funny.

Quote

The man was fired,not allowed to retire but fired,from his job as head of NATO for his part in Bosnia situation?

I don't know, I don't care, and I don't see how this is related to Iraq.

Quote

It was when Bosnia turned to Koslvo ( I guess there is a limit on how much killing Bill can allow take place before taking action) Finally the wheels started to spin (Have have traction) and we stopped the mess after nearly ten years we finally had enough.

Um.... what exactly is that supposed to mean? I got the Clinton-bashing part, but how does Clark's track record as a general matter worth a damn regarding an entirely political matter such as the resolution in question? Unless you're simply here to bash General Clark, in which case I'll just smile, nod and pretend to listen.

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#8 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 05:05 PM

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Rov: The issue with Clark here isn't even over policy; it's just a shocking lack of political knowledge.

This is shocking in what sense?  I’d expect nothing more from General ‘Strangelove’ Clark.  Can we expect wise decisions from a man who could have started a World War all because the Russians made him look bad.  Clark is nothing more than a bad general that climbed the ranks because he was good at kissing the right locations, had connections, and knew how to backstab correctly. It looks like he is the type of hothead that makes McCain look stables.  When it came down to real pressure he cracked with a major incident only being averted because of the wisdom of a British Officer.


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Hawk: I don't know, I don't care, and I don't see how this is related to Iraq.

A high-ranking officer was relieved of his post in a most unceremonious manner after a very questionable incident that could have resulted in a skirmish between the two most powerful countries on the Earth.  I’d say I’d call that general’s logic into question for the rest of his life.    

Quote

Hawk: I got the Clinton-bashing part, but how does Clark's track record as a general matter worth a damn regarding an entirely political matter such as the resolution in question?

Clark’s Bad Judgment = Potential War + United States + Russia = Very bad political judgment.  Clark screwed up what amounts to a no brainer.
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#9 MuseZack

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 05:45 PM

Yeah, a general who chased Milosevic out of Kosovo, kept the NATO alliance together, led it to victory, and saved thousands of lives without the loss of a single allied soldier.  Sounds like a real monster to me.
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#10 Bad Wolf

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 06:02 PM

Yeah but isn't the apparent lack of political knowledge a genuine cause for concern for a presidential candidate?  Moreover isn't the apparent lack of concern with being up on what's going on unless he's right in the middle of it a further cause for concern?

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#11 MuseZack

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 06:10 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Oct 24 2003, 11:02 PM, said:

Yeah but isn't the apparent lack of political knowledge a genuine cause for concern for a presidential candidate?  Moreover isn't the apparent lack of concern with being up on what's going on unless he's right in the middle of it a further cause for concern?

Lil
But that isn't what he said at all.  Like a lot of us, Clark actually thought that the Bush Administration was using the authorization as a threat to get the inspectors back into Iraq, not as a blank check for war whenever they felt like it.  At the time of the authorization, Clark wasn't in Congress and wasn't privy to everything that was going on.   His main mistake in the first place was to violate a cardinal rule in dealing with the Washington press corps:  don't answer hypothetical questions, especially when they're being used to play cynical "gotcha" games.

Z
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#12 Bad Wolf

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 06:16 PM

Quote

But why did he tell the AP that he supported the congressional resolution authorizing force, and, further, that he would have advised Swett to vote for it had she been in Congress?

That query brought this admission from Clark.

"Because I wasn't following the resolution and I didn't even know what was in the resolution," said Clark. "My message is that I am not a political consultant, period."

I don't know Zack.  Seems to me he's saying that he went along with a resolution but wouldn't have had he actually known what it was about but it's okay that he didn't know what it was about because he didn't know what it was about.

Saying that he wouldn't have voted for it if he HAD known what it was about doesn't help.

What am I missing here?

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#13 the 'Hawk

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 06:32 PM

MuseZack, on Oct 24 2003, 07:10 PM, said:

At the time of the authorization, Clark wasn't in Congress and wasn't privy to everything that was going on.
Yeah, and that's probably the right answer. But in Washington there's always that subtle difference between the right answer and the answer you tell the media. I mean, if anything, Clark should've simply said 'no comment' and left it at that. Giving the press leeway in which to play their bit --as you mentioned-- was probably the big mistake.

But at the same time, if he didn't make an attempt to clarify his statements, he'd get villified for perceived inconsistency instead of perceived ignorance. So, really, is there anything he can do at this point except pick a line and go forward on it? I don't know that there is.

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#14 bandit

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 06:35 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Oct 24 2003, 05:16 PM, said:

Quote

But why did he tell the AP that he supported the congressional resolution authorizing force, and, further, that he would have advised Swett to vote for it had she been in Congress?

That query brought this admission from Clark.

"Because I wasn't following the resolution and I didn't even know what was in the resolution," said Clark. "My message is that I am not a political consultant, period."

I don't know Zack.  Seems to me he's saying that he went along with a resolution but wouldn't have had he actually known what it was about but it's okay that he didn't know what it was about because he didn't know what it was about.

Saying that he wouldn't have voted for it if he HAD known what it was about doesn't help.

What am I missing here?

Lil
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#15 Rov Judicata

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 10:45 PM

MuseZack, on Oct 24 2003, 04:10 PM, said:

Like a lot of us, Clark actually thought that the Bush Administration was using the authorization as a threat to get the inspectors back into Iraq, not as a blank check for war whenever they felt like it. At the time of the authorization, Clark wasn't in Congress and wasn't privy to everything that was going on.

No way. Everybody knew that Bush wasn't coming back; that was a chief criticism. I'll dig up some hard news story if it's neccasary.

How can we trust any position he takes? Is it what he truly believes, or is he just being trendy? If he says, "Bush's tax cuts should be repealed", does he really know if that's his true opinion? If he comes out against the Patriot Act, does he really know the consequences of pro and con? Is he an internationalist for philosophical reasons, or just because it's the current Democratic talking point?

I don't have the same criticisms the others in this thread do, but this is extremely grave to me. I respect a man who says what he means, and means what he says, even if I totally disagree. Clark can no longer claim that quality, and that's a shame.

I am open to an alternative to Bush. I think 2004 may be time for a change. The options, however, are making Bush look far better than he actually is.
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~~ Josh, winning the argument.

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#16 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 11:59 PM

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Zack: Yeah, a general who chased Milosevic out of Kosovo, kept the NATO alliance together, led it to victory, and saved thousands of lives without the loss of a single allied soldier. Sounds like a real monster to me.

I assume just getting the job done does qualify someone as a good stable leader and how shall I put it not a monster? If that is that case I assume we can toss out monster status for Stalin then?  I mean after all the Red Army bled the Wehrmacht white and is largely responsible for the crushing of Germany.  We can ignore the issue of the millions that died at the hands of Stalin and his purges because of that.  The lesson is just because someone gets the job done doesn’t mean they are the person you want holding the reins of power.

I’d severely question where I suggested that Clark is some sort of monster Zack?  I’d be nodding my head affirmative if you said for example I believed he was a hotheaded political general adept at backstabbing who has the strategic and political sense of a zucchini; along with fact that he happened tried to start World War III because the Russians made him look bad.  I also have to say getting relieved of your command while you are at a dinner with a bigwig isn’t exactly a sign of the glowing success that your command happened to be.
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#17 MuseZack

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 12:33 AM

CJ AEGIS, on Oct 25 2003, 04:59 AM, said:

Quote

Zack: Yeah, a general who chased Milosevic out of Kosovo, kept the NATO alliance together, led it to victory, and saved thousands of lives without the loss of a single allied soldier. Sounds like a real monster to me.

I assume just getting the job done does qualify someone as a good stable leader and how shall I put it not a monster? If that is that case I assume we can toss out monster status for Stalin then?  I mean after all the Red Army bled the Wehrmacht white and is largely responsible for the crushing of Germany.  We can ignore the issue of the millions that died at the hands of Stalin and his purges because of that.  The lesson is just because someone gets the job done doesn’t mean they are the person you want holding the reins of power.

I’d severely question where I suggested that Clark is some sort of monster Zack?  I’d be nodding my head affirmative if you said for example I believed he was a hotheaded political general adept at backstabbing who has the strategic and political sense of a zucchini; along with fact that he happened tried to start World War III because the Russians made him look bad.  I also have to say getting relieved of your command while you are at a dinner with a bigwig isn’t exactly a sign of the glowing success that your command happened to be.
Hey CJ, instead of just regurgitating the GOP smears against Clark, why don't you try doing a little bit of independent research?  You can start here at
http://www.boston.co.../19/clarks_war/ for an article that looks fairly at both sides of how Clark handled the Kosovo war.

You completely mischaracterized what happened at the Pristina airport based on one inflammatory quote from General Jackson, while not even mentioning the actual errors Clark made in the course of the campaign.   Taking aggressive action to try and keep the Russians from undermining NATO's mission by carving up Kosovo into zones of control is pretty far from "trying to start WW3."

And your flippant comparison of Wesley Clark (someone who served his country with honor for three decades) to Stalin, one of history's worst mass murderers, is frankly a cheap shot and unworthy of you.  

It's over a year from the general election in 2004, and things are obviously going to get heated in here.  There's no need to add fuel to the fire with gratuitous character assassination.  I don't think much of Bush as a president, but for the most part I've tried to keep my criticisms of the man based on policy (not always successfully, I admit, but I'm trying) and even praise him when I thought it was due.  

Oh, and if you're still wondering where you suggested that Clark is some sort of monster, I'd point toward your "Strangelove" crack.  Since the title character in that movie is a sinister ex-Nazi scientist obsessed with nuclear war, I'd say that pretty clearly fits the definition of "monster."
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#18 GiGi

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 12:35 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Oct 24 2003, 12:33 PM, said:

The issue with Clark here isn't even over policy; it's just a shocking lack of political knowledge. If this is true, then I don't even see how Clark can be a viable candidate. This wasn't trivia, or the name of some foreign dignitary; it was a piece of legisltation that has staggering constitutional implications... and Clark wasn't paying attention?

It's just incredible. I'm shocked that anybody even tangentially involved with politics wasn't aware of that.

Worse than that, he endorsed it... which means he comes out and gives advice over things he simply doesn't know anything about.
Hmmmm, the exact same thing can be said of Schwarzenegger, didn't stop him one bit did it?
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#19 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 01:12 AM

^

True but if Ahnold is subject to criticism for it, it seems to me that Clark is also...

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#20 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 01:52 AM

Quote

Zack: Hey CJ, instead of just regurgitating the GOP smears against Clark, why don't you try doing a little bit of independent research?

I assume that the Guardian then is a GOP smear paper against Clark?* :blink:  Now if you anyone wants an excellent read by the Guardian about how a General should behave they did a fine report on Tommy Franks.  Back to Clark, that isn’t counting the numerous other Liberal sources that lashed out at Clark about his conduct.  I seem to recall you often purporting The Guardian to be a very reputable source of information when it supports your arguments.  Or are you now saying the Guardian might be prone to say exaggeration and false reporting of issues?  

How about we look at what Counterpunch that bastion of nasty Republican conservatism says about Clark?    
A Vain, Pompous, Brown-noser: Meet the Real Gen. Clark

Quote

"The poster child for everything that is wrong with the GO (general officer) corps," exclaims one colonel, who has had occasion to observe Clark in action, citing, among other examples, his command of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood from 1992 to 1994.
While Clark's official Pentagon biography proclaims his triumph in "transitioning the Division into a rapidly deployable force" this officer describes the "1st Horse Division" as "easily the worst division I have ever seen in 25 years of doing this stuff."
Such strong reactions are common. A major in the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado when Clark was in command there in the early 1980s described him as a man who "regards each and every one of his subordinates as a potential threat to his career".

Quote

Clark's demeanor to those above is, of course, very different, a mode of behavior that has earned him rich dividends over the years. Thus, early in 1994, he was a candidate for promotion from two to three star general. Only one hurdle remained - a war game exercise known as the Battle Command Training Program in which Clark would have to maneuver his division against an opposing force. The commander of the opposing force, or "OPFOR" was known for the military skill with which he routinely demolished opponents.
But Clark's patrons on high were determined that no such humiliation should be visited on their favorite. Prior to the exercise therefore, strict orders came down that the battle should go Clark's way. Accordingly the OPFOR reduced in strength by half, thus enabling Clark, despite deploying tactics of signal ineptitude, to triumph. His third star came down a few weeks later.
I assume Clark for all his brilliance at his disposal can’t stand up to a Cav Regiment when he has an entire division.  So instead he gets to play games against a battalion sized OPFOR.  It might explain why in Kosovo we had such a hard time actually killing any enemy armor; you know those 100 or so tanks Clark claimed we killed when we had somewhere between 20 and 30 kills.   Clark probably didn't know what hostile tanks were since he always arranged to win excercises.

Quote

Not only were his men using unconventional tactics, they were also humiliating Blue Force generals who might nurture resentment against the NTC commander and thus discommode his career at some future date. To the disgust of the junior OPFOR officers Clark therefore frequently fought to lose, sending his men on suicidal attacks in order that the Blue Forces should go home happy and owing debts of gratitude to their obliging foe.

Quote

Zack: You completely mischaracterized what happened at the Pristina airport based on one inflammatory quote from General Jackson, while not even mentioning the actual errors Clark made in the course of the campaign. Taking aggressive action to try and keep the Russians from undermining NATO's mission by carving up Kosovo into zones of control is pretty far from "trying to start WW3."

What is General Jackson’s position in the British chain of command right now?  Somehow I think he would be the Chief of the General Staff if the British regarded his choice to disobey Clark as inflammatory.  Instead we have Clark with his rear landing in the street after being kicked out of his command.  You know that sounds like an excellent reward for his role in orchestrating the “successful” war.

In addition I have to ask.  The Russians were allies in Kosovo right?  Is it ever wise to take aggressive action against an ally in an uncontrolled situation that could easily turn into a shooting conflict? Especially when that ally happens to be the next most powerful country in the world.  How were those British troops supposed to stop the Russians if they pressed the issue or if the Russians beat them to the airport?  The reality of the situation is Clark lost his temper and screwed up bug time with General Jackson saving us from one very potentially nasty situation.      

Quote

Zack: And your flippant comparison of Wesley Clark (someone who served his country with honor for three decades) to Stalin, one of history's worst mass murderers, is frankly a cheap shot and unworthy of you.

You mean by treating junior officers like potential rivals and trash?  By not respecting the enlisted ranks who served under him?  By endangering the national security of this nation by first compromising the OPFOR’s capability to win for political kissing up and then by weakening the OPFOR so he can win.   What I see rather than a man seeking to serve his country with honor is someone seeking to do everything possible to serve his own purposes.  I don’t see any assertion by myself of Clark being linked to Staling.  My statement amounted to the fact that just because someone appears to get the job done doesn’t mean they are a capable leader.  


Quote

Zack: Oh, and if you're still wondering where you suggested that Clark is some sort of monster, I'd point toward your "Strangelove" crack.

That was more in reference to Clark’s propensity toward blundering toward World War III.  Next time I’ll play nicer and catch his bungling side by referring to him as General “Failsafe” Clark.

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 25 October 2003 - 10:02 AM.

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