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Clark explains Iraq inconstancies

Politicians Wesley Clark 2003

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#21 G1223

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 02:06 AM

Ouch nicely said CJ. I knew he had screwed the pooch with the mess in the Balkins just not how badly.
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#22 MuseZack

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 10:42 AM

CJ AEGIS, on Oct 25 2003, 06:52 AM, said:

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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

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"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".

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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.

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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.

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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.      

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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.  


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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.
First, let me address Rov's point.  A lot of people voted for the authorization thinking they were giving him leverage to seek disarmarment.  Indeed, Bush encouraged this perception with statements like this one (made in October 2002 in the Rose Garden with members of both parties standing by his side):   "None of us here today desire to see military conflict, because we know the awful nature of war. Our country values life, and never seeks war unless it is essential to security and to justice. America's leadership and willingness to use force, confirmed by the Congress, is the best way to ensure compliance and avoid conflict. Saddam must disarm, period. If, however, he chooses to do otherwise, if he persists in his defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable."

Now, on to CJ's points, such as they are.  First, quoting a Counterpunch article that's entirely reliant on anonymous sources?  Nice.  Why didn't you just go the whole hog and quote the LaRouchites or the World Socialist website?  For the record, Counterpunch was a pro-Milosevic publication during the Balkan wars and as such shouldn't be regarded as a reliable source on the subject.  In particular, they took delight in repeating Col. David Hackworth's slam against Clark as "the ultimate perfumed prince."  Strangely, they're not quoting Hackworth anymore.  Maybe it's because here's what Hackworth is saying now:  

"No doubt he's made his share of enemies. He doesn't suffer fools easily and wouldn't have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he's ripped into during the past three decades.  

Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a "Perfumed Prince." Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time."

http://www.wnd.com/n...RTICLE_ID=34738

And on the subject of Kosovo, as I've explained to you before when the subject has come up, the Russians were not allies in the operation, they were rivals to NATO and longtime Serb allies who tried to bail out their longtime buddy Milosevic by sneaking troops into the Pristina airport as a wedge to carve out an independent sector of control in Kosovo.  And if you think that Yeltsin was really going to start WW3 over British troops blockading an airport occupied by 200 Russian soldiers who hadn't even brought food with them, then you're pretty much alone.  No serious observer thinks there was an actual threat of war.  General Michael Jackson was being hyperbolic, which isn't terribly surprising coming from a man his own troops nicknamed "the Prince of Darkness" and who has the dubious distinction of having been the second in command at the massacre of thirteen unarmed Irish protestors on "Bloody Sunday."

Even General Shelton, who isn't one of Clark's biggest fans, supported him on this decision:

WASHINGTON -  General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the details Thursday of what he said was the ''troubling'' refusal by the British general commanding Kosovo peacekeeping forces to obey an order from NATO's supreme commander that he block the unexpected arrival of Russian troops.

General Shelton, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, quoted the British officer, General Michael Jackson, as telling the supreme commander, General Wesley Clark: ''No, I'm not going to do that. It's not worth starting World War III.''

  Moscow caught its Western allies off-guard by sending men toward Pristina on June 11. Fearful that the 200 Russians might grab territory around the airport there, giving them a possibly permanent zone of control and possibly unraveling a delicate peace plan, General Clark, with General Shelton's support, ordered alliance troops to block more Russians from arriving.

But General Jackson, reports have said, feared upsetting his own negotiations with Serbian officers to pull out of Kosovo. In opposing General Clark, he is said to have had the backing of the British government.


http://www.iht.com/I.../bk091099a.html

So you either still don't understand Kosovo or you're being deliberately obtuse.
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#23 Rov Judicata

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 02:18 PM

GiGi, on Oct 24 2003, 10:35 PM, said:

Hmmmm, the exact same thing can be said of Schwarzenegger, didn't stop him one bit did it?
You'll notice that I didn't support Arnold either. ;).

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First, let me address Rov's point. A lot of people voted for the authorization thinking they were giving him leverage to seek disarmarment.

That's giving Clark the benefit of the doubt to an extreme degree; how, then, do you explain that Clark  wouldn't have supported the resolution if he was paying attention?

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Indeed, Bush encouraged this perception with statements like this one (made in October 2002 in the Rose Garden with members of both parties standing by his side): "None of us here today desire to see military conflict, because we know the awful nature of war. Our country values life, and never seeks war unless it is essential to security and to justice. America's leadership and willingness to use force, confirmed by the Congress, is the best way to ensure compliance and avoid conflict. Saddam must disarm, period. If, however, he chooses to do otherwise, if he persists in his defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable."

How does that reinforce the perception he had to go back to congress? Congress already confirmed the use of force; that was the whole point of the bill.

How could it possibly work any other way? I'm trying to imagine Saddam in a bunker:

Lieutanant Achmad: Sir! Terrible news! The US Congress just gave Bush approval to use force if they say it's okay!
Saddam: Ack! What was the situation before?
Achmad: Bush could use force, so long as Congress said it was okay!
Saddam: Is it too late to surrender?

The whole point-- and one reason the Democratic party complained so bitterly-- is that the administration forced congress to make its position clear before the midterm election.
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#24 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 03:54 PM

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MuseZack: First, quoting a Counterpunch article that's entirely reliant on anonymous sources? Nice. Why didn't you just go the whole hog and quote the LaRouchites or the World Socialist website? For the record, Counterpunch was a pro-Milosevic publication during the Balkan wars and as such shouldn't be regarded as a reliable source on the subject. In particular, they took delight in repeating Col. David Hackworth's slam against Clark as "the ultimate perfumed prince." Strangely, they're not quoting Hackworth anymore. Maybe it's because here's what Hackworth is saying now:

Let me get this straight Counterpunch isn’t a reliable source?  I’ll have to remember that for any future uses anyone have for Counterpunch when it comes to supporting his or her arguments. I assume there is support for a stance that the Guardian is similarly blowing smoke about their reports on Clark’s incompetence?  

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MuseZack: http://www.wnd.com/n...RTICLE_ID=34738 “No big surprise, since he graduated first in his class from West Point, which puts him in the supersmart set with Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and Maxwell Taylor.
You know that article gave me on good laugh and a severe sense of insult. Comparing Clark to Eisenhower is like comparing Bush or Clinton to George Washington.  I’d have to call into serious question any article that compares the two generals to one another.  The last time I checked Ike went out on top of the world as a National Hero while Clark was relieved of his command early and given what amounted to a forced retirement.  Anyone who compares the two men needs a serious reality check and a few checks in the history books.  

Now onward toward comparing MacArthur and Clark!  Both were political generals who treated their subordinates like trash and regarded their equals with suspicion.  Indeed both generals lost their commands after wanting to take action that was beyond what the chain of command allowed.  Of course Dugout Doug does top even Clark for his idiocy and the extent he came unhinged.  The real funny thing is both generals had an excellent ability to manipulate the system like the slipperiest of rats and had excellent PR to counter all their failings.  Both had/have supporters who would brush aside their major failings (Wanting to nuke China for Mac or Clark Bungling the airport) in order to propel them into the White House.          

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Zack: Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time."
I’ll make a note from now one to read MacArthur’s biography if I want a unbiased objective look at the defense of the Philippines following December 7th.  I’m sure he didn’t spin the entire story to make himself look good.    

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MuseZack: And on the subject of Kosovo, as I've explained to you before when the subject has come up, the Russians were not allies in the operation, they were rivals to NATO and longtime Serb allies who tried to bail out their longtime buddy Milosevic by sneaking troops into the Pristina airport as a wedge to carve out an independent sector of control in Kosovo.
Obviously the Russians occupied the airport when the brave and steadfast General Wesley Clark was unable to stop them! Since the time that the terrible Red Horde descended on Pristina Milsosevic has run wild.  The mass murder and raping has continued on a near genocidal level, the Russians are aiding and protecting the Serbs, Kosovo is divided into splintered sectors with some at the mercy of the Serbs, and gosh the Iron Curtain has arose again!  I mean look how the Russians bailed out their old buddy Milsosevic and how he laughs at us from his seat of power in Belgrade!      
  
Well enough improbable fiction and let us get to the reality that the Cold War was over for years! Clark’s fears were completely out in the farthest portion of left field along with his intended reaction compared to what the Russians actually did.  Instead the Russians have been a valuable part of K-For and have countered Serbian ambitions on several occasions.  I’m reminded of one incident in 1999 where Russian soldiers shot down three Serbs who tried to attack unarmed Albanians.  Instead of living up to those ridiculous fears charged against them the Russians were attacked by Albanians for what the US said was disinformation and that the Russians were doing a fine job.  I hardly call this the work of the diabolic Russian mastermind that Clark made Yeltsin out to be.  Rather it was an attempt by Russia to be part of the situation in Kosovo that wasn’t the most diplomatic way to do it but still honest.  

If anything this inflexibility on the part of Clark to assume that the Russian equaled bad guys speaks volumes of this mans inflexibility.  In a situation where relations between the US and Russia were starting to cool down he wants to charge in with guns at the ready and safeties off over a minor issue that had no relevance in the long term.  Either then man has the long term strategic sense of a zucchini or General Jackson is right he went off the deep end seeing it as a personal slight against him.          

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MuzeZack: And if you think that Yeltsin was really going to start WW3 over British troops blockading an airport/ occupied by 200 Russian soldiers who hadn't even brought food with them, then you're pretty much alone.
I assume that an intelligent person with a sense of military operations would realize that when you introduce two heavily armed forces into an unstable environment with opposing agendas you have a recipe for disaster.  Yeltsin might not have wanted an armed skirmish to occur but that doesn’t mean that would have been the outcome.  In those type of situations much of the control is out of the hands of the political leaders once the troops go in. Instead the control is in the hands of the officers on location.  Worse yet it is in the hands of a very nervous 18 to 20 year old holding a rifle facing down someone they have been told to stop who is also armed.  In those situations the probability of just one small incident or round being fired off can lead to a much large shooting match then to a skirmish and then perhaps a large general shooting war.  The potential for an active skirmish in that scenario was very high considering you’d have very nervous fingers on the triggers and all it takes is on itchy one.  

Lest we forget that the Revolutionary War was kicked off by Lexington and Concord by a shot heard around the world.  That was a shot that was never ordered to leave the barrel of someone’s musket or rifle.  All it takes is one little misstep when dealing with armed forces and you have a clash.  I’d also like to remind everyone that the Russians on the ground would have seen this as a situation where they had to break that blockade in order to get critical supplies to themselves adding an extra measure of tension.  That places their troops in the situation of being threatened by NATO forces.            

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MuseZack: No serious observer thinks there was an actual threat of war.
Who need a shooting skirmish when you are at a critical period in history when relations between the United States and Russian were normalizing?  Instead into the situation enters a blundering ticked off General Clark.  He sets up a scenario where a shooting skirmish could have occurred that would have knocked US/NATO relations with Russia back into the dark days of the Cold War.  On top of that it would have destabilized the delicate negotiations going on over Kosovo.  I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that a shooting match between NATO and Russian troops would have been a wise thing for relations.  Especially that incident would have been over a backwards little hole in the wall like Kosovo.  Clark totally miscalculated the direness of what was actually a very minor issue and missed the big picture.   A president had to be a person who can see and understand the big picture on a daily basis and Clark seems unable to do so.  

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Zack: General Michael Jackson was being hyperbolic, which isn't terribly surprising coming from a man his own troops nicknamed "the Prince of Darkness" and who has the dubious distinction of having been the second in command at the massacre of thirteen unarmed Irish protestors on "Bloody Sunday."
Who is now Chief of the General Staff for his respective military and had the backing of his chain of command?  Meanwhile Clark was relieved of his command most unceremoniously by his chain of command and then pretty much forced into retirement?    

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Zack your article :Moscow caught its Western allies off-guard by sending men toward Pristina on June 11.
I just had to point out the fact that you claim the Russians weren’t allies and then cite sources to support your argument that claim they were allies.  

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Zack: So you either still don't understand Kosovo or you're being deliberately obtuse.
Rather than questioning my ability to understand something “correctly” how about we stick to covering all the points of the discussion.  That tends to lend itself to a far more civil discussion.  I’m still curious to see an explanation of why Clark lost his command for not following the chain of command and Jackson arose to Chief of the General Staff if Clark was so right?  For that matter why didn’t the Russians seize control of the Pristina airport and setup what Clark feared would happen when he was blocked?  Instead they have been valuable allies in Kosovo and Clark was totally off base in his assessment to the point of being laughable.      

While I’m at it since certain people on this board like to remind everyone from time to time of Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam during the 1980s I have to ask a question of them.  I tend to believe in the old adage that what goes around comes around.   I have to wonder how these people rationalize away Clark meeting with Serbian War Criminal Ratko Mladic.  I mean there is even a lovely picture of the two of them joking and swapping hats.  I’ll have to dig up the exact quote but one State Department official I believe said it amounted to being as ghastly as if cavorting with Herman Goering.  

Here is a nice profile of  Ratko Mladic.  A man that would get along great with Saddam.  

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He has been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity - including the massacre of thousands of Muslim men from the town of Srebrenica in 1995

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The unarmed men were then murdered - in the five days after Bosnian Serb forces overran Srebrenica, at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys are thought to have been killed.  After the end of the Bosnian war, Mr Mladic returned to Belgrade, enjoying the open support and protection of Mr Milosevic.
Clark's record may come under fire

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Consider Clark's relationship with Ratko Mladic, the Serbian Army general accused of war crimes against civilians in Bosnia. As a member of the U.S. negotiating team that dealt with Serb leaders, Clark failed to take a tough line with Mladic. On one occasion, Clark met with Mladic at his headquarters in Banja Luka, and posed for pictures wearing the Serb commander's hat.
Critics charge that Clark's deferential treatment actually encouraged Mladic, who continued his murderous campaign until peace was finally restored in the Balkans. Clark later ordered NATO troops to capture Mladic, but the Serb general remains at large today - a fact that likely will resurface when candidate Clark chides the Bush administration for its failure to capture Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
So, would the real Wesley Clark please stand up?

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While Clark is making hay over his military record, his judgment as a leader of our armed forces is something that his potential supporters should ponder. In 1994, prior to serving as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Western Europe, Clark was a representative for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in war-torn Bosnia. There, against State Department advisories, Clark not only met, but jovially exchanged army caps and gifts of brandy and a firearm with Ratko Mladic, the notorious Serbian war criminal. According to the Washington Post, one U.S. official described the embarrassing incident as, "like cavorting with Hermann Goering."
Hat swap: How a notorious Serb general outfoxed Wesley Clark

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In addition, according to Rose, former commander of Britain's Special Forces and hero of the Falklands War, Mladic gave Clark a pistol with the engraved words, "From General Mladic."

"We were appalled," Rose wrote.
How does out intrepid Wes Clark explain this away in his totally unbiased biography?  

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In his own book, "Waging Modern War," Clark makes no mention of either hats or a pistol while describing Mladic as "the blustering military leader of the Bosnian Serbs," and as being "coarse and boastful."

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For the record, Clark got back his famous hat. Slobodan Milosevic, the supreme Serbian leader, returned it during the Bosnian peace negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, saying it was a gift from General Mladic.
Oh and before anyone calls my sources into question a picture is worth a thousand words right?  I really had to dig through some odd places for this one but here it comes!  
Wes Clark joking around with War Crimminal Mladic

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 26 October 2003 - 03:57 PM.

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#25 MuseZack

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 04:36 PM

Ah, the old Mladic story.  I was wondering how long it would take you to trot this one out, CJ.  I'm surprised you didn't alsoaccuse him of sending the tanks into the Davidian compound at Waco; that way you could have hit all of the wingnut talking points on Clark.

For the record: yes, Clark did meet with Mladic as part of his duties with NATO-- a year before the Srebrenica massacre that Mladic is under indictment for.  Was he inappropriately clubby with the Serb general?  Probably.   Does this take away from the larger picture, which is that Clark all along had been pushing for an aggressive line against the Serbs and was instrumental in negotiating the Dayton peace accords?  Not at all.   And the Bosnian Muslims don't seem to hold it against Clark-- it's widely acknowledged that he was a forceful and ultimately successful advocate for their cause (see Richard Hoolbrooke's memoir and Samantha Power's A Problem From Hell).

Oh, and in the name of ideological consistency, I look forward to your condemnation of Donald Rumsfeld for meeting with Saddam Hussein after he used poison gas against the Iranians.  (sound of crickets chirping)

And yes, Clark was forced out of his job early after fighting and winning the war in Kosovo, mainly for battling Shelton and the SecDef to fight the war his way.  Maybe if your hero Tommy Franks had been as adept in resisting Rumsfeld's efforts to micromanage the Iraq War by denying Franks the military police and larger ground force he asked for, we wouldn't be in quite as bad a situation over there as we currently are.  Kosovo's not perfect, but we're not losing over a soldier a day and getting our headquarters rocketed there, either.  

But hey, you don't like General Clark, and that's your right.  But your repeating of unsupported innuendo as fact and throwing every charge that's ever been made against the man to see what sticks just reeks of fear, desperation, and naked partisanship.  I expected better from you.
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#26 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 07:24 PM

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Zack: Ah, the old Mladic story. I was wondering how long it would take you to trot this one out, CJ. I'm surprised you didn't also accuse him of sending the tanks into the Davidian compound at Waco; that way you could have hit all of the wingnut talking points on Clark.
Well if I get called a “wingnut” who can’t correctly “understand” the Balkans because I don’t like Clark I guess I’m in pretty good company.  Personally I prefer to play with information rather than innuendo against people and Clark has plenty of information stacked up against him.  I think I covered a lot of that above when it comes to the Pristina airport and the stupidity of introducing two armed forces into an unstable environment when it isn’t required.  Along with how the repercussion of such a skirmish could have chilled relations between the United States and Russia at a critical moment and derailed the peace process in the Balkans.  Of course any response to that might be less fun than taking potshots at apparently my partisan wingnut approach to Clark.    

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Zack: For the record: yes, Clark did meet with Mladic as part of his duties with NATO-- a year before the Srebrenica massacre that Mladic is under indictment for.

The Srebrenica massacre was just the icing on the cake for Mladic.  Mladic was brought up on US war crime charges for events well prior to his meeting with Clark.  Lest we forget the artillery/sniper attacks on Sarajevo and razing/mass murder against Muslim residents.  So sure he wasn’t quite up to the top of his game when Clark met with him for committing crimes but it was known what he was.  Clark would have to be an incompetent fool to not realize at the time what type of man he was being chummy with and joking around with.    

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Zack: Was he inappropriately clubby with the Serb general? Probably.

Funny I seem to recall that the US State Department directly advised Clark not to go at that time.  Instead he didn’t listen to them because obviously General Clark realizes that he knows best.  Instead he got made a fool of and joked around buddy like with an already sought after war criminal.  

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Zack: And the Bosnian Muslims don't seem to hold it against Clark-- it's widely acknowledged that he was a forceful and ultimately successful advocate for their cause (see Richard Hoolbrooke's memoir and Samantha Power's A Problem From Hell).

Do you really want to get into a talk about some of Clark’s buddies in the KLA?  The only thing that makes them any better than the Serbs is they never had sufficient quantity or ability to go out and launch counter massacres on that scale.  Even then they managed to be quite the bunch of nasty terrorists.    

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Zack: Oh, and in the name of ideological consistency, I look forward to your condemnation of Donald Rumsfeld for meeting with Saddam Hussein after he used poison gas against the Iranians. (sound of crickets chirping)

I love the sound of crickets in the evening but too much silence is boring. Do you see me praising Don Rumsfeld for much of anything especially for meeting with Saddam?  I might have said in the past I admire him for his handling of the press but that is about the limit of any warm feelings I have for him.  I’m actually rather thrilled he seems to be falling out of power in the administration in favor of Rice and Powell.  Personally I don’t care for the man much for his politics and his vision for the armed forces.  Do I think the Iranians were the bigger threat at the time?  Aye!

If the Iranians has caused the fall of Iraq and then swept into the Gulf we could have been dealing with a real nightmare.  Do I think the situation could have been dealt with in a much better manner and that Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam was way over the line?  Yeah to a very large degree.  Would I be willing to give him a good well done for kicking the same man out of power in 2003 and in my eyes correcting that transgression to a degree?  That would be a big affirmative.  Now I suppose we can all go back to listening to crickets?  

Quote

Zack: And yes, Clark was forced out of his job early after fighting and winning the war in Kosovo, mainly for battling Shelton and the SecDef to fight the war his way.

Then you have that whole small issue of wanting to introduce a very unstable element into the Pristina airport in the middle of an extremely delicate situation.  A situation that quite logically turned out nothing like Clark predicted it would. Instead the Russians have been a valuable component of K-FOR and have protected civilians from Serb aggression on several occasions despite being attacked aggressively by those same civilians.

Oh and the irony is Clark has next to nothing to do with planning and winning the air campaign in Kosovo.  The planning was carried out by and operation executed by General Mike Short.  Clark just sucked up the media attention during the war right up until any mistakes occurred and then he somehow disappeared from the limelight letting his subordinates take the heat.  

Quote

Zack: Maybe if your hero Tommy Franks had been as adept in resisting Rumsfeld's efforts to micromanage the Iraq War by denying Franks the military police and larger ground force he asked for, we wouldn't be in quite as bad a situation over there as we currently are.
Funny unlike Clark Tommy Franks was actually skillful enough to navigate treacherous waters and actually manage to accomplish something without losing his command.  Of course Franks never tried to kick off a major international incident with the Russians that could have dropped us back into the Cold War.  Instead Tommy Franks went up against Don Rumsfeld and came out on top with his command intact.  Franks appealed over Rumsfeld head and had his disastrous plan of fighting the war with mostly Special Forces, limited number of conventional forces, and high technology weapons with air power overturned.  Instead we had the war being executed as we saw with the Iraqi forces being swept from the desert or just being swallowed up into it as they deserted.  Going up against Rumsfeld accomplishing that much and coming out with his hide intact speaks volumes of Franks.  

Meanwhile I need a memory refresher?  Clark couldn’t even get authorization to use any ground troops, clear his planes to fly low enough to be effective, or even to turn the Apaches loose on the Serbs.  Yeah I’d say he accomplished a lot in his fight with the administration.
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#27 MuseZack

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 08:24 PM

Quote

Do you really want to get into a talk about some of Clark’s buddies in the KLA?  The only thing that makes them any better than the Serbs is they never had sufficient quantity or ability to go out and launch counter massacres on that scale.  Even then they managed to be quite the bunch of nasty terrorists.   


The KLA was in Kosovo, not Bosnia.  As usual, your ignorance of the 1990s Balkans wars is showing.  

And here's the Washington Post on the Russian deployment.  Decide for yourself whether this was the helpful act of an ally:

Russia's surprise deployment of 200 troops to the Pristina airport on June 12
was part of a scheme to send into Kosovo a contingent of 1,000 or more men
who could have tried to stake out a Russian zone in the northwest sector of
the province, Western intelligence analysts have concluded.

The carefully planned operation was thwarted when the governments of Hungary,
Bulgaria and Romania, prodded by the United States, denied Russian requests
to use their airspace to fly more Russians into Kosovo.

When senior U.S. officials realized what the Russians had in mind, they
lobbied the Eastern Europeans on overflight rights and began pursuing their
Russian counterparts by telephone "at ungodly hours" on Sunday, June 13,
according to one official. The Americans warned the Russians that their
unilateral military moves risked obliterating the good will generated by
their help in reaching a peace agreement.
(snip)
Russian military officials have boasted that the deception involved in the
Pristina airport operation was deliberate. "The operation was very carefully
prepared," Gen. Georgi Shpak, commander of Russia's paratroopers, told a
Russian newspaper. "The main difficulty was to hide the fact that the
operation was being prepared."




One question is the degree to which Yeltsin, frail and ill, participates in
detailed discussions of complex issues. Western intelligence analysts and
many Russian sources say his involvement is minimal.
In late April, Yeltsin complained in a closed meeting of his national
security advisers about Russia's inability to influence the Yugoslav war.
"Why are they not afraid of us?" he lamented, according to a source in
Moscow. His generals had no answer.
Western nations were alarmed when the Russians moved into the Pristina
airport, though not afraid of the small force of 200. Within two weeks the
British were providing food and water for the isolated contingent.

But Clark took the Russian deployment seriously, which led to his plan to
dispatch U.S. troops by helicopter to the airport. Defense Secretary William
S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
supported Clark's plan. But Jackson and the British government demurred, and
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov assured U.S. officials that the Russian
force moving toward Kosovo would stop before it crossed into the province.

The Russians' premature arrival in Pristina despite Ivanov's assurance
complicated the diplomatic exchanges over the peacekeeping arrangements.


And from the BBC:

"During the stand-off, Moscow insisted its troops would be answerable only to its own commanders. Nato refused to accept this, predicting it would lead to the partition of Kosovo into an ethnic Albanian south and a Serbian north."


So, to recap for the umpteenth time.  The Russians tried to pull an end-run around NATO by establishing "facts on the ground" at Pristina airport, with thousands more Russian paratroopers at bases ready to go.  Clark, with the approval of his superiors, ordered the British to Pristina airport to block reinforcements from arriving.  General Jackson demurred, and because of the collective structure of NATO, was able to carry the day with his superiors.  Clark and the Americans came up with a "plan B" to block reinforcements by leaning on Hungary to deny the Russians overflight.  They succeeded.  After much more negotiations, the Russians were successfully integrated into the peacekeeping force instead of being able to carve out their own sector unilaterally.  That the Russians eventually became a valuable part of the peacekeeping force is a sign that the strategy to bring them into line from the beginning was a success.

Spinning this into another Cuban missile crisis because of one quote from Jackson is simply ridiculous.   And have fun making "General Clark: too tough with the Russians" as a campaign slogan.  That'll go over about as well as "he voted for Reagan" with swing voters.
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We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#28 Bad Wolf

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 08:57 PM

One of the most fun things for me about OT, especially on subjects about which I'm less informed than other people, is to see discussions that go into a lot of detail and illustrate various takes on these events.

Then I see things like this:

Quote

But your repeating of unsupported innuendo as fact and throwing every charge that's ever been made against the man to see what sticks just reeks of fear, desperation, and naked partisanship. I expected better from you.

and

Quote

The KLA was in Kosovo, not Bosnia. As usual, your ignorance of the 1990s Balkans wars is showing.

and it's not fun to read anymore.  *sigh*
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#29 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 09:07 PM

Quote

Zack: The KLA was in Kosovo, not Bosnia. As usual, your ignorance of the 1990s Balkans wars is showing.

Did I assert there was any connection whatsoever between the KLA and the earlier wars in Bosnia?  I think my exact statement amounted to a statement of since everyone seems to be so happy with Clark in Bosnia let us talk about some of his later buddies within the KLA.  I think it is pretty clear that the Kosovo Liberation Army would be involved in Kosovo rather than Bosnia.  I’d really like to see an explanation how that can be connected to my so called ignorance on the subject?

Quote

Zack: Decide for yourself whether this was the helpful act of an ally:

You seem to forget that the Russians played the leading role in getting Milsosevic to back down.  Probably a bigger role than Clark’s air war that managed to pretty much kill a handful of tanks, blow up a TV station, and a refugee column.  Did the Russians turn out to be valuable allies that would have been alienated by Clark’s planned confrontational cowboy act?  Let me see did Clark’s plan in the least bit turn out to be necessary?  Rather the Russians were incorporated successfully into K-FOR as a valuable ally.  Clark’s plan again would have introduced a unstable element into an all ready volatile situation and could have prompted an armed skirmish between NATO and Russian troops.  All it would have taken was a single itchy trigger finger among a bunch of 18 to 20 years old soldiers of two opposing forces with conflicting goals.  So Clark would have placed us in a position of disrupting the entire diplomatic process in Kosovo and throwing relations with Russia into a diplomatic deep freeze.    

    

Quote

Zack’s Article: Western nations were alarmed when the Russians moved into the Pristina airport, though not afraid of the small force of 200. Within two weeks the British were providing food and water for the isolated contingent.

I think that pretty much sums up the entire stupidity and recklessness of Clark’s order.  The Russians were an isolated and irrelevant force unless they operated with NATO.  NATO had the ability through their alliance to completely blockade food, water, and other supplies to them by preventing it from even reaching Kosovo.  So what type of hothead would want to send his troops directly into a confronting situation against Russian troops where shots could have been fired when it was a mote point from the start?  It lends itself to the fact that in Clark’s outrage over this perceived affront to him totally missed the big picture in regards to the Pristina airport.  Instead he just wanted to charge in like the cavalry in order to settle scores until cooler heads prevailed.  

Quote

Zack: General Jackson demurred, and because of the collective structure of NATO, was able to carry the day with his superiors.

You sort of neglected the small point that then officials in Washington came to their senses and overrode Clark too when he appealed up his chain of command.  It isn’t surprising that the Clinton Administration need a knock in the head from the British to see the light when they had such foreign policy/military successes like Somalia on their record.  You also forget that Admiral James Ellis who refused to land choppers on the runways per Clark’s demands blocked Clark on that front.    

Quote

Zack: Clark and the Americans came up with a "plan B" to block reinforcements by leaning on Hungary to deny the Russians overflight. They succeeded.

Care to cite where Clark was involved in that one so extensively?  Somehow I bet that was mostly a State Department scheme though Clark might have neglected to write the full truth in his biography.

Quote

Zack:  Spinning this into another Cuban missile crisis because of one quote from Jackson is simply ridiculous.

No I’d just suggest citing the facts that Clark wanted to race in with military forces into an unstable situation.  That would be military force that wasn’t needed to resolve that situation and would have just lent itself to leading to a major shooting incident that would have deep froze US-Russian relations.  That and a few nice posters of Clark joking around with one of the butchers of Sarajevo might help.
"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
        -Fleet Admiral Nimitz
"Their sailors say they should have flight pay and sub pay both -- they're in the air half the time, under the water the other half""
        - Ernie Pyle: Aboard a DE

#30 Uncle Sid

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 10:58 PM

Then I see things like this:

Quote

QUOTE 
But your repeating of unsupported innuendo as fact and throwing every charge that's ever been made against the man to see what sticks just reeks of fear, desperation, and naked partisanship. I expected better from you.


and

QUOTE 
The KLA was in Kosovo, not Bosnia. As usual, your ignorance of the 1990s Balkans wars is showing. 


and it's not fun to read anymore. *sigh*

Agreed.  

There's decent information coming through here, and I think that most of the people here are quite capable of letting their facts and opinions speak for themselves.  It's a bad idea to become personally antagonistic, because then the real information gets lost in the static.  

To be fair, I am not oblivious to the fact that there are those who seem to be bound and determined to cut down General Clark in a colorful manner despite the fact that they have not had to face the decisions of an overall commander in a volatile military situation.  This may engender one to feel that certain detractors are inflexible and suffer from a lack of objectivity and of perspective.  This can be frustrating and certainly can, and perhaps *should* be challenged if it really is the case.  

Neverthless, a challenge should remain impersonal for two reasons.  

First, direct challenges increase defensiveness and therefore induce inflexibility.  If there is no room to maneuver, a defender will retreat to a static, but well fortified defense.  To engage an opponent properly in warfare, you need to draw them out of fixed fortifications and in argument, you need to draw them out of fixed fall-back positions.  That usually requires giving them some territory.  

Second, a direct attack prevents the information from being absorbed by others.  People start to regard the information being presented as being an arrow meant for someone else, since the attack becomes more personal.  If the argument is made general, others will have less grounds to pretend that the argument and information does not apply to them of their situation.

Anyway... don't let it get personal.  As Lil said, it's not fun to read if it does, and perhaps more significantly to me as a moderator, it breaks down discussion.

Edited by Uncle Sid, 26 October 2003 - 10:59 PM.

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey

#31 Bad Wolf

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 11:03 PM

^

*LONG LOUD APPLAUSE*

:cool:
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#32 MuseZack

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 11:28 PM

In the interests of board amity (and since I actually am quite fond of CJ-- my arguments with Ash get way more heated than this), I'll bow out of this thread, though I'll end with two quotes, one from Washington Post military writer Vernon Loeb, answering the same question on Pristina Airport:

Philadelphia, Pa.:  Hi Vernon,

Did Clark actually order a strike against Russina troops at the Pristina airfield, or did he order troops there merely as a contingency? Was he trying to prvoke the Russians, or, as British General Jackson has been quoted, "start WWIII?" What was the motive behind the order, and what do he think Clark intended to acheive?

Thanks.

Vernon Loeb: No, he didn't order a strike on the Russians, and I don't think he was trying to provoke them. He ordered British Gen. Michael Jackson to block the runways at Pristina so that the Russians couldn't fly in reinforcements. He was very worried about Russia coming in, grabbing an entire sector of Kosovo from NATO, and both undermining NATO and undercutting the forthcoming peacekeeping operation. And he says he had the Pentagon's support in issuing the order. If you remember back to that time, he was not the only one who was quite alarmed by the Russians power grab. But Jackson, for whatever reason, just thought Clark's order was too provocative, and wouldn't obey it. The crisis ultimately passed, and the Russians were unable to bring in any more troops for a variety of reasons, though there were in fact indications that they were trying to do so.

And this one is from General Jackson himself in the Telegraph, who doesn't seem to look back on the incident with undue alarm:

Q: I was reading about your fracas with General Wesley Clark. [During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, when General Jackson was the Commander of the Kosovo Force, he was ordered by the Supreme Commander of Nato Forces in Europe , US General Wesley Clark, to capture Pristina airport to stop the Russian reinforcements from landing. In a heated argument, Gen Jackson told Gen Clark: "I'm not starting World War III for you.]

MJ: You mean a difference of opinion [smiles wolfishly].


Q: Do you envisage the possibility of something like that happening again because the American army is out there in great numbers and we are going out in great numbers and frictions can develop.


MJ: The circumstances surrounding KFOR's entry into Kosovo and, in particular, the circumstances which surrounded Pristina airport, which lasted for about 48 hours, were very peculiar to the extraordinarily complex political situation at that point.
But I'm not trying to duck the issue. When the stakes are high and you have commanders quite rightly determined to succeed in the mission they have been given, opinions can vary and there can be friction. This is human nature in a way, and military history is full of incidents whereby, under pressure of events, there have been disagreements but which then are overcome.

EDITED:

Okay, I lied.  I couldn't resist adding a third one, this one from longtime NY Times correspondent who covered the Balkans in the 1990s:
Another notion about General Clark's record is that he was reckless when he proposed occupying the Pristina airfield in Kosovo after the war to preclude the Russians from rushing in troops.
After Mr. Milosevic agreed to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, NATO and the Russians were still at odds over the sort of peacekeeping force that should be deployed. Anxious to avoid the partition of Kosovo, NATO insisted that the Russian forces come under its command. While that debate was still going on, the Russian military abruptly withdrew several hundred of its troops from Bosnia and dispatched them to the airfield at Pristina.
I was in Moscow at the time and it was clear that this had occurred without the blessing of the Russian Foreign Ministry and initially, it seems, the Kremlin. After reports of the troop movements first surfaced, I asked the Kremlin spokesman to check with his superiors. He later assured me no orders had been issued to send troops to Kosovo, something that did not say a lot for civilian command and control in Russia.
General Clark was anxious to prevent the Russian military from sending in more reinforcements and creating a Russian-protected Serb enclave. Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine were persuaded to close their airspace to Russian transport planes. But what if they relented under Russian pressure or the Russians defied the ban? Would NATO intercept Russian planes carrying troops?
General Clark's plan was to put NATO troops on the airfield to make it impossible for reinforcements to land. But a British general, Mike Jackson, who was in charge of the peacekeeping force that was to stabilize Kosovo after the Serb troops withdrew and who now serves as the head of the British Army, complained that it was too risky, famously asserting, with some hyperbole, that it would be risking World War III.
Britain was the United States' staunchest ally, and so the Clinton administration decided to defer to the British position. Still, General Clark's recommendation was not rash; it was a judgment call that had been discussed in detail in Washington and that was initially supported at senior levels of the American government.


Okay, now I'm done.  Honest




;)

Edited by MuseZack, 26 October 2003 - 11:48 PM.

"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#33 Rhea

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 10:01 AM

^Gee, I hope not. :p :p

Facts make a refreshing break from hyperbole.  ;)
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