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Words Of Wisdom

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Is this a quote from President Clinton or President Bush:

“There’s no requirement to have any doctrine here. I mean this is simply a longstanding right of the United States and other nations to take the actions they deem necessary in their self defense…”

Okay, I lied a bit. Neither Clinton nor Bush is responsible for the quote above. Can you guess who did issue this statement? If you can’t, let me give you another quote from the same person to see if you can come up with a name:

“Every president has deployed forces as necessary to take action. He’s done so without multilateral support if necessary. He’s done so in advance of conflict if necessary. In my experience, I was the commander of the European forces in NATO. When we took action in Kosovo, we did not have United Nations approval to do this and we did so in a way that was designed to preempt Serb ethnic cleansing and regional destabilization there. There were some people who didn’ t agree with that decision. The United Nations was not able to agree to support it with a resolution.”

Got it yet? Okay, how about one more quote:

“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat… Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He’s had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001… He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn’t have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we.”

Some of you I’m sure have guessed that all of the statements above were from General Wesley Clark, retired, just two weeks before Congress passed a resolution giving President Bush authorization to take military action against Saddam if necessary.

These and a few other quotes can be found on The Drudge Report, but, before I finish, let me just include two more quotes from General Clark. First this one:

“And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that’s longstanding. It’s been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this.”

And then, one more from General Clark, issued after the fall of Baghdad:

“President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt. Can anything be more moving than the joyous throngs swarming the streets of Baghdad? Memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the defeat of Milosevic in Belgrade flood back. Statues and images of Saddam are smashed and defiled.”
Wesley Clark, April 10, 2003

Nuff said.

David Flanagan

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  • debbie

    This must be the character issue that Gen. Sheldon was talking about….

    Saying whatever the person in front of you wants to hear.

  • David Flanagan

    That and other things. I have a close friend who worked under Wesley Clark during the time he was the NATO commander and handling the Kosovo situation. My friend has consistently refused to give me details of why he does not respect Clark (honorable man that he is), but, he does not have much good to say about him.

    In Clark’s defense, I think it is a sad but true fact that Clark could never take the same stance that he took before congress and still become a Democratic presidential candidate. If, during Clark’s campaign, he began to say the things that he said in front of congress, his name would be mud.

    With that said, I believe that he is one of the candidates who, if by chance he won the presidency, would continue much of the policies that Bush already has in place in regards to the war on terror. Just my opinion on the issue.

    Thanks. :-)


  • Doctor Biobrain

    I think that if you’re going to put Clark’s quotes here out of context, you should at least have the decency to link to his entire testimony, instead of Drudge’s mockery.

    If you read everything he said, you can see that he hasn’t changed his stance on the war. He’s a smart man and his positions are more complex than “Bush good” or “Bush bad”. Simply because he realized Saddam was a bad man doesn’t mean the war was the right policy. And simply because he praised the execution of the war or Bush’s “resolve” or was happy to see free Iraqi’s does not mean that he supported the war. I should know, as I’ve thought all these things before having read Clark’s statements, yet I am firmly against that war (actually, I never said anything about Bush’s resolve).

    The world isn’t black and white and most policies have good outcomes AND bad outcomes. Removing Saddam and freeing his people IS good. Increased instability and death IS bad. Maybe Bush made the world safer, or maybe he’s made it more dangerous. Time will tell. But this was a very risky war, filled with complex issues. Attempting to smear Clark by insisting that his positive comments indicate support for the war is childish. And it’s wrongly smearing a good man.

  • David Flanagan


    Please tell me how I have taken Wesley Clark’s comments out of context. If I have done so, then I will apologize.

    Another thing, if you notice the title of this entry, you’ll see that it is “Words of Wisdom.” I consider Clark’s statements before congress regarding Iraq and the war on terror to be right on the money.

    What is the difference between then and now? Well, at that time, Clark was not a Presidential candidate, now he is and is running with a party that is heavily anti-Iraq for no better reason than the fact that it was President Bush who was in office when the job needed to get done.

    If you would like to actually listen to all of the particular statements made by Clark as he addressed congress, as I have, here is the link:

    The question is, how do you go from making a statement like this one made before congress early in 2003 (emphasis mine):

    “The problem of Iraq is not a problem that can be postponed indefinitely, and of course Saddam’s current efforts themselves are violations of international law as expressed in the U.N. resolutions. Our President has emphasized the urgency of eliminating these weapons and weapons programs. I strongly support his efforts to encourage the United Nations to act on this problem and in taking this to the United Nations, the president’s clear determination to act if the United States can’t — excuse me, if the United Nations can’t provides strong leverage for under girding ongoing diplomatic efforts.

    To one such as this:

    “I fully supported taking the problem to the United Nations and dealing with it through the United Nations. I would never have voted for war. The war was an unnecessary war, it was an elective war, and it’s been a huge, strategic mistake for this country.” (Wesley Clark, CNN’s Democrat Candidate Debate, Phoenix, AZ, 10/9/03)

    First Clark states his support for the President’s plan to go to the UN for support, but also to act independently and go it alone without the UN if necessary, then just months later, after announcing his candidacy, he completely changes his tune.

    Thats not a smear tactic on my part, its politics on the part of General Clark. I live in the Washington D.C. area and I hear this kind of equivocation every day from both parties.