Will Clark Take Washington?
What are general turned presidential candidate Wesley Clark's views on U.S. politics — at home and abroad?
October 28, 2003
Wesley Clark has made his bid for the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nomination. Naturally, the former NATO supreme allied commander has some very definite views on Iraq — and the war on terrorism. He is also concerned about the economy and the values that will shape his country's future. Our Read My Lips feature presents General Clark’s point of view.
Why was the Bush Administration so confident about the military campaign in Iraq?
“It was almost certain to be successful. It emphasized U.S. military strengths — and built on a decade of preparation for a refight of the Gulf War.”
Can you explain why U.S. President George W. Bush was so eager to attack Iraq?
“Taking down Saddam became a hobbyhorse.”
Do you believe the Bush Administration had a comprehensive plan?
“What was the strategy? What was the purpose? What is the success strategy? How are we going to finish the mission there?”
How do you view the war on terrorism?
“They picked war over law. They picked a unilateralist approach over a multilateral approach. They picked conventional forces over special-operation forces. And they picked Saddam Hussein as a target over Osama bin Laden.”
What would have been your approach to fighting terrorism?
“The weapons of this war should be information, law enforcement — and, on rare occasions, active military forces.”
How do you view Arab misgivings about Iraq's occupation?
“There is a long-term risk from a devastating defeat of Saddam that is extremely dangerous — a deepening of the Arab sense of humiliation across the region. They will view the American and allied victory as a reimposition of colonialism.”
Are you still hopeful about improving relations between the United States and Muslim countries?
“Three million Muslims have come to this country from Asia and the Middle East. They don’t come because they were afraid of our values. They came because they wanted to live under them.”
What concerns you about the Bush Administration’s economic strategy?
“Not since Vietnam had a U.S. administration made the mistake of going for ‘guns and butter’ simultaneously — or asked so little of an American people at a time of crisis.”
Does that mean you are opposed to tax cuts in general?
“Tax cuts are a good idea, but we must be certain that we have sufficient funds for defense and other critical needs.”
What do you think needs to be done to fix the U.S. economy?
“When you’re in a hole, you should stop digging. This country’s in a deep hole — and I’ve got a plan to get us out.”
What are your views on nationalist tendencies in the United States?
“I think what America needs is a new approach to patriotism.”
What do you mean specifically?
“We’ve got to have a new kind of patriotism that recognizes that in times of war and peace, democracy requires dialogue, disagreement and the courage to speak out.”
Why did you decide to go for the Democratic nomination?
“It’s a party that stands for internationalism, it’s a party that stands for ordinary men and women, it’s a party that stands for fair play, equity, justice, common sense — and reasonable dialogue.”
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
“I’m not even a politician — I’m the first one to tell you that.”
And finally, how do you judge George W. Bush's chances to get elected again?
“With a record like this, he shouldn’t be running for president. He should be running for the hills.”