Skip to comments.Democrats see general as a prize
Posted on 09/14/2003 10:59:54 AM PDT by madprof98
Washington --- In the classrooms at West Point beginning in 1962, the back of Wesley Clark's head was a common sight for most of the cadets.
That's because at the United States Military Academy it is the practice to seat cadets in the order of their class standing. And Clark was always at the head of the class, graduating at the top in 1966.
But if Clark joins the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this week, as he is widely expected to, he will start halfway to the bottom of the field --- fifth in a field of 10, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.
Not bad, though, for someone who, unlike the other candidates, has not been campaigning for more than a year.
Not bad, either, for someone who has no political campaign experience, no political organization and no money in a campaign coffer.
"There's room for a 10th candidate in this field," independent pollster John Zogby said in an interview last week as speculation was rising about Clark's future. "There's at least a third of Democratic primary voters still undecided, so that gives him an opening."
To have any success, Zogby said, Clark is going to have to run on his biography, much as Sen. John McCain of Arizona did in the 2000 Republican presidential campaign.
Zogby did some of the initial polling for McCain, whose compelling biography of heroics as a combat pilot and prisoner of war, political independence in the Senate and "straight talk" campaign style made him a formidable challenger to George W. Bush in 2000.
Clark has "a terrific biography" and a "great story to tell" should he decide to join the ranks of the Democratic presidential contenders," Zogby said.
And leaders of the Democratic Party, seeking more credibility for the party on national security in the wake of terrorism reaching the shores of America, are eagerly welcoming Clark to the campaign.
''I think it would be very good for the Democratic Party to have a four-star general travel around the country talking about the Democratic Party, talking about the differences with and the failures of the Bush administration," Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said last week.
Clark is a military officer who once occupied the same NATO command post as Dwight D. Eisenhower. Still, he is relatively unknown, certainly when compared to Ike.
"Wes Clark is no Eisenhower," Hudson Institute research fellow Alan Dowd recently wrote in the conservative National Review. "Ike returned from Europe as a conquering hero, the general of generals, [while] if it weren't for extensive time served as an armchair general, [Clark] would barely be known outside the Beltway."
However, former President Bill Clinton recently pronounced Clark one of the Democratic Party's two "rising stars," along with the former first lady, Sen. Hillary Clinton. And other former Clintonites are poised to back Clark's campaign, including former White House assistant Bruce Lindsey and Skip Rutherford, president of the foundation that is overseeing construction of Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock.
And only now, amid his flirtations with a career in politics, is the political world trying to get beyond Clark's official military biography, to understand what it means politically for him:
> To be the Southern Baptist-turned-Catholic son of a Russian Jewish immigrant.
> To have grown up in the racially segregated Arkansas of the 1950s and '60s.
> To have graduated No. 1 in the class of 1966 at West Point.
> To have been a Rhodes scholar.
> To have suffered four wounds in a single firefight as commander of a mechanized unit in Vietnam, wounds that required a year of physical therapy.
> To have been married to the same woman, Gertrude, since 1967, with a son, Wesley, 33, a screenwriter in California.
> To have risen to the four-star rank of Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, to have prosecuted NATO's first war, "Operation Allied Force," which drove the Serbian army out of the Albanian-populated Serbian province of Kosovo, without any NATO or U.S. deaths.
> To have so annoyed the Pentagon brass --- Clinton Secretary of Defense William Cohen once issued this order to him: "Keep your [expletive] face off the television!" --- that he was forced into an early retirement after nearly 34 years in uniform.
Clark has continued to spend a lot of time on television, mostly as a military analyst for CNN during the military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ah, yes, he embraces our diverse religious heritage! And why was I not surprised that this latest Dem scumbag abortion-apologist is a fellow Catholic?
Why don't they do this ? The DNC lothes the military.
Ann Coulter is RIGHT !
Now you have a picture-perfect photo of Gen. Wesley Clark.
Symbolism over substance. The Dems are suckers for it.
Oh now, let's get accurate here. Clark nearly started WWIII. THIS is the reason Clark was "forced" into early retirement.
Robertson's plum job in a warring Nato
As Blair's man is installed, Richard Norton-Taylor details the way the alliance generals have been fighting
Tuesday August 3, 1999 The Guardian
No sooner are we told by Britain's top generals that the Russians played a crucial role in ending the west's war against Yugoslavia than we learn that if Nato's supreme commander, the American General Wesley Clark, had had his way, British paratroopers would have stormed Pristina airport threatening to unleash the most frightening crisis with Moscow since the end of the cold war. "I'm not going to start the third world war for you," General Sir Mike Jackson, commander of the international K-For peacekeeping force, is reported to have told Gen Clark when he refused to accept an order to send assault troops to prevent Russian troops from taking over the airfield of Kosovo's provincial capital.
Hyperbole, perhaps. But, by all accounts, Jackson was deadly serious. Clark, as he himself observed, was frustrated after fighting a war with his hands tied behind his back, and was apparently willing to risk everything for the sake of amour-propre .
Nato's increasingly embarrassing, not to say ineffective, air assault on Yugoslavia, had ended. It was over, not least as General Sir Charles Guthrie, chief of the defence staff, acknowledged in an interview with the Guardian, thanks to the intervention of Moscow - its refusal to come to the aid of Belgrade. The point was emphatically underlined by Jackson in a further interview over the weekend with the Sunday Telegraph.
"The event of June 3 [when Moscow urged Milosevic to surrender] was the single event that appeared to me to have the greatest significance in ending the war," said Jackson. Asked about the bombing campaign, he added pointedly: "I wasn't responsible for the air campaign, you're talking to the wrong person."
Having helped Nato out of its predicament, Moscow was embroiled in arguments with Washington about the status of Russian troops in the K-For operation. For reasons to do with efficiency as much as power politics, the west insisted the Russian contingent must be "Nato-led". With or without Yeltsin's say-so, on June 12 a group of some 200 Russian troops drove out of Bosnia - where they were serving with the Nato-led S-For stabilisation force - and in full view of the world's television cameras made for Pristina airport where Jackson had planned to set up his K-For headquarters guarded by British paratroopers.
The Russians had made a political point, not a military one. It was apparently too much for Clark. According to the US magazine, Newsweek, General Clark ordered an airborne assault on the airfield by British and French paratroopers. General Jackson refused. Clark then asked Admiral James Ellis, the American commander of Nato's southern command, to order helicopters to occupy the airport to prevent Russian Ilyushin troop carriers from sending in reinforcements. Ellis replied that the British General Jackson would oppose such a move. In the end the Ilyushins were stopped when Washington persuaded Hungary, a new Nato member, to refuse to allow the Russian aircraft to fly over its territory.
Jackson got full support from the British government for his refusal to carry out the American general's orders. When Clark appealed to Washington, he was allegedly given the brush-off. The American is said to have complained to Jackson about the British general's refusal to accept the order to take over Pristina airfield, and Jackson's subsequent appeal to his political masters when Clark visited Kosovo on June 24.
The unsuccessful issuing of Clark's order has left a bitter taste, especially given the delay in US marines joining the K-For operation - a delay which Jackson had been prepared to indulge even though it held up the entry into Kosovo. Had the British general carried out Clark's instruction, all hope for a compromise with the Russians would have been shattered. In the end, Nato and Moscow reached a compromise and General Jackson willingly provided water and other supplies to stranded Russian paratroopers holed up at the airfield. He swallowed any hurt pride he might have had by insisting, not entirely convincingly, that control of the airfield was not important.
The episode triggers reminiscences of the Korean war. Then, General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the UN force, wanted to invade, even nuke, China, until he was brought to heel by President Truman. So concerned was Clement Attlee that he urgently flew to Washington to put an end to such madness. MacArthur was relieved of his command.
The comparison, of course, is not exact, but worth recording nonetheless. Last week, Clark was told in a telephone conversation from General Henry Shelton, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, that he must leave his post early and make way for an older man, General Joseph Ralston, a favourite of the American defence secretary, William Cohen. Clark fell victim, not only to the Pristina airfield row, but to his tense relationship with Washington throughout the war - his repeated requests for more aircraft, including Apache helicopters (never used in conflict because of the risk to pilots), the need for a ground force contingency plan and an altogether more effective strategy against Milosevic, a man he got to know well during the 1995 Dayton peace negotiations on Bosnia. Asked to comment on Clark's forced retirement, Jackson replied: "He is my superior officer and that's it."
So Nato will have a new supreme military commander close to Cohen and a new secretary-general - George Robertson - equally close to the US defence secretary as documents released under the US freedom of information act and reported today elsewhere in this newspaper testify. Though Nato was looking for a German - the defence minister, Rudolf Scharping declined - Robertson is said to have the enthusiastic support of the French and German governments to succeed the Spaniard, Javier Solana, who will take up a new post responsible for developing the EU's incipient common foreign and security policy. What does Robertson's appointment - expected to be formally approved tomorrow - signify ? He is regarded as having a "safe" pair of hands. He is unlikely to take risks. His main task will be to straddle the Atlantic, to help patch fissures in the alliance which almost cracked during the Kosovo war, and to persuade the Europeans to cooperate more effectively in the defence and security field. Robertson has talked much of "defence diplomacy". He will need to put this into practice, no more so than in Nato's relations with Russia, as the transatlantic alliance looks towards the east. The superficial rhetoric, Anglo-American arrogance, and the dangerously presumptuous approach towards Moscow, must be laid to rest.
An article from the UK, 5 years ago, tells the truth on Clark. This information must get out. Clark is UNFIT to be Commander in Chief, Veep, or Sec. of Defense.
The Dems only like his military experience because they believe it gives him credibility and them cover to attack the Pentagon.
Considering the last half must be Graham, Braun, Sharpton, Lieberman, and Kucinich, and they're off the charts, I'd say he's right at the bottom.
Hey, it's not like we never had a Benedict Arnold before.
Republicans see general as a POS Clintonite.