Sunday, June 15, 2003
Possible Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark displayed his calm and intelligence in a very interesting morning session with hors d’oeuvre-packed TV host Tim Russert on today’s Meet the Press.
On the deployment of US troops in the Occupied Territories:
You have to have legitimacy first. You have to have a mission first. You have to deal with the political situation first before you put the troops in. The NATO troops are going to be no more effective at stopping terrorist attacks than the Israeli troops are…you’ve got to have something that’s more concrete than the road map…but at some point, NATO certainly.
On Iran “regime change”:
I think that’s a dangerous position to take right now…military action…should be a last resort, because when you take military action, you have a lot of consequences that can’t be foreseen. And if the goal is to go after the weapons, then let’s go after the weapons the most direct way and that’s by inspections and pressure and visibility. You always have the military card behind at the end and that’s very clear but not the first card to be played.
The North Korean Nuclear Threat:
I think the red line’s already been crossed in North Korea, to be honest. That red line was crossed while we were engaged with Iraq. And North Koreans have told us…that they’ve begun reprocessing the plutonium and that it’s mostly completed in the reprocessing…if it’s reprocessed, if it’s out in the system, then what it mean is that even a pre-emptive strike on that facility won’t necessarily get the nuclear material…I think there’s a possibility that the nuclear genie is out and will be out, and that’s why I’ve been so concerned about the North Korean problem for a long time.
Was the US prepared for post war Iraq?
I think the answer is obviously—it’s obvious we weren’t…
On Iraqi WMD:
All of us in the community who read intelligence believe that Saddam wanted these capabilities and he had some…I think there was a certain amount of hype in the intelligence, and I think the information that’s come out thus far does indicate that there was a sort of selective reading of the intelligence in the sense of sort of building a case…I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something…it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House…I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, “You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein”…I got people calling me up and they would say, “Well, now, look, don’t you think the president might know something you don’t know?” And I certainly hoped he did. But it was never revealed what the imminence of the threat was.
On Congressional Hearings over faulty or manipulated intelligence:
I do think there has to be an accounting for this. I think really it goes back to 9/11. We’ve got a set of hearings that need to be conducted to look at what happened that caused 9/11. That really hasn’t been done yet. You know, a basic principle of military operations is you conduct an after-action review…You ask yourself what happened, why, and how do we fix it the next time? As far as I know, this has never been done about the essential failure at 9/11…these are matters that probably cannot be aired fully in public but I think that the American people and their representatives have to be involved in this. This is essential in terms of the legitimacy and trust in our elected leadership and our way of government.
Regarding a Presidential run:
I’d like a chance to help this country. And I don’t know if that means being president or doing something else. But I’ve spent my entire life in public service…and when you see the country in trouble, in challenge, yes, you’d like to pitch in and help…I’m a centrist on most of these issues, and I’ve got people after me from both sides of the aisle…a lot of Republicans have talked to me and they’ve said, “Look, we’re very concerned about where the country is.”
The Bush tax cuts:
I would not have supported them…they were not efficient in terms of stimulating the kind of demand we need to move the economy back into a recovery mode…Secondly, the tax cuts weren’t fair…you look at the long-run health of the country and the size of the deficit that we’ve incurred and a substantial part of that deficit is result of the tax cuts. You have to ask: “Is this wise, long-run policy?” I think the answer is no.
Patriot Act II:
I think one of the risks you have in this operation is that you’re giving up some of the essentials of what it is in America to have justice, liberty and the rule of law. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you abridge those rights to prosecute the war on terrorists.
University of Michigan Affirmative Action:
I’m in favor of the principle of affirmative action…we saw the benefits of affirmative action in the United States armed forces. It was essential in restoring the integrity and the effectiveness of the armed forces.
Gays in the Military:
We’ve got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, always have had, always will have. And I think that, you know, we should welcome people that want to serve. But we also have to maintain consistent standards of discipline; we have to have effective units…I do think that the sort of temperature of the issue has changed over the decade. People were much more irate about this issue in the early ’90s than I found in the late ’90s, for whatever reason, younger people coming in. It just didn’t seem to be the same emotional hot button issue by ’98, ’99, that it had been in ’92, ’93…the British have a system…They call it— they said, “Don’t ask, don’t misbehave.” I think the leaders in the armed forces will look at that some day. But I have to tell you, also, we have got a lot of other issues on the plate for the United States armed forces, and this is one among many.