Monday, January 12, 2004

Clark, the anti-war candidate?

I recently read a post on Joshua Marshall's blog, Talking Points Memo, that got my back up. I thought he made at least one statement that was inaccurate about both Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Marshall sourced an AP article that talked about Dean's 'attack flyers' against Clark. Dean responded as follows:

If the fliers said that General Clark was originally for the war and now is against it, that's accurate...

To this, Marshall says:
I hesitate to call it a lie because I don't know if Dean knows it's false, though he should.

The falsity of the claim is well-known to anyone who closely followed the debate over Iraq in the lead-up to the war and particularly Clark's role in that debate.

Well, I thought I followed the pre-Iraq debate fairly closely, and there was a time when I would have said, yeah, Clark is anti-war - that is, he was against the Iraq War, but I wouldn't say that anymore (see details below).

Now, there's the debate about whether Clark is actually anti-Iraq War, and then there's the time-wasting task of analyzing whether or not Clark, or any of the candidates for that matter, is just plain 'ol 'anti-war' - as in the 60's sense of the term - meaning, someone who opposes every war all the time, without exception. So, I take Marshall to task on whether Clark was (or is) anti-Iraq War, but it seems like Marshall is somehow hung up the impropriety of Dean's folks calling-out Clark's folks' claim that Clark is anti-war, when in fact Clark is not actually anti-war, he is/was merely anti-Iraq War. At least, this is what I think Joshua is getting at because, honestly, I don't understand all of his post. If you can figure out the passage below, please drop me a line - I don't have my PhD yet, so you'll just have to bear with me until then - count on, oh, 2030 or so.
There's a lot of foolishness being peddled to the effect that Clark is claiming he's an "anti-war" candidate when he's not. (This is the upshot of the flyers Dean campaign workers are distributing at Clark rallies.) This is a very loaded term. One can believe this whole enterprise was badly misconceived and handled even worse and not have that sentiment diminished by not singing folk songs.

So, is Clark anti-war? No. Is Dean anti-war? No. Is Kucinich anti-war? Maybe. Is anyone else anti-war? Probably not. Great. Glad we solved that. The point of this little exercise is that nobody is trying to push Clark as a purely anti-war guy, and nobody is claiming that Clark claims he himself is anti-war. Great, glad we solved that. Now, is/was Clark anti-Iraq War? A simple yes or no would be ideal, but I'll even accept caveats at this point.

A few weeks ago I read an interesting, and ultimately depressing, article on General Clark. I actually liked the guy, and still like him, I just like him a lot less now. The article details Clark's seemingly-wavering position on the War in Iraq. Of course, Clark is now known as one of the major 'anti-war' candidates - right behind Dean (both, actually, right behind Kucinich in terms of the strength of their anti-war stance).

The FAIR organization is one I'd heard about before, and I was honestly disappointed, in a way, that they did an exposé on one of my candidates. Well, as they say, though the heavens fall. It seems to me a 'fair' article. I actually went through the article, line by line, and pulled out every reference to every quote/clip and found them reproduced in many other publications around the Net - national and international sources - at least some of which could be called 'well-respected'. It's tight - I believe it.

Among the statements that Clark made that show he wavered on the issue of the War on Iraq, depending on how well things were going for the troops over there, follows. Neither quote says "Yes! Attack! Attack!", but they certainly say, "Yes. Attack."

  • The credibility of the United States is on the line, and Saddam Hussein has these weapons and so, you know, we're going to go ahead and do this and the rest of the world's got to get with us....

  • I probably wouldn't have made the moves that got us to this point. But just assuming that we're here at this point, then I think that the president is going to have to move ahead, despite the fact that the allies have reservations.

Now, probably the scariest quote from Clark came from an article he wrote for The London Times. Here you can really see the pride that Clark takes in the U.S. military and its power to conquer. I don't have too much of a problem with this, in and of itself, but Clark wrote this article on 4/11/03 - just after the fall of baghdad - just after America took on a defenseless, sovereign nation and blasted it back into the stone age, killing thousands of innocents - collateral damage as it were:
The campaign in Iraq illustrates the continuing progress of military technology and tactics, but if there is a single overriding lesson it must be this: American military power, especially when buttressed by Britain's, is virtually unchallengeable today. Take us on? Don't try! And that's not hubris, it's just plain fact.

I'll go ahead and say it - this quote is Hitler-esque. This guy is scary. He must've been feeling 'the power' when he wrote this article, and that scares me. George W. Bush certainly felt 'the power'. Yes, the U.S. military is God-like in its power - we can decimate at will, and we have, and if Bush or Clark get to office I'm afraid we will again.

That's why I changed my mind about Clark. He seems like a fairly upstanding guy, but he's too militaristic - doesn't value human life enough for my likes.

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