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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Wesley Clark

By chance, I read two Wesley Clark pieces today. The first is a fairly lengthy article authored by the General in The Washington Monthly, "America's Virtual Empire." Essentially, Clark offers an extended critique of US foreign policy under Bush -- especially the neoimperial aspects.

It is particularly interesting that Clark makes many of the criticisms Bush made in 2000. Here's a good snippet on nation-building:
U.S. foreign policy has become dangerously dependent on its military. The armed forces are now practically the only effective play in the U.S. repertoire. Only they have the personnel, funding, and transportation to deliver relief supplies; organize training for armies and police; install communications and power; advise ministries of justice, health, and finance; build bridges; support election efforts; and inoculate and treat host populaces. Yet such problems are not among their primary missions. The troops often resent being asked to tackle these issues, to which they bring, often very understandably, a narrow, almost mechanical approach. For all their versatility, they lack the knowledge, skills, staying power, and scale to manage seriously a large nation on a continuing basis. They are unable to foment deep-rooted political development. They lack the skills and experience to revise constitutions, rework property laws and criminal statutes, and methodically bore into the deepest aspects of the societies. Troops are not police officers; the kind of investigations and anticorruption efforts essential in nation-building are largely beyond them.
There's much more and I encourage people to read it.

The second piece is an interview from the October 16 Rolling Stone. Obviously, I fall behind reading the non-political magazines in my house.

The interview has some strong words. Here's a taste, as Larry Solum would say:
We made a historic strategic blunder. We attacked a state rather than going after a terrorist. Iraq had no connection to the war on terror. Of all the states in the Middle East to give chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to terrorists, least likely was Iraq.
Here's something on one of my favorite topics -- the public sphere:
I don't believe that government is made better by secrecy and restraint. It's made better by transparency, by being open and honest. If you're right, you're right. If not, you take your licks.
There's not a great deal to learn in this interview, but it shows a little of Clark's personality and devotes a lot of attention to foreign policy.

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