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Friday, January 16, 2004

Wesley Clark and Richard Perle

Howard Dean, who apparently once flirted with Wesley Clark to see if the General wanted to be his Vice President, now says Clark is a Republican. Josh Marshall reports that Ed Gillespie and Matt Drudge are quoting identical congressional testimony from Clark, September 26, 2002, ostensibly highlighting Clark's support for the Iraq war.

However, as Marshall points out, if one actually reads the entire testimony (and not just the blips pulled out by Drudge and the RNC), Clark argued for war only if backed by a broad and legitimate multilateral coalition (preferably with the full support of the UN Security Council) and only after prolonged inspections. Clark also said that war was a bad idea unless the US was fully prepared for the post-war environment, which was likely to be quite chaotic. He warned against sinister forces taking WMD before they could be controlled and against fundamentalist takeover of Iraq.

Neoconservative Richard Perle also testified that day and he accused Clark of being "wildly optimistic" about inspections and "wholly pessimistic" about the post-war situation.

Gee, which one has been proved closer to right?

IAEA inspectors said in 2003 before the war began that there was no nuclear program -- and there was no nuclear program.

As for the post-war situation. Get a load of what Perle said:
I think nearly 30 years of Saddam Hussein's rule will inspire in the Iraqi people a desire for decent, humane government, and with help from us, I see no reason to assume (inaudible) that that can't be done. I think it can be done and I think the chances of success in that regard are infinitely greater than the likelihood that we will find the weapons of mass destruction that even a good inspection regime would be incompetent to unearth.
Hey. Maybe Perle knew there were no WMD to find, so he could make this otherwise incredible comparison.

Clark also points out the lack of connections between Iraq and al Qaeda (other than minor contacts), while Perle says the lack of evidence reflects incompetent intelligence since real (and dangerous) links are surely there.

Bottom line: Clark clearly wasn't shying away from the possibility of war with Iraq, and seemed to support congressional backing to support US policy at the UN, but he clearly thought the US had plenty of time to deal with a threat that was neither imminent, nor more important than the threat from Al Qaeda. Clark advocates the "narrowing" of the congressional resolution so as to reflect a balance of domestic power between Congress and the executive (p. 24): "not giving a blank check but expressing an intent to sign the check when all other alternatives are exhausted."

And this: "I think it's not time yet to use force against Iraq, but it is certainly time to put that card on the table, to turn it face up and to wave it." But he worries openly about an "enfeebled" UN (p. 26) and says the US should "exhaust all of the non force of arms remedies. (p. 27). And later (p. 31): "I personally really mean that you (sic) got to exhaust all the options first" before using force.

Interestingly, Clark also asserts that the intell the administration was using about a nuclear device referred to a dirty bomb, not a nuclear weapon (p. 28).

Here's what Perle said about Clark after the General left the room:
He seems to be preoccupied, and I'm quoting now, with building legitimacy, with exhausting all diplomatic remedies as though we hadn't been through diplomacy for the last decade, and relegating the use of force to a last resort, to building the broadest possible coalition...So I think General Clark simply doesn't want to see us use military force and he has thrown out as many reasons as he can develop to that but the bottom line is he just doesn't want to take action. He wants to wait."
In short, General Clark was making exactly the kinds of arguments advanced by France and Germany.

Yet, nobody is going around saying Chirac and Schoeder were really for the war.

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