Monday, July 7, 2008

What Did Gneral Clark Say?

I heard some discussion the other day of something that apparently General Wesley Clark said in an interview on one of the Sunday programs. I searched for a transcript and found what follows posted on General Clark's web site:

Bob Schieffer: Well you, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, "untested and untried," And I must say I, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years. How can you say that John McCain is un- untested and untried? General?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-'

Bob Schieffer: Well-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ' -it publicly.' He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

Bob Schieffer: Well, well, General, maybe-


Bob Schieffer: Could I just interrupt you. If-


Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.

Bob Schieffer: Really?!

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But Barack is not, he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment. And those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.

Bob Schieffer: Well, let me ask you this. Senator Obama announced yesterday that he's going to Europe and to the Middle East. Most people think that he'll probably stop off in Iraq where he hasn't been in more than two years. Why now?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I think this is a good opportunity. It's a window of time. The Convention is late in the calendar this year, and he's got the window of time to go overseas, meet with foreign leaders. You know, we were meeting with him the other day and as he said he doesn't want to count his chickens before he, before they hatch. But he recognizes this country is in such a plight, both at home and abroad that no one can contemplate taking the office of the Presidency without having some very good ideas about what needs to be done from the get-go. There's not a learning period in this job. The next President's going to have to step right into the job. He's going to have to have the policies there. And I think Barack is taking a, a very sensible view of this by going abroad and meeting firsthand the leaders at this critical moment in, in times of America's needs abroad.

Bob Schieffer: General, what do you think would be the impact, let's say on Iran, on the neighborhood around Iraq if in fact Senator Obama is elected and he does announce that he's going to bring back the troops on a specific time schedule? As Senator Lieberman said, he's totally discounting things that could happen along the way. Would he follow that schedule no matter what?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't think Barack Obama is discounting things that have happened along the way. I think the critique is more like this, Bob, that the Bush administration and Joe Lieberman in the forefront have from the beginning relied excessively on military force as the answer to all the nation's security problems. And what Barack Obama understands is that military force may have to be used as a last resort, but it's not the first resort. So, let's take the case of Iraq. This administration went to a war it didn't really have to fight. Barack Obama called it like it was at the time in a speech early on before we went into Iraq. And once there, the administration relied excessively on the men and women in uniform. It failed to put in place the overarching diplomatic strategy and the regional strategy that was necessary to deal with Iraq's neighbors. It more or less invited Iranian incursions by threatening that Ira- Iran and Syria were next on the hit list in military actions and, and efforts in the region without having an effective strategy in the region. So, when we talk about troop withdrawals from Iraq, yes, I think the major muscle movement for the United States needs to be less reliance on military power and more reliance on all the other tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy. So, it's within that vein that Barack Obama is talking about pulling troops back from Iraq. It doesn't mean that he's not going to be sensitive to other actions in the region. He's going to be much more sensitive to those actions than the kind of mechanistic, militaristic response that John McCain has habitually given. What I can foresee- ...
I think Clark will not be the Vice-Presidential candidate but probably Secretary of Defense or maybe Secretary of State.

My guess is that the Obama campaign knew and approved Clark's comments.


~Betsy said...

My thoughts are that if we do a troop withdrawal according to Obama's schedule, we will be in big trouble. You can't just line them up and march them out. That's how folks get killed.

For General Clark to say McCain is not qualified due to his veteran record is absurd. He looks foolish making these statements. I find it disgraceful to his uniform.

One of Many said...

I came across this blog while surfing – hope you don’t mind a comment. Your family stories are great – I do family research and the stories here are wonderful. My mother had Alzheimer’s for 10 years so I can relate.

However, I just wanted to comment on Betsy’s comment about General Clark’s blown out of context statement on Senator McCain. She misstated that Clark said “McCain is not qualified due to his veteran record”. Clark never said that, nor did he imply that. His comments are about entitlement. Because someone was shot down and was in a POW camp does not automatically entitle that person to be president of the United States. It does entitle him to be honored and respected, which was exactly what General Clark did. McCain is my Senator and I have voted for him over the years, but there are many issues he must overcome to get my vote as President. Military service is a plus in my opinion to be president, however, all factors must taken into consideration.

I agree General Clark will likely be a cabinet member and his vast experience will make him an excellent Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense if Obama is elected.

Thank you for allowing me to intrude on your blog.

Lori1955 said...

Maybe they should come up with a specific list of qualifications to be President. So far General Clark has told us that serving your country doesn't qualify John McCain but being a nice guy does qualify Barack Obama. I have to admit that Senator Obama is a great communicator. Maybe he is going to talk us out of Iraq. Hmmm.

One of Many said...

The Constitution has a "specific list" of qualifications for being president of the United States – you have be a natural born citizen, be at least 35 years old, and reside at least 14 years within the US – military experience is not required.

Lori1955 said...

LOL. Those are not the type of qualifications I was refering too. I know a lot of 35+ year old citizens who are not qualified to be president.(myself included)