Wesley 'Queeg' Clark - September 19, 2003
After his "K Street" cameo and Begala-Carville-scripted debate zinger, it makes you wonder if George Clooney wrote Dean's latest one-liner. Anyway, these days it seems that some political analysts have a bad case of White House envy. And the condition is manifesting itself as selective amnesia. The absent-minded experts have been describing the latest presidential contender in the Democrat chain gang as anti-war.
It's true that Clark was one of the many wrong-gongers who issued a forecast on the initial fighting. In March, just before the quickest military campaign in history took place, he told a TV audience that a quick victory was "not going to happen." But a month earlier, prior to the start of the war, Clark was urging our allies to join us, saying, "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 ..."
While most of the Dem candidates are focusing on the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction, Clark's comments on WMDs seem to stand out like an Arkansas intern with big hair. Before he was a candidate, the retired general stated that Hussein did "have weapons of mass destruction." And when asked whether he was sure of this, he replied, "Absolutely." Clark also indicated that he thought the WMDs would be found because of the existence of "so much intelligence."
When the initial fighting appeared to be over and the statues were falling in Baghdad, Clark joined the victory party saying, "Liberation is at hand." In a piece in the London Times, he wrote a Patton-like passage, saying, "Already the scent of victory is in the air."
Clark praised the military strategy used by the Bush team as "a lean plan, using only about a third of the ground combat power of the Gulf War. ... They certainly made the right call." And he declared that Bush and Blair "should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt."
In light of the panoply of previous statements, it's no great surprise that Clark is now waffling on whether he would have voted to approve the Iraq war.
Wesley "Queeg" Clark was involved in some troublesome events during the Clinton years. It was his good buddy Bill Clinton who set aside the Posse Comitatus Act, allowing Clark to "loan" armor and service personnel to be used against the Branch Davidians at Waco.
Clark also presided over a war against Yugoslavia on behalf of the Muslim Kosovo Liberation Army without any authorization by Congress and without a resolution from the U.N. Afterward, Russian troops took control of the Pristina airfield in Kosovo, so Clark ordered an air attack on the Russians. British General Michael Jackson refused the order, telling Clark, "Sir, I'm not starting World War Three for you." Adm. James Ellis gave a similar response to Clark when asked to launch a helicopter raid on the airfield.
Clark's Caine mutiny moment at Pristina was the likely reason that the Pentagon sent him out to pasture early. As Richard Cohen wrote, "Clark in effect got fired from the Pentagon. Not to put too fine a point on it, then-Defense Secretary Bill Cohen, joined by many of Clark's colleagues, came to just plain dislike him." Bill Cohen reportedly told Clark via Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton, "Get your ****ing face off of TV."
Well, apparently CNN's Lou Dobbs assisted Bill Cohen in removing Clark's TV face. Dobbs banned Clark from appearing on his show because Clark "seemed to push his own political agenda" rather than stick to military analysis.
Much like another Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas, Clark has had to engage in damage control for his blatantly inaccurate statements. On "Meet the Press," Clark stated that the White House called him on 9/11 and tried to get him to "pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein." Clark later corrected himself in writing, indicating that the call came instead from "a Middle East think tank outside the country."
For diversity fans, everyman Clark is a Southern Baptist who converted to Catholicism and later discovered that he's part Jewish. Maybe next week he'll find out there's a bit of Bahai and a smidgen of Muslim in his ancestral tree, too.
Lastly, Clark has Michael Moore's Academy Award-whining support. Moore is still aflutter after Clark defended his stupid white man acceptance speech that even the lefties booed at the Oscars. He wrote on his Web site: "You boldly said that my dissent was necessary and welcome. I was floored - a GENERAL standing up for me."
Hey, Michael. I wouldn't get too comfy in an upright position. After getting a load of Clark's Queeginess, you just may be hitting that linoleum again soon.