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September 24, 2003

SHELTON ON CLARK....Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the Kosovo war, had this to say about Wesley Clark recently:

I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote.

If Shelton wants to say why he doesn't like Clark, fine. Go ahead and say it. But to make a weasely accusation like this and then pretend to a faux nobility by not going into details is just plain cowardly, and Shelton should be ashamed of himself.

Either shut up or spill the beans. There's no middle road.

Posted by Kevin Drum at September 24, 2003 08:01 PM | TrackBack


Comments

"Integrity and character" are traditional Bush administration weasel words, too. Every time someone points out that some Bush appointee has, say, been a convicted criminal, Bush defends the person as "a man of character and integrity" or some such.

Posted by: Avram at September 24, 2003 08:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, that's exactly what I said. If he wants to say why he doesn't like Clark, fine. But weaselly stuff like this doesn't demand any respect.

Posted by: John at September 24, 2003 08:19 PM | PERMALINK

TNR's blog, which is pretty schizophrenic on Clark, has his back this time.

Posted by: Haggai at September 24, 2003 08:20 PM | PERMALINK

Does Enter Stage Right really deserve to be taken seriously?

Posted by: Kennedy at September 24, 2003 09:08 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Shelton was a Clinton pick for CJCS, over the heads of more senior officers and a first unconventional warfare specialist to hold that post. Why assume automatically he's a Bush operative ? He could be anti-Clark on purely personal or professional grounds, not political.

Posted by: mark safranski at September 24, 2003 09:19 PM | PERMALINK

He could be anti-Clark on purely personal or professional grounds, not political.

He sure could be. And he even might have a real reason (or reasons) for what he says about Clark (for whom I won't vote).

He won't tell, though.

Posted by: Rick at September 24, 2003 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that in Newsweek, Shelton is quoted as saying that Clark is a "nut."

Posted by: Kevin Murphy at September 24, 2003 09:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why assume automatically he's a Bush operative?

Because he's acting like one?

Because he's reciting the same meme Silly Sully's been typing?

Just a guess...

Posted by: dave at September 24, 2003 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you, Kevin. I think Shelton should either explain exactly what he means, or keep his mouth shut.

I've received a lot of email about my post, much of it accusing me of jumping on a "trash Clark" bandwagon, the rest of it questioning my judgment in linking Enter Stage Right (like the commenter above). In my own defense:

1) I'm not anti-Clark - I considered Shelton's comment provocative and I think it's important to find out exactly where he's coming from.

2) The Enter Stage Right link was unfortunate - the post is admittedly inflammatory. I linked it because it provided some speculation about what Shelton might have meant (essentially that Shelton disliked Clark because Clark bypassed the chain of command and talked directly to President Clinton). I wanted to provide that context - the same speculation was available from other sources, though, and I suppose I should have used one of those.

Posted by: BTD Steve at September 24, 2003 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

I asked my uncle, a career Air Force man who worked in the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, if he knew Clark and what he thought of his candidacy. His response:

I know Gen Wes Clark firsthand ...[his ellipsis] not appropriate for me to comment on his suitability for the position he seeks. I plan to vote for President Bush.
This is not surprising: my uncle's also a lifelong Republican. But perhaps Shelton restricted his comments out of a similar adherence to this sense of honor within the military.

I think my uncle is entitled to withold his personal opinion; once Shelton entered the public forum, I believe he forfeited this shield against criticism.

Posted by: Matt W. at September 25, 2003 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

It's certainly OK to criticize Gen. Shelton for NOT specifying why his opinion on Gen. Clark is that Clark is unsuitable. Anybody giving a public talk must be open to criticism on their opionions, both for expressed and unexpressed reasons.
It's funny how I also think Shelton should tell; but then imagine that Shelton wants the "bombshell" to be bigger, when he does tell.

Donald Sensing has lots more on Clark and Clark's fairly unsupportive peers -- if most Generals are unwilling to support Clark, that's a big message.

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 25, 2003 02:03 AM | PERMALINK

In regards to Shelton's comments:

A hero is never a hero to his valet.

Posted by: tristero at September 25, 2003 04:20 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously there was some issue there, since CLark was removed from command, which is an unusual move. Was it that he was being too critical, ruffling the feathers of those above him? Was he seen as getting out of line and pursuing his own policy too much? Was it something else?

This quote sounds vague and ominous, but I can't believe there is a real definite scandal there, or Clark wouldn't be seen as a viable candidate, since it's obvious this would get a lot of scrutiny and the truth will come out.

As for the lack of support from fellow officers, I put much less stock in this. First, the armed forces are, in my experience, overwhelmingly Republican, so it's not surprising that there aren't a lot of them jumping forward to endorse a Democratic candidate.

Second, I'm sure there were resentments against him, as there is for any "golden boy" who leapfrogs through the ranks of an established bureaocratic system. The people already near the top that have steadfastly marched upward through the organization hate rising stars that breeze upward and take their place.

Posted by: Doug Turnbull at September 25, 2003 05:48 AM | PERMALINK

I know Gen Wes Clark firsthand ...[his ellipsis] not appropriate for me to comment on his suitability for the position he seeks. I plan to vote for President Bush.

Is that the same GW who skipped his last year of National Guard duty...bankrupted two or three companies and walked away wealthier that when he went in...violated SEC regs on his Harken stock sale...drunkenly challenged his father to a fight...GW aka DUI.

Posted by: Mike at September 25, 2003 06:12 AM | PERMALINK

If you can't or won't say why you're not supporting Clark, then you shouldn't say anything at all, and you certainly shouldn't open the door to all sorts of innuendo.

Shelton's comments were unprofessional and cowardly, I couldn't care less who appointed him or what his political affiliations might be.

IOW, what Kevin said.

Posted by: Ringo Mountbatten at September 25, 2003 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

I must say that comments like Shelton's are starting to have a wearing effect on me. I like the idea of a Democrat General President, but something is holding me back from outright siding with Clark and against Dean. What it is is the absolute dearth of former colleagues who are willing to say anything nice about him.

Ad Shelton's remarks to the bio articles following Clark's announcement, and I get the impression that people are perfectly willing to use compliments, calling him "driven," "relentless," "brilliant," "determined," "unwilling to lose," etc. But I get the sense that these are largely backhanded compliments, as they tend to accompany the adjective "arrogant," and an unwillingess to say anything like "what a great man to work with" or "a good leader." It makes me wonder whether his arrogance really is so great as to diminish has leadership ability.

Shelton was unfair, but I think we also have to realize that there's a side of the character story other than what's in Clark's memoirs.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar at September 25, 2003 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

2) The Enter Stage Right link was unfortunate - the post is admittedly inflammatory. I linked it because it provided some speculation about what Shelton might have meant (essentially that Shelton disliked Clark because Clark bypassed the chain of command and talked directly to President Clinton). I wanted to provide that context - the same speculation was available from other sources, though, and I suppose I should have used one of those.

The main problem with that argument (not yours, BTD Steve, the one in the link you provided) is that it is almost certainly not true. In his own book, Clark talks about having never discussed strategy in Kosovo with Clinton, and hardly talking to him at all during the war. In the conclusion (of Waging Modern War), Clark says that as NATO Supreme Commander, he had the right to demand direct contact with the head of state of anyone in the alliance, including America, but that he never used that option to go around his superiors.

David Halberstam's War in a Time of Peace is by and large a pretty pro-Clark account of events, although Halberstam does criticize him from time to time (like for meeting with the bloodthirsty Bosnian Serb General Mladic in 1994--Halberstam characterized it as sort of a rookie mistake, although Clark defends it in Waging Modern War). The book reports that a lot of people in the military suspected that Clark was doing end-runs around them to speak directly to the White House, where he could talk to his fellow Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas, but that this simply wasn't true. It was almost all perception, almost no reality.

Posted by: Haggai at September 25, 2003 07:04 AM | PERMALINK

I hold no brief for or against Clark - I offered some measured praise for him here a while back and most people who get 4 stars these days have to be rather bright and avoid any serious missteps. His aggressive posture on Kosovo was the right policy in my view.

Clark's removal from his NATO post was so unusual that it would have required review by civilian officials in the Clinton DoD - at least the Secretary of the Army and a deputy Defense Secretary.(This was a move that affected our NATO allies as well so it was not a run of the mill personnel issue).More likely, the Secretary of Defense and possibly it crossed Clinton's desk as well, albeit probably in a blizzard of other memos. So it wasn't just the brass that wanted Clark gone

Posted by: mark safranski at September 25, 2003 07:14 AM | PERMALINK

You may very well be right, Haqqai. But if you are, the question remains what Shelton was talking about, and why Clinton fired Clark from NATO command. I'm curious what really happened, but speaking purely in political/image terms, the "end run around superiors" problem isn't much of a problem for Clark. Shelton's comments could be attributed to pettiness or jealousy.

Posted by: BTD Steve at September 25, 2003 07:18 AM | PERMALINK

BTD Steve, according to many accounts, certainly Halberstam's, the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs basically snookered Clinton and the White House into pushing Clark out. They convinced the White House that they were just replacing one good guy (Clark) with another good guy (Joe Ralston), with there being nothing unusual (so they claimed) about slightly shortening Clark's tour of duty. That narrative makes considerably more sense, in my strong opinion, than any speculation I've heard about Clinton himself (or almost anyone else outside the Pentagon--Albright in particular was very pro-Clark) wanting him gone. Such theories have rapidly descended into tin-foil hat land in the hands of reliably conspiracy-minded people like William Safire.

As for Shelton, I don't know. Clark frequently had problems with his superiors, and I'm not silly enough to assume that Clark was entirely blameless in every case. But the overall point about Clark having, and using, some Arkansas/Rhodes Scholar/good old boy connection with Clinton appears to be the main thing that his superiors convinced themselves of, even though it didn't work that way at all.

Posted by: Haggai at September 25, 2003 07:31 AM | PERMALINK

I think that the criticism of General Shelton for not being explicit about what he thought were Wesley Clarks flaws is unfair. He was asked in a public dicussion "What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate,". Given the question I do not see how else he could have truthfully answered without misleading his audience.

Posted by: RF at September 25, 2003 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

RF: He should have either said simply that he doesn't think it's appropriate to comment on that, or else he should have explained what he meant. The option he chose is childish. Is Clark a child molester, or what?

It's pretty common knowledge that a lot of his fellow officers didn't like Clark, although I should add that I've also read some very complimentary comments about him from colleagues. The question is: is it because he has brilliant ideas about transforming the military and is therefore hated by a tradition bound bureaucracy, or is it because he's a jackass?

Pretty hard to tell, really.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at September 25, 2003 08:34 AM | PERMALINK

CNN had on a senior general they sometimes have, a white guy who's affable in a way Clark is too high-strung to be. He pretty explicitly sided with Clark, saying he never saw anything wrong with him, and questioned the general who attacked him (likely this guy). They asked him if he'd vote for Clark, and he said: "Well, I don't intend to vote for any of the ten candidates from that party." And everyone laughed. Like I said, a likeable guy, and the Clark people could use this. I don't expect much media airplay for it (it goes against the new line), but it's on film.

Posted by: John Isbell at September 25, 2003 08:42 AM | PERMALINK

Look, the truth is Clark does have some professional baggage. He's not liked in a lot of circles of the military because he's viewed as loose cannon, sort of a professional political-general and something of a back stabber. Al Haig was also not that well respected in the ranks for not dissimilar reasons.

Posted by: Doug Rivers at September 25, 2003 08:51 AM | PERMALINK

This would be the same Shelton that manuevered to get Clark fired, right?

Posted by: Jason McCullough at September 25, 2003 08:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Either shut up or spill the beans. There's no middle road."

Yup. I hate it when people broadcast that they have a secret reason for disliking someone.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at September 25, 2003 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

[i]This would be the same Shelton that manuevered to get Clark fired, right?[/i]

Also the same one that refused to come to Clark's retirement ceremony--and needless to say, the refusal of a joint chief to come to the retirement of a four star is a nearly unprecedented slap in the face.

Shelton has always had huge personal issues with Clark. They might be justified, they might not--but any criticsm must be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Posted by: Joe at September 25, 2003 09:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it's interesting that Ramesh Ponnuru over at National Review Online (your philosophical opposite, one would think), agrees with you on this 100%. Here is the link: http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/03_09_21_corner-archive.asp#013763

Posted by: Stuart at September 25, 2003 09:18 AM | PERMALINK

It seems important to note that he was asked this question. It is not like HE was going out of his way to talk about Clark.

Posted by: Mark Cates at September 25, 2003 09:42 AM | PERMALINK

Look, I want Bush out at least as much as you do, because, speaking as a British subject, he seems to have rather more power over the foreign and defence policies of my country than- to take two completely random examples- the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary of the UK do.

But is Clark really the man? He's got a Vietnam record, was wounded in action and decorated for gallantry, but so was John Kerry, who also has political experience. Why not go for Kerry instead? There seems to be this despairing subtext to a lot of the posts on Clark, along the lines of 'he's the one Democrat who can sound more credible than Bush on national security'. Given GW's record 'in' the military, ie as a non-attending National Guardsman, I would have thought anybody, certainly including a veteran like Kerry, could have smashed Bush on national defence.

Shelton should indeed put up or shut up, but as I have pointed out many times, Clark has the distinction of being a General whose orders were disobeyed by his subordinates. That just doesn't usually happen in the military.

Posted by: Dan Hardie at September 25, 2003 09:57 AM | PERMALINK

Shelton is a putz. Along with his crony, Secretary Cohen, he helped get his boy Raltson the top job. A more respected general had this to say about Clark:

"I have watched him at close range for 35 years, in which I have looked at the allegation, and I found it totally unsupported," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who taught with Clark at West Point in the 1970s. "That's not to say he isn't ambitious and quick. He is probably among the top five most talented I've met in my life. I think he is a national treasure who has a lot to offer the country."

McCaffrey acknowledges that Clark was not the most popular four-star general in the Army leadership. "This is no insult to Army culture, a culture I love and admire," McCaffrey said, "but he was way too bright, way too articulate, way too good looking and perceived to be way too wired to fit in with our culture. He was not one of the good ol' boys."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21814-2003Sep16.html

Posted by: nameless at September 25, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, it's a free country, he can say what he wants.

Oh, wait, no its not.

Posted by: Ralph at September 25, 2003 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I was in the military once upon a time and know from experience that being a good officer is not always good for your military career. Telling senior officers that they are wrong can lead to hostility and backstabbing if you are correct. You are a threat that must be dealt with before you can damage their careers.

I don't know if that is true of Gen. Clark but from seeing comments about him from former Army generals, it looks like they were threatened by his abilities and has nothing to do with any bad acts on Gen. Clark's part.

Posted by: Mike at September 25, 2003 02:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Either shut up or spill the beans."

Sounds like good advice for Ed Kennedy.

Posted by: brett at September 25, 2003 03:34 PM | PERMALINK

WTF? We ask ex-military people their opinion of fellow officers, they answer in the patois of their experience (after all , that is WHY we ask them for their assessment) and then damn them for not speaking as we would, or think they should.

The military is an entirely different culture. [Something to remember before you have an orgasm over candidate Clark, or Colin Powell or anyone else].

Finally, To call Shelton a "coward" because he did not "dish" over Clark when Shelton did not volunteer an opinion...?? Speaking of Cowardice - why don't you say this to Shelton's face?

Posted by: Californio at September 25, 2003 03:45 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of answering in the "patois of experience", using the good old English language, American dialect, would be helpful to those of us without military experience, which AFAIK is most of the American voters these days.

Why doesn't Shelton state his opinion to Clark's face?

Posted by: Dark Avenger at September 26, 2003 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Dark Avenger:

Please note- Shelton is not running for anything, so he can speak any damn way he pleases - from pentagon-speak to Haiku verse. In the context of the quote - Shelton did not call a news conference and then play coy with the press. In a totally unrelated (to the election) forum, a member of the public asked him point blank his opinion of Clark and if he would support him.

Anything short of saying "I know Clark fucks goats" could be interpreted as being coy or "implying something. Imagine interviewing a job candidate and while he touted his 20+ year experience at ABC Corp. , he really could not recommend anyone there as a reference. Upon digging, his friends say "Well he did well at ABC corp but most everyone there was just jealous of his superior intellect." Alrighty!

I respectfully submit that instead of trashing someone who intimates that he has real problems with a candidate for President of the U.S., maybe you should not "get married" to that candidate in the first week of his campaign.

Posted by: Californio at September 26, 2003 01:37 AM | PERMALINK

Addendum:

I think Shelton would (and has) told Clark to his face what he thinks of him. I would be greatly surprised however, if Shelton would do this for the entertainment of the polity in front of TV cameras.

Posted by: Californio at September 26, 2003 01:40 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if his intent is to warn people about Clark, he should: either hire a translator, if his speech is limited to military patois, Haiku verse, or a Basque dialect found only in a 10-square-mile area of Spain; or speak plainly so that we know why and what he's warning us about. Whether or not Shelton is running for anything is immaterial.

I'm not running for anything, so should I use Valley-speak in all my comments, and warn everyone: "Like, dude, there's a really, really gnarly time going down soon, so stock up on your wax burners and metal food."?

So it's okay to ask someone if they have the balls to criticize Shelton to his face, but to ask Shelton to criticize Clark to his face is somehow different? What's wrong with allowing Clark to answer Shelton directly on a question about his fitness for the highest office in the land? I think it might be a substantial exchange.

Clark has had favorable comments from (ret)General McCaffrey, and he was specific about what he liked about Clark. It wasn't vague as in the ABC example you cited above.

If you're a native Californian, well, so is Joan Didion, and I just hope you're not as wacked-out as she is these days.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at September 26, 2003 09:18 AM | PERMALINK

Well, well, well - I just heard that Shelton has been working on the "Edwards for President."

Hmmmmm.

Posted by: JaneKat at November 12, 2003 08:03 AM | PERMALINK

obviously, this is a partisan attack and cannot be taken seriously. Here's an excerpt from a press conference held by Hugh Shelton and Sec. of Defense Cohen:

"Q: This is General Clarke's last visit to Kosovo today. Any word on how he has performed his job?

Sec Def.: He has done an extraordinary job. General Clarke is one of our most brilliant officers. He undertook a mission that is perhaps one the most complicated and complex and carried it out successfully. As I mentioned in my remarks, this air campaign was the most successful in the history of warfare. We had over 38,000 sorties that were flown. We had only two planes that were shot down and no pilots lost. That is a record that is unparalleled in the history of warfare. So, General Clarke and his entire staff and subordinates and all who participated deserve great credit.

Q: Why is he leaving office, then?

Sec Def.: He is leaving because we have General Ralston who will become the new SACEUR. We are now replacing many of our CINCs throughout the world.

Q: It is not a reflection on his performance?

Sec Def: No reflection at all. He has done an outstanding job as the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Southern Command, and he did an outstanding job here as EUCOM Commander and also as SACEUR"

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2000/t05022000_t501koso.html

whose got integrity issues?


Posted by: tim at November 26, 2003 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

clark is like eisenhour a political general that got promoted through politics and pull not merit

Posted by: don at January 7, 2004 09:35 AM | PERMALINK

How about this: I have had direct dealings with GEN (Ret) Clark - and I know people for and with whom he has worked. I have also met and worked with GEN Shelton. These men are night and day different. Shelton is a likable, genuine man who tells you about his kids, and life in general, and who encourages young soldiers before he testifies with them at Senate hearings (without any lawyers). I was just a nobody Major and Shelton was a four star, and he had time to talk not only to me, but the driver like we were people equal to him. Clark ain't like that. I also take issue with this bleating whine that GEN Shelton is somehow a wimp. He is Special Forces, Ranger, Master Parachutist, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's badge, Bronze Star with V (Valor) device and other awards for heroism) Shelton is definitely not a weasel for failing to provide details on Clark's lying. Has anyone considered that there might be larger concerns, such as those ref ongoing policy in situations where our troops or diplomats could be victimized where bickering involves disagreements on substantive issues within the Defense establishment? No.

Clark wears shoulder pads in his coats and lifts in his shoes. That is where the deception starts. Where it ends is anyone's guess. Shelton indicates that he is a liar, pretty clearly.

But consider this: Wes Clark promised no more terrorist attacks if he is elected. This is a practical impossibility to guarantee, leaving us with an inescpable choice between several unhappy possibilities, and no good ones. Either: a) Clark is a liar b) Clark is an idiot or, c) Clark is in cahoots with all the capable terrorists in the world.

It pains me to say it as a military man - but Kerry is frankly a better pick from a military standpoint. At least you get what you see. Clark's no-class, "I was a General" speech makes him look like the crass careerist which he has always been.

Posted by: Jeff White at January 22, 2004 03:17 AM | PERMALINK

Shelton’s comment – albeit cryptic -- was unquestionably a negative comment by Clark’s superior concerning the circumstances under which Clark was prematurely relieved as SACEUR of NATO. Notwithstanding his ambiguity, Shelton clearly was referring to an incident (whether real or fictional).

Both Shelton (as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Clark (SACEUR of NATO) served under Clinton, and Clark was relieved of his commend during the Clinton Administration. Consequently, neither Dubya nor any partisan intrigue can be implicated.

Nor is Shelton the only Clark critic. Gen. Tommy Franks has been quoted saying he was certain Clark would not make a good president. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, in other interviews, essentially agreed with Franks.

When David Letterman (of all people) questioned Clark concerning Shelton’s comment, Clark became visibly rattled and dismissed it as a “smear” without further comment.

As evidence of his qualifications and fitness to be president, Clark relies solely on his military career. It is thus neither unforeseeable nor unreasonable that Clark’s military career be scrutinized. Before he can become president, Clark will have to address Shelton’s comment in greater detail.

It is entirely possible that Shelton’s comment concerns the following incident described by The Nation’s Katarina vanden Heuvel in a September 12, 2003 article entitled “Wesley Clark's 'High Noon’ Moment”:

On June 12, 1999, in the immediate aftermath of NATO’s air war against Yugoslavia, a small contingent of Russian troops dashed to occupy the Pristina airfield in Kosovo. Clark was so anxious to stop the Russians that he ordered an airborne assault to confront these units—an order which could have unleashed the most frightening showdown with Moscow since the end of the Cold War. Hyperbole? You can decide. But British General Michael Jackson, the three-star general and commander of K-FOR, the international force organized and commanded by NATO to enforce an agreement in Kosovo, told Clark: “Sir, I’m not starting world war three for you,” when refusing to accept his order to prevent Russian forces from taking over the airport . . .
After being rebuffed by Jackson, Clark, according to various media reports at the time, then ordered Admiral James Ellis, the American in charge of NATO’s southern command, to use Apache helicopters to occupy the airfield. Ellis didn’t comply—replying that British General Jackson would oppose such a move . . .
In the end, Russian reinforcements were stopped when Washington persuaded Hungary, a new NATO member, to refuse to allow Russian aircraft to fly over its territory. Meanwhile, Jackson was appealing to senior British authorities, who persuaded Clinton Administration officials—some of whom had previously favored occupying the airport—to drop support for Clark’s hotheaded plan. As a result, when Clark appealed to Washington, he was rebuffed at the highest levels.
The debacle described above betrays poor judgment and inept management unbefitting an American President.
I cannot fathom why Clark has not been asked to reconcile his support for war against Yugoslavia with his recently adopted opposition to war in Iraq, in light of the following facts:
1) the U.S. has no vital security interests in Yugoslavia, but does have vital security interests in Iraq;
2) Yugoslavia had not violated any UN resolutions;
3) Yugoslavia had not invaded any of its neighbors;
4) Yugoslavia neither possessed nor ever used WMDs;
5) Clinton did not even attempt to obtain UN approval, fearing Russia’s certain veto;
6) Clinton failed to obtain Congressional approval for the military action;
7) NATO, which by its charter is exclusively a defensive alliance, was transmogrified into a vehicle for aggression;
8) in Kosovo, the U.S. intervened in a civil war confined solely within Yugoslavia’s internationally recognized borders;
9) the U.S. fought on the side of the insurgent Muslim Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which the State Department listed as a terrorist organization and which included members of al Qaeda and other jihadists;
10) as bad as he was, in the hierarchy of mass murderers Milosevic is a choir boy compared to Saddam;
11) rather than risk any American casualties by committing ground troops to the battle zone (i.e., Kosovo), Clark’s forces bombed Yugoslavian civilian centers (i.e., cities and towns) nowhere near Kosovo for 78 continuous days and nights.

Clark should not be running for president; he should be on trial as a war criminal.

Posted by: Pericles at January 23, 2004 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

The following is a repost with corrected formatting:

Shelton’s comment – albeit cryptic -- was unquestionably a negative comment by Clark’s superior concerning the circumstances under which Clark was prematurely relieved as SACEUR of NATO. Notwithstanding his ambiguity, Shelton clearly was referring to an incident (whether real or fictional).

Both Shelton (as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Clark (SACEUR of NATO) served under Clinton, and Clark was relieved of his commend during the Clinton Administration. Consequently, neither Dubya nor any partisan intrigue can be implicated.

Nor is Shelton the only Clark critic. Gen. Tommy Franks has been quoted saying he was certain Clark would not make a good president. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, in other interviews, essentially agreed with Franks.

When David Letterman (of all people) questioned Clark concerning Shelton’s comment, Clark became visibly rattled and dismissed it as a “smear” without further comment.

As evidence of his qualifications and fitness to be president, Clark relies solely on his military career. It is thus neither unforeseeable nor unreasonable that Clark’s military career be scrutinized. Before he can become president, Clark will have to address Shelton’s comment in greater detail.

It is entirely possible that Shelton’s comment concerns the following incident described by The Nation’s Katarina vanden Heuvel in a September 12, 2003 article entitled “Wesley Clark's 'High Noon’ Moment”:

"On June 12, 1999, in the immediate aftermath of NATO’s air war against Yugoslavia, a small contingent of Russian troops dashed to occupy the Pristina airfield in Kosovo. Clark was so anxious to stop the Russians that he ordered an airborne assault to confront these units—an order which could have unleashed the most frightening showdown with Moscow since the end of the Cold War. Hyperbole? You can decide. But British General Michael Jackson, the three-star general and commander of K-FOR, the international force organized and commanded by NATO to enforce an agreement in Kosovo, told Clark: “Sir, I’m not starting world war three for you,” when refusing to accept his order to prevent Russian forces from taking over the airport . . . After being rebuffed by Jackson, Clark, according to various media reports at the time, then ordered Admiral James Ellis, the American in charge of NATO’s southern command, to use Apache helicopters to occupy the airfield. Ellis didn’t comply—replying that British General Jackson would oppose such a move . . . In the end, Russian reinforcements were stopped when Washington persuaded Hungary, a new NATO member, to refuse to allow Russian aircraft to fly over its territory. Meanwhile, Jackson was appealing to senior British authorities, who persuaded Clinton Administration officials—some of whom had previously favored occupying the airport—to drop support for Clark’s hotheaded plan. As a result, when Clark appealed to Washington, he was rebuffed at the highest levels."

The debacle described in the above article betrays Clark's poor judgment and inept management unbefitting an American President.

I cannot fathom why Clark has not yet been asked to reconcile his support for war against Yugoslavia with his recently adopted opposition to war in Iraq in light of the following facts:

1) the U.S. has no vital security interests in Yugoslavia, but does have vital security interests in Iraq;
2) Yugoslavia had not violated any UN resolutions;
3) Yugoslavia had not invaded any of its neighbors;
4) Yugoslavia neither possessed nor ever used WMDs;
5) Clinton did not even attempt to obtain UN approval, fearing Russia’s certain veto;
6) Clinton failed to obtain Congressional approval for the military action;
7) NATO, which by its charter is exclusively a defensive alliance, was transmogrified into a vehicle for aggression;
8) in Kosovo, the U.S. intervened in a civil war confined solely within Yugoslavia’s internationally recognized borders;
9) the U.S. fought on the side of the insurgent Muslim Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which the State Department listed as a terrorist organization and which included members of al Qaeda and other jihadists;
10) as bad as he was, in the hierarchy of mass murderers Milosevic is a choir boy compared to Saddam;
11) rather than risk any American casualties by committing ground troops to the battle zone (i.e., Kosovo), Clark’s forces bombed Yugoslavian civilian centers (i.e., cities and towns) nowhere near Kosovo for 78 continuous days and nights.

Clark should not be running for president; he should be on trial as a war criminal.

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