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January 17, 2004

CLARK AND CONSISTENCY....There has been a minor internet storm recently over some of Wesley Clark's pronouncements on the war during 2002 and early 2003, but it's been so ridiculous that I just haven't had the heart to post about it. The nickel version is that Clark testified before Congress in 2002 that Saddam was a dangerous guy and it was appropriate to put a lot pressure on him. Then after the war was over he wrote an op-ed for the London Times congratulating everyone involved for having fought a brilliant campaign.

(For more on the congressional testimony "controversy," read Mark Kleiman here and Josh Marshall here and here. Mark discusses the London Times op-ed here.)

Even by normal campaign standards this little teapot tempest is almost Kafka-esque. It's painfully obvious that Clark could have agreed with the idea of passing the September war resolution as a way of pressuring Saddam, but that six months later he believed that the pressure was working and we shouldn't have gone to war. This, in turn, is also consistent with a belief that once we went to war he really wanted to see us win.

(What's more, this is consistent with everything we know about Clark. He's obviously no pacifist, but equally obviously he believes in multilateral military action used as a last resort. And he believes that once you've decided to fight, you fight to win. This is exactly how the Kosovo campaign went down.)

But the part I don't understand is why conservatives are crowing over this. Are they under the impression that having a moderate position on the war is an electoral loser? It seems just the opposite to me, even among Democrats.

But Mark brings up another point that I think is equally important: what this shows is simply that Clark has some intellectual integrity. He's willing to acknowledge that there are good arguments even for positions he opposes. Frankly, we could use more of that instead of the scorched earth tactics in which every possible argument from your opposites is deemed both absurd and fraudulent.

On balance, I support affirmative action even though I acknowledge that it has some ill effects. I just happen to think that the good outweighs the bad. Does that make me inconsistent? I hope not. And neither is Clark.

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 17, 2004 11:07 AM | TrackBack


I've read through all of Clark's statements on the war that Ive been able to find. I find Clark insightful, articulate and honest in each case. He's clearly a gifted thinker on matters of war. I'm with Kevin on this one. I don't see what all the falderol is about.

I am however surprised that his views on these matters would appeal to the activist part of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: spc67 at January 17, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

I am however surprised that his views on these matters would appeal to the activist part of the Democratic Party.

Anybody but Bush, baby, anybody but Bush.

Posted by: Thumb at January 17, 2004 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

The latest Drudge stuff is completely out of context; in the Sept. 2002 testimony Clark was clearly saying that it was not time to go to war. My beef with Clark on the war issue is that, between January and April 2003, he shifted to a position that could be characterized roughly as: I wouldn't have made the moves that got us here, but now that we're here, let's kick butt ... and then in April, after the fall of Baghdad, wrote some rather triumphalist stuff in the London Times (nobody can stand up to American might, so don't try it, suckers!) ... but then when he got into the race, tried to portray himself as having been as consistently against the war as Dean was (who maintained a strong stance against the war during the very period where the war was most popular).

Now, I don't think that changing one's mind according to circumstances makes Clark bad or wrong; his thinking was evolving and he was thinking out loud. But he did seem to shift from against the war to for the war to against it again, and what he says today about what his stand was seems like an oversimplification.

Posted by: Joe Buck at January 17, 2004 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Here is one blatant contradiction for sure:

These folks, scanning through archives and parsing every sentence of Clark's, are simlutaneously giving a free ride to Bush on campaign promises--"No nation building and fiscal conservatism"--that lured me to vote for GWB in the first place.

Yeah I am mad...

--Republicans for Bush--

Yes there are still some of us out here who actually believe in a private God, a united Country, and a fiscally responsible budget.

Posted by: Republicans for Clark at January 17, 2004 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

"Intellectual integrity"....what a relief that would be in the White House, instead of an uninformed, inarticulate, and mentally lazy President.

But, wait, I forgot! He "speaks with moral clarity".

Sorry,'ll have to do better.

Posted by: marty at January 17, 2004 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

In an interview a little over a month ago with Fox News, Clark made a statement that really ties all his other comments together. He said that our troops have done extremely well in the task they were asked to do -- but that they were asked to do the wrong task.

In other words, he was happy to see our military perform so well and demonstrate their ability since they were ordered into combate, but he disagreed with starting the war. And that's exasctly what you'd expect from a former general who has, like Dean, opposed this war at this time.

Posted by: jon at January 17, 2004 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Sure. I think either Dean or Clark would be a good candidate for President: I have a preference for Dean, but the important thing is, once the candidate is selected, for everyone who sees that Bush has to be rooted out of office to get behind the candidate. So if Dean wins the primaries, I'll expect to see Kevin supporting Dean: if Clark wins, I'll expect to see Katherine R over at Obsidian Wings supporting Clark. The one thing that's certain is that any of the candidates would be a better President than Bush. (Which is damning with faint praise for some of them, but there you go. Martin Sheen would be a better President than Bush.)

Posted by: Jesurgislac at January 17, 2004 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Yes there are still some of us out here who actually believe in a private God, a united Country, and a fiscally responsible budget.

Yeah, but these sure aren't your father's Republicans.

Posted by: Thumb at January 17, 2004 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the assessment "intellectual integrity". There is such a huge difference between Bush as a president who decides on what he wants to do and then fabricates a cover story for it and what Clark would do in trying to find the right solution that was ethical and realistic.

Posted by: Rob at January 17, 2004 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

It seems a popular position these days to critique those that fence straddle or have a nuanced opinion on an issue.

This is one particular issue where fence straddling and nuance would have been a welcome virtue.

"Certainty" is a highly dubious quality.

Posted by: Waffle at January 17, 2004 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

The conservative strategy should be clear here. The point of all us this is to paint Clark as a untrustworthy political opportunist who lacks core beliefs and will say whatever he thinks might aid his pursuit of power. (See Kaus and Sullivan on this.) This is in line with conservative strategizing since 2000. Their policies, when laid out honestly, are wildly unpopular. So every election now has to be about the slightly untrustworthy character of their opponents. The best part of all this is that the raw material for their definition of what counts as a trustworthy character all comes from Bush's rather unremarkable biography. That's why the greatest sin -- one that unites Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Clark and all democrats in light of the Wellstone funeral -- is to have any kind of political ambition. The contrast is with Bush, who although ruthless on the campaign trail, has never worked hard for anything.

Posted by: PJS at January 17, 2004 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

Someone is shocked to learn that these Bush Republicans are using lies, smears and character assassination as a tactic? Tell it to McCain and Cleland!

We had an immediate national emergency - Al Queda - an enemy that can not be deterred, had just attacked us and was getting ready to attack us again. In the middle of THAT conflict Bush took us to war with someone ELSE, a country that WAS deterred - already handled. And he used this to win an election - forcing the war vote to occur DURING the 2002 election cycle and USING it as an election issue!

This is the greatest betrayal of our military men and women in our country's history. We do NOT send them out to risk their lives unles there is an URGENT need. We certainly do not use their lives, and the lives of the 3000 who died on 9/11 as a political tool, and the Republicans are curently doing. Just yesterday I heard one of them say on some cable show "Republicans are better than Democrats in the war on terror." If that is not using them as a political tool, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Dave Johnson at January 17, 2004 01:31 PM | PERMALINK

The problem Clark has is that he says things that make it appear as if he doesn't really get the seriousness of the WOT. When he tells the Europeans that they will en effect have a say in our foreign and defence policy, he appears to be willing to make multilaterlism an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.
He may not have meant it that way, but Clark will have to labor heavily to get rid of the impression that he is more interested in preserving multilateral alliances than in acting in a way that may fracture the alliances.
This perception will weigh heavily against him, and will almost certainly doom him to electoral defeat.
Dean has his own set of perceptions to overcome before he can be talked of seriously as a person who can will a majority in the electoral college.
Face it, the Dems are heading to a historic defeat because of the perception that they are weak on the WOT. They haven't done much in this primary season to alter that perception, perhaps because the target audience during the primaries is more interested in prescription drug prices than national security. Once the general election begins, some of these stances that the eventual winner will have taken will give the Republicans a great deal of ammunition to perpetuate the perception that a Democratic candidate doesn't get the seriousness of the WOT.

(for you Clark lovers out there --- saying that under a Clark presidency there would be no more 9/11s is so obviuosly foolish that one can only think that he doesn't get it).

Good luck to you, though.

Posted by: fw at January 17, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

FW, so far Bush is the only presidential candidate who has proved he isn't serious about the war on terrorism - neither he nor his administration. Accusations of "not being serious" can be tossed around at the Democrats, and doubtless will be, but Bush & Co are the ones who decided to divert vast resources from fighting terrorism to illegally invading Iraq, and who lied to US Congress, the US public, and the UN, about why they wanted to do it. That's proof that Bush isn't serious about the war on terrorism: merely opportunistic.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at January 17, 2004 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

Did GWB actually say at one point that "I don't do nuances"? We know he doesn't, few right-wingers can live with ambivalence. But does anyone remember him actually saying it -- and our kowtowing press accepting it as a sage approach to live and governance?

Posted by: Ares Akritas at January 17, 2004 02:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac --

"illiegally invading Iraq" : how was it illegal? It seems to me that UN Resolution 1441 authorized it as did the US Congressional resolution of October 2002. You may not have supported the invasion, but it is hard to claim that it was illegal.

"lied to US Congress" : please provide examples

"lied to US public" : please provide examples

"lied to UN" : please provide examples

"lied about why they wanted to do it" : please offer proof that they lied. It is very hard to say someone lied about their motives unless you are either a mind-reader, were in the room with them when they said that their motives were inconsistent with what they said, or have other kind of proof.

Good luck to you, though.

Posted by: fw at January 17, 2004 02:49 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Clark is very consistent.
I watched his performance as CNN's military analyst during the Iraq war. I knew only about his military background and I did not for one moment see him as a political figure.

And he was consistently WRONG on just about every military issue discussed, particularly issues dealing with how the war was likely to go.
My wife and I were astonished AT THE TIME at how someone with his military experience could predict things so poorly.

Posted by: melk at January 17, 2004 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

If you read the original transcript in its entirety, Richard Perle himself concludes that Clark's testimony clearly indicates that he (Clark) is against a unilateral war and therefore a dangerously weak-kneed multilateralist.

Posted by: djs at January 17, 2004 04:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wesley Clark's words have to be twisted or reordered to avoid the clear fact that he backed an invasion only under the auspices of some international body such as NATO or the UN, and only after diplomacy clearly failed. Does anyone remember that UN WMD inspectors had to get out of Iraq to avoid being bombed by the allies? I see the exuberant glee of the right wing after an invasion which proved their working hypothesis wrong. Think about this: There have been 500 American deaths and a reported 9000 medical evacuations. What if there had been WND caches and we had 30 or 40 thousand casualties from WMDs that could have been negotiated away or rusted in their cannisters? How sweet would that "success" be...vast numbers of dead and maimed plus a quagmire?
The point is that there were prudent reasons not to rush to invade even we had absolute proof that Saddam had WMDs.

Posted by: Joe Budd at January 17, 2004 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

fw —

You may not have supported the invasion, but it is hard to claim that it was illegal.

Talk to Mr. Perle. Here he quite candidly admits that the invasion violated international law.

As for the lies — how do you explain the complete absence of the WMDs? Either the intelligence was bad (which Bush denies) or it was a deliberate deception. (I lean more toward deliberate deception, considering that there was no rush to secure any of the suspect sites.)

Oh, the war wasn't about WMDs; it was about liberating Iraq? Then perhaps you can explain why the liberation had to happen now. "Gassing his own people," "mass graves," "rape rooms" — we knew about all that almost 15 years ago when the slaughter was at its height, and we let it happen. If those outrages didn't warrant an invasion then, why do they justify one now?

Well, 9/11 hadn't happened then! True, but despite all the clever rhetorical linkages that might lead you to believe otherwise, there's no evidence that Iraq had anything at all to do with 9/11. Bush has said so, Powell has said so. No 9/11 link, no WMDs — where's the threat to the U.S.?

Okay, so the war was really about remaking the Middle East into a garden of democracy, starting with Iraq. Then why did we go over there with absolutely no plan for post-war occupation and transition? "They'll love us! Flowers and candy, dude!" — that's not a plan, but apparently that's all anyone bothered to come up with.

Every reason the Bush administration put forth for invading Iraq has now been proven to be either insincere, exaggerated, or wholly specious. If they weren't lying, then what do you call it?

Posted by: nina at January 17, 2004 04:55 PM | PERMALINK

>"illiegally invading Iraq" : how was it illegal?

Perle has admitted it was illegal.

And the legal opinion given by Lord Goldsmith the UK Attorney General to the Government totally relies on the existence of WMD in Iraq as the cause for the war. As we now know for sure, there were no WMD in Iraq at the time of, and for years prior to, the invasion.

Posted by: grytpype at January 17, 2004 05:03 PM | PERMALINK

>please provide examples

You can do this yourself, but you choose not to see the truth.

Posted by: grytpype at January 17, 2004 05:04 PM | PERMALINK

Righties get mad (correctly IMO), about Dean saying "I suppose it's a good thing" when Saddam fell. They say that proves how far left the DEms have gone. But they also get mad about Clark celebrating Saddam's fall while admtting that it's far too early to declare victory. It's as if nothing a Dem says will ever satisfy them or something.

Posted by: sym at January 17, 2004 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

>>> I am however surprised that his views on these matters would appeal to the activist part of the Democratic Party.

I don't see why. I consider myself a screaming lib, and I've liked General Clark from the git-go. I have confidence in his inclination and ability to think things over and choose carefully -- and to continue to monitor events and take in data even after a decision has been made and a plan put into effect.

Something that idiot in the White House apparently knows nothing about.

Posted by: Lynn Dee at January 17, 2004 05:28 PM | PERMALINK

What Lynn Dee said.

Is "activist" supposed to be a synonym for "latte-sipping, Birkenstock-wearing pacifist"? There are many of us liberals who have absolutely no problem with the use of military force, but who are disgusted with the way the Bush administration rolled the country into THIS particular war.

After a long, weary season of "moral clarity" and "with-us-or-against-us-ism", a little intellectual integrity and adult complexity comes as welcome as a cool drink on a hot day.

Posted by: Dave L at January 17, 2004 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

These attacks on Clark are absurd, but instructive, and a great way to point out to the media just how atrocious their coverage really is.

We should do it all the way to the finish. By the time the election's done, there will have been some big changes, or disastrous hits on brand value for the mainstream media in favor of nontraditional sources.

Posted by: freelixir at January 17, 2004 05:49 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, we force them to report news in as good an objective way as possible, which is their current brand and supposed mission, or we force them to admit and/or be viewed as entertainment, and not news.

Posted by: freelixir at January 17, 2004 05:50 PM | PERMALINK

FW: "illiegally invading Iraq" : how was it illegal? It seems to me that UN Resolution 1441 authorized it as did the US Congressional resolution of October 2002. You may not have supported the invasion, but it is hard to claim that it was illegal.

No, not hard at all. UN Res. 1441 did not authorize invasion. Read the UN Charter, which is, incidentally, ratified by the US and therefore legally a part of US law, binding on the President. It was up to the Security Council to decide if Iraq's cooperation with the UN inspectors and disarmament justified invasion or not. Up until 1998, when the inspection teams were withdrawn from Iraq at the request of the US and the UK, Iraqi cooperation clearly did not justify invasion. When the inspectors re-entered Iraq about a year ago, Bush & Co permitted them just 4 months, with a continual push on Saddam Hussein, moving the goalposts, insisting that Saddam Hussein prove a negative. As we have discovered post-invasion, not only were there no WMD to be found, the evidence on which Bush and Blair made their dramatic claims was shaky at best: false at worst. The only legal justification for the invasion of Iraq, under the UN charter was that Iraq represented an imminent threat to the US and the UK and that invasion therefore constituted self-defense. As it appears that Bush & Co knew Iraq was no threat to the US, and seems likely that Blair knew Iraq was no threat to the UK, they knew that invading Iraq was not self-defense, but an aggressive attack. This is illegal under the UN Charter: it cannot be justified by vague claims under a past resolution from the UNSC.

"lied to US Congress" : please provide examples
"lied to US public" : please provide examples

Let's just run through the 2003 SOTU, shall we? Which I assume you'd agree is addressed both to Congress and to the US people. In fact, let's just go for one section.

Bush claimed: [Hussein] pursued chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while inspectors were in his country. - lie.

Bush claimed: Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons: not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities. - lie

Bush claimed: Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations and for the opinion of the world. - lie.

Bush claimed: It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened. - lie.

Bush claimed: The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. - lie.

Bush claimed: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. - Technically not a lie, like when my nephew says "I never took the chocolate from your room!" he's technically not lying, since his sister took the chocolate from my room while he watched and then they shared the chcolate. But a lie for practical intents and purposes, since this claim was based on the Niger yellowcake documents, which had been proved to be false and forged months earlier.

Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. - lie.

From intelligence sources, we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. - lie.

Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. - lie.

Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida. - lie.

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured. - True, but Bush omitted to mention that this happened under Reagan's administration and his father's administration, and when the villages were Iranian, with full US approval and support.

If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. - lie: Bush had no intention of waiting for Saddam Hussein to fully disarm, nor was he notably interested in the peace of the world, nor could he lead a coalition to "disarm" Hussein when, as he already knew, Saddam Hussein was disarmed and harmless to the US people.

"lied to UN" : please provide examples


Bush claimed: In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge. - lie.

Bush claimed: Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons. - lie.

Bush claimed: United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons. - lie.

Bush claimed: Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. - lie.

Bush claimed: In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading, and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely - lie.

Bush claimed: The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq. - lie.

please offer proof that they lied. It is very hard to say someone lied about their motives unless you are either a mind-reader, were in the room with them when they said that their motives were inconsistent with what they said, or have other kind of proof.

FW, I'm not a mind-reader, and I've never been in the same room with Bush or Blair. SO I've been fairly cautious: only where Bush made clear statements that we now know he must have known were not true at the time he made them (as for example, the claims about aluminium tubes and uranium from Niger, which were disproved long before both speeches cited) have I said he lied.

But, yes, FW: Bush lied. Over and over and over again. To the US Congress, to the US public, and to the UN.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at January 17, 2004 06:07 PM | PERMALINK

I probably watched and read as much war coverage as any human since I have been unemployed for over a year and I will say Wesley Clark was always consistent. I think deep down he wanted Sadaam gone, but his point was always clear, that only with the use of a broad coalition was this an obtainable goal. Even though I agree with Howard Deans point on the war I'm afraid it is time to move on. The Southern United states has become close to civil war times, and the white male of the South sees any Northern Democrat as somebody against their way of life. It's kind of ironic when you think that Lincoln was a Republican. How they have been so brainwashed by a Repulican party who cares of nothing but pushing forth the agenda of the rich and corporations, is beyond me, but it is true. Clark is the one with the best chance to beat the evil one Cheney, and the stupid, ignorant, and arrogant one Bush. Clark a true military man from the South with actual honesy, integrity, and intelligence is the ticket to getting these bastards out of office.

Posted by: Johnny Jason at January 17, 2004 06:11 PM | PERMALINK

The thing with Clark's Congressional testimony is that he made it a year before he got into the presidential race, and therefore anyone worth their salt who might want to criticize him on the campaign trail (i.e., the Republicans and the other Dems) would have already gone through that testimony, plus his other public statements on Iraq, with a fine tooth comb looking for inconsistencies. The Republicans made some other stuff up right when he got into the race, like the supposed call from the White House on 9/11, the calls to Karl Rove, etc., but almost nobody brought up his Iraq testimony. Then Matt freakin' Drudge comes along and finds a creative way to cut and paste Clark's testimony in a misleading way--and this is supposed to be a revelation? Obviously the "Clark is in denial mode after being accused of inconsistency" stories are what they want to get out of this, but it's blatantly obvious that anything actually damning in Clark's Congressional testimony would have already come out by now as a result of basic oppo research. It's just ridiculous, but that's how some people are playing the game these days.

Posted by: Haggai at January 17, 2004 06:33 PM | PERMALINK

situational democrat

Posted by: Perfumed Prince at January 17, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

It’s not just that Clark's not inconsistent praising the President. What no points out about the London Times editorial is that after some praise, Clark then goes on to go point by point, discussing every problem we would face during the occupation that the Bush Administration failed to plan for:

There would be resistance: “The regime’s last defenders may fade away, but likely not without a fight”

“Then there’s the matter of returning order and security”

There aren’t enough troops: “There are scant few American and British forces to maintain order, resolve disputes and prevent the kind of revenge killings that always mark the fall of autocratic regimes”

We're paying a price for acting unilaterally: “As for the diplomacy, the best that can be said is that strong convictions often carry a high price. Despite the virtually tireless energy of their Foreign Offices, Britain and the US have probably never been so isolated in recent times. Diplomacy got us into this campaign but didn’t pull together the kind of unity of purpose that marked the first Gulf War.”

We have yet to find WMD: “Is this victory? Certainly the soldiers and generals can claim success. And surely, for the Iraqis there is a new-found sense of freedom. But remember, this was all about weapons of mass destruction. They haven’t yet been found.”

We should be focusing on the terrorists: “Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and others will strive to mobilize their recruiting to offset the Arab defeat in Baghdad. Whether they will succeed depends partly on whether what seems to be an intense surge of joy travels uncontaminated elsewhere in the Arab world. And it also depends on the dexterity of the occupation effort. This could emerge as a lasting humiliation of Iraq or a bridge of understanding between Islam and the West.”

Where is the inconsistency? Clark’s stand before Congress, on CNN and in the very editorial Kaus distorts in a Drudgean fashion has been unchanged. What’s more, Kaus (as one example) ignores the fact that Clark turned out to be right about everything he said – and the Bush administration didn’t see it coming. This just reads like a harsh critic who, once the decision had been made, gave his President some praise for his victory, then reminded him, politely, of what could go wrong if he didn’t act to avoid them. Unfortunately for us, Bush didn’t listen.

Let’s have those parades, Clark says, and Kaus condemns him for it. And after that victory, our soldiers deserved them. But how conveniently Kaus and Clark’s other detractors refuse to quote the next line, following his qualifying “but”: “don’t demobilize yet. There’s a lot yet to be done, and not only by the diplomats.”

I see why Clark’s detractors would. Their readers might mistakenly get the right impression.

Posted by: at January 17, 2004 11:22 PM | PERMALINK


you claim that UN SC res 1441 authorized invading Iraq. This is simply false. I think you should either quote a relevant passage from 1441 or admit that you are wrong. The closest 1441 came was a reminder that Iraq had been threatened with "seious consequences" in earlier resolutions.

Also the grounds for claiming that Iraq had not complied iwth 1441 is that Iraq had not surrendered gas and biological weapons. We now know why. They didn't have them. This is relevant to the justification for the war under international law. It is not enough that we (GWB and I) sincerely thought that Saddam Hussein was violating 1441 for the invasion to be legal.

I would suggest a better approach to responding to the claim that the invasion (which I opposed) was illegal. Why not just say "who cares about internatinoal law?". I care about international law, for one, but I am ashamed to admit it.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann at January 18, 2004 03:59 AM | PERMALINK

The only reason I can imagine anyone would be 'ashamed' to admit they 'care about international law' would be that someone told them it was shameful to do so. This is sad. The rest of the world are discussing and enlarging their worldview while the US is implementing its own by force.

Posted by: captinyoass at January 18, 2004 05:05 AM | PERMALINK

*The Legality of the War*

First of all, I fail to see how the UN can't be considered a credible international legal authority when it is structurally incapable of enforcing its own resolutions. No war has yet been waged under United Nation military jurisdiction. As a law-enforcing body, it is utterly useless.

Secondly, if one were to actually believe that the UN was a credible legal authority and wanted to argue on those terms, then there were indeed solid legal grounds for the military action taken against Iraq. After Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, the UN passed resolution 678, under Chapter 7 of the charter, calling for military action against Saddam. The UN does not possess a standing army of its own, so it requested and authorized a coalition of the willing, led by the U.S., to conduct the military effort and deal with Saddam as the U.S. saw fit. The UN did not determine the tactics, strategy and aims of the war - the U.S. did. When the U.S. expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Saddam accepted a ceasefire offered by the U.S. that suspended, but did not end hostilities. There was no peace treaty signed in 1991 declaring that peace and security was restored and the conflict had officially ended. The formal terms of the ceasefire were laid out in resolution 687. For the ceasefire to remain in effect, Saddam was required to completely and unconditionally fulfill and maintain those terms. It was abundantly clear that Saddam violated and breached the terms of the ceasefire, as well as subsequent resolutions, innumerable times; none more obvious then as his refusal to allow inspectors back into Iraq from 1998-2002. Therefore, the U.S. could have lawfully resumed the military effort as if hostilities had never ceased in 1991. The contrary cannot be logically argued.

In 2002, resolution 1441 was passed. It was not necessary to enact this resolution for taking military action against Saddam because prior resolutions and violations of the ceasefire already supported military action. 1441 simply stated that Iraq continued to be in violation of the ceasefire and previous UN resolutions, and offered Saddam a "final opportunity" to completely, accurately, and finally account for all his WMD and forsake trying to acquire them forever (among other things). It demanded nothing less than full compliance and a failure to do so would further constitute a breach on Saddam’s part. It unequivocally reaffirmed the legal basis for military action that had always been in effect.

Thirdly, if anyone persists that the military effort taken by the coalition against Saddam was illegal, immoral, and unjust then take note: If you believe the military effort was illegal and unjust, then it would only make sense that you would find what resulted from it to be wrong and unjust. And it would only make sense that you would be for seeing the law upheld and making things "right". This would mean you should be for having the members of the governments behind the war being arrested and tried for war crimes. You should be for coalition troops pulling out of Iraq. You should be for having Saddam and the rest of his Bathist cohorts in coalition custody being set free and put back into power - after all, they too would be innocent victims of the war you find to be illegal and unjust. This way, international law and order would be restored, and justice done.

So, if you believe military action was illegal, then you should be for upholding the law and seeing Saddam and his regime back in power. You do want him back into power, don't you?

*Bush Lied About WMD*

For those who charge that Bush lied before the war about Saddam being in the possession of, and was trying to acquire WMD, then he's not alone.

The following people also lied:

"None of us knows why Saddam decided to test us now. But if the history of the last six years has taught us anything, it is that Saddam Hussein does not understand diplomacy, he only understands power, and when he brandishes power in a manner that threatens our interests or violates internationally accepted standards of behavior, we must be prepared to respond--and with force if necessary." Such force might well be used unilaterally: "The United States under President Bush and then President Clinton, led these earlier efforts to contain Saddam. Whereas some of our allies in the region are constrained from acting on this occasion, we are not." -- Senator John Kerry, September, 1996

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998

"This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." -- From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others

"Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright, 1998

"Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." -- Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd, October 2002

"What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." -- Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002

"Already we know for a fact that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs are being largely blocked, even frozen." -- French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, January 2003

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." -- Tom Daschle in 1998

"Saddam Hussein's regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal." -- John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

"I share the administration's goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction." -- Dick Gephardt in September of 2002

"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." -- Bob Graham, December 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -- Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002

"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." -- Carl Levin, Sept 19, 2002

"Over the years, Iraq has worked to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. During 1991 - 1994, despite Iraq's denials, U.N. inspectors discovered and dismantled a large network of nuclear facilities that Iraq was using to develop nuclear weapons. Various reports indicate that Iraq is still actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability. There is no reason to think otherwise. Beyond nuclear weapons, Iraq has actively pursued biological and chemical weapons.U.N. inspectors have said that Iraq's claims about biological weapons is neither credible nor verifiable. In 1986, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, and later, against its own Kurdish population. While weapons inspections have been successful in the past, there have been no inspections since the end of 1998. There can be no doubt that Iraq has continued to pursue its goal of obtaining weapons of mass destruction." -- Patty Murray, October 9, 2002

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." -- Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources -- something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

"Saddam’s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq’s enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Administration’s policy towards Iraq, I don’t think there can be any question about Saddam’s conduct. He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do. He lies and cheats; he snubs the mandate and authority of international weapons inspectors; and he games the system to keep buying time against enforcement of the just and legitimate demands of the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States and our allies. Those are simply the facts." --Henry Waxman, Oct 10, 2002

If all these people were lying, then that would mean they would of had to have known the truth about Saddam's WMD, but told otherwise. A lie, after all, is when you know the truth, but say something different from it. And those who say Bush lied must also know this truth. So then tell us, what did happen to Saddam's WMD? When did Saddam destroy them? Where were they destroyed? By whom? Why did Saddam sacrifice tens of billions of dollars of oil revenue losses, caused by sanctions, over nothing? Why was he blocking and obstructing the UN inspectors for 12 years over nothing? Why did he put his life, his family’s lives, and his regime at risk over nothing?

So what was the truth about Saddam’s involvement with WMD?

Posted by: Duffman at January 18, 2004 01:42 PM | PERMALINK

And Calpundit, with all your spinning how do you square any of that with this statement:

> Asked if it was criminal to mislead the nation in going to war, Clark told reporters, "I think that's a question Congress needs to ask. I think this Congress needs to investigate precisely" how the United States wound up in a war "that wasn't connected to the threat of al Qaeda."

As i said over at Freespeech:

> How did the United States wind up in a war with Iraq?

> Well, gee Wesley maybe it is because people like you assured us there was a connection to al Qaeda.

> Maybe its because people like you told Congress that Saddam “retain[s] chemical and biological weapons[.]”

> Maybe its because people like you told Congress that Saddam might have nuclear weapons “in a year or two[.]”

> Maybe its because people like you told Congress that even if Saddam had no connections to al Qaeda, “Saddam Hussein is a threat.”

> Maybe its because people like you told Congress that “[t]he problem of Iraq is not a problem that can be postponed indefinitely.”

> The fact is that the case you, Wesley Clark, made before Congress was essentially identical to the case Bush made. For you to even suggest now that Bush committed a criminal act is the height of hypocrisy.

> Yeah, we’re getting a real good picture at your “integrity and character.”

No one has even tried to defend THAT statement by Clark.

You can read the orginal version of that text, here: With links, etc. to the original story.

Posted by: A.W. at January 18, 2004 02:32 PM | PERMALINK

I would suggest that all you presented is evidence that the Democrats are spineless weasels, floating like leaves on the political tide; not that Saddam had - or was threatening us with - WMD.

What we we need to know is upon what what substance did those quoted in your post make those statements.

I'll bet none.

Posted by: avedis at January 18, 2004 07:29 PM | PERMALINK

Since the practice of burying points under intense verbiage seems to be in play...

These attacks on Clark are absurd, but instructive, and a great way to point out to the media just how atrocious their coverage really is.

We should do it all the way to the finish. By the time the election's done, there will have been some big changes, or disastrous hits on brand value for the mainstream media in favor of nontraditional sources.

In other words, we force them to report news in as good an objective way as possible, which is their current brand and supposed mission, or we force them to admit and/or be viewed as entertainment, and not news.

Posted by: freelixir at January 19, 2004 01:15 AM | PERMALINK


Well, Clark was not talking to congress as just some guy with an opinion. He was talking as a man who had information on the subject.

Clinton said it, too. Both Clintons.

So did every major intel service in the west.

so did the UN.

Which doesn't prove that the WMDs were there, although since all we got is hearsay on the evidence, that is pretty powerful evidence on the subject.

But more importantly it makes it extremely unlikely that Bush lied.

So for Clark to be saying now we were misled into war, when he was coming to congress, speaking from information and saying the same kinds of things, it is f---ing hypocrisy.

Posted by: A.W. at January 19, 2004 03:36 AM | PERMALINK

Clark THEN (2002-03) looks like a pretty good guy. His caveats about the war are dead on, and he gives credit where credit is due. If he was campaigning on that speech, I'd be tempted to vote for him.

My impression of Clark NOW is that he wants the president impeached, thinks that we should never have gone to war becuase it prevented us from catching Bin Laden, and hate hate hates! GW.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding Clark now, but he seems a lot different from Clark then.

Posted by: J_Mann at January 19, 2004 06:49 AM | PERMALINK

A.W. —

Two points:

Re whether Bush's pre-war rhetoric was... well, let's call it deceptive: You might want to read this article in today's WaPo, headlined "Arms Issue Seen as Hurting U.S. Credibility Abroad." Here's a quote:

A lengthy study issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also concluded the administration shifted the intelligence consensus on Iraq's weapons in 2002 as officials prepared for war, making it appear more imminent and threatening than was warranted by the evidence.

The report further said that the administration "systematically misrepresented the threat" posed by Iraq, often on purpose, in four ways: one, treating nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as a single threat, although each posed different dangers and evidence was particularly thin on Iraq's nuclear and chemical programs; two, insisting without evidence that Hussein would give his weapons to terrorists; three, often dropping caveats and uncertainties contained in the intelligence assessments when making public statements; and four, misrepresenting inspectors' findings so that minor threats were depicted as emergencies.

Re your list: Clearly quite a few people thought it was possible or even likely that Hussein had chemical or biological weapons. You'll notice that Bush is the only one of those people who invaded Iraq. By now, we know that Bush's Iraq intel wasn't materially different from that available to Clinton. So how did two men look at the same information and make such radically different decisions?

To anticipate your objections:

• According to both Bush and Powell, there's no evidence of any Iraqi connection to 9/11; as far as I know, no one's found any evidence of connections to any terrorist group that threatens the U.S.

• We knew about the mass graves, the rape rooms, etc., when the carnage was at its worst, and we did nothing. If these outrages didn't warrant an invasion then, how do they justify one now?

• If we're supposed to be "remaking the Middle East" into a garden of democracy, starting with Iraq, why did we invade with absolutely no post-war plan? "They'll love us!" — that's not a plan.

I can't figure out why Iraq was supposed to be such a threat. Or why we had to invade, and invade now. Perhaps you can explain.

Posted by: nina at January 19, 2004 08:17 AM | PERMALINK

Duffman, can't you at least do you own research rather than borrowing from any anti-Democrat inboxer spam?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at January 19, 2004 09:44 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: penis enlargement at August 8, 2004 09:10 AM | PERMALINK
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