Here's my favorite exchange, right near the beginning:
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Not just noble but normal. And, because I, we'd had 34 years in the public sector, you know. And so, and, and my wife said,
"Now look," she said, " now you be very careful." She said, "Don't you get used by people politically. You, you got to keep on both sides of this." So, I though, 'Yeah, that's good advice. I'll call Condeleeza Rice. I've never met her.'
And of course, I was in the Ford administration. I knew Rumsfeld and Cheney and all those people, but this was 2000. They weren't in the picture then.
I said, 'I'll call, I'll call Condeleeza and ask her, you know, about things," and I called her. She said, "Oh, I'll come over and talk to you." So, she came over to talk to me and, and it was- It turned into a pretty one-sided conversation, in which she accused us of wrecking the relations with Russia, of being involved in a war in the Balkans we didn't have to be in, of having our troops mal-deployed.
And then she said, "There's no point in the United States doing peacekeeping." She said, "We've got the only soldiers who could fight, and that's our, what our soldiers need to be prepared to do, and we're going to move them where they're going to fight." Well-
Cen Uygur: That's a tremendous irony.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: By the time that was over, I was like, you know, 'Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.' And, you know, she got kind of, you know, her authority was being CHALLENGED by ME, just a retired 4-Star General, and she was, you know, the National Security DIRECTOR designate of the-, you know- she knew a lot, she thought. And, and so, we agreed we'd talk again, but we never did.
(laughter all around)
So, I couldn't support that vision of, of international affairs. So, I didn't want to get involved in politics, but I did speak out. And then I got on CNN and-
Ben Mankiewicz: So let me just- But let me understand it. So, your though objection to the Bush administration started significantly before the no-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Before they were ever elected.
Ben Mankiewicz: Before the nonsense started.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Yeah, before they were ever elected.
I mean, I said, 'These people are crazy. You know, they don't know what they're doing' They, they, they, they're coming in with an ideology instead of taking the facts and the circumstances and creating a strategy. They're coming in to impose something. But then you see, as I sort of unravelled this over time, after 9/11, and I begin to realize this over a period of years what had happened.
I remembered being in the Pentagon in 1991, when I was a One-Star General, I was commanding the National Training Center out of Fort Irwin, but I had to go back to DC for a set of classes and things as part of my General officer education. So I went by the Pentagon one afternoon, I think it was a Friday afternoon, and I saw General Colin Powell. And when I was down in his office, I asked his assistant could she call up and see if Paul Wolfowitz is here. Paul had come out to visit us at the NTC while we were training the National Guard before the war in Iraq, or, and Kuwait, and Gulf- you know, in the Gulf War. And he said if I ever get back to the Pentagon, come and see him. So, I thought, 'Well, I'll just, it's a Friday afternoon, I'll see if he's available.'
So you know, he said, "Come on up." So, a guy named Scooter Libby opened the door
and brought me in. I mean, I never heard of Scooter Libby. And I went in to see Paul Wolfowitz. He was the Undersecretary, the number three guy, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
I said, "Congratulations, Mr. Secretary, on the war in Iraq. It's a, you know, it went, it went real well. We're real proud of the troops." He said, "Well, thanks," he said, "but," he said, "not really." He said, "We should've gotten rid of Saddam." He said, "Some people say he still could be overthrown," he said, "But I, I, I doubt it." He said, "But we did learn one thing," he said, "we discovered that now, for the first time, we can use US military power, and the Soviets won't challenge us and act against us." And he said, "We've got a window of five years, ten years, maybe more to clean up this region before the next big superpower comes along, and we've got to do that." And this was the germ that became the Republican strategy eight years, nine years later.
Cen Uygur: Well yeah, that's-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: And that's, that's the whole rationale. It was to go in and clean up with military effect, to lick you-know-what, and you know, 'Go in there and shape 'em up!' Yeah. But the problem with it is that these are people that don't know about military forces. Military forces don't go in and CCRRRKK! shape thinks up. I mean, you know, military forces go in, you tiptoe in. You give them enormous responsibilities, and you ask them, 'Please don't break the china. You're authorized to do anything you have, but please don't do it unless you absolutely have to.' Because when you hurt people, when you go in and violate someone's home, knock in the door, throw the guy on the ground, put his hands behind his back, put your boot in his back, shove his wife into the other room, and the kids are screaming, that will never be forgotten, and they will hate you for that.
I want Al Gore to be elected President because he is simply the best qualified person on the planet to hold that position right now. If I can't have Al, I want Wes Clark, just like the last election. I like him even more than during 2004. He's doing the heavy lifting, supporting and promoting other candidates, fund raising, going to conferences, writing and speaking about security and international issues and generally doing his homework.
But read the whole thing. It is refreshing to listen to someone who lives in reality when it comes to international relations.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Young Turks is exactly the kind of talk show the left needs more of. If you haven't visited their site, here's the link. Lots of videos, great interviews, and fantastic energy. Even when you disagree or don't like the topic, it's worth watching/listening to.