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Wesley Clark on Homeland Security

NATO General; Democratic Candidate for President


We won Cold War by working, not by preventive war

I remembered vaguely the discussions about our needing to go to war with the Soviet Union before they could create an H-bomb like ours. But instead of panicking, America went to work. Yes, we lived with the fact that missiles were aimed at our cities, and that nuclear annihilation was possible. But we didn’t give in to our fears. New legislation was passed promoting the study of science and technology, and American industry and our educational systems were updated to meet the challenge.

Soon, the US did launch its own satellites. And America wasn’t invaded. In fact, less than 40 years later, the Soviet Union itself collapsed, without our ever firing a shot against them.

For so many of us who lived through that time, international challenges have to be answered, but with confidence that we can prevail. In the 1950s, America didn’t take counsel of its fears and wage preventive war, even though some recommended it. We should draw on our courage and creativity and not give in to fear

Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 31 Sep 4, 2007

Turn over Guantanamo to NATO & end secret detentions

The detention facility at Guantanamo should be turned over to a respected international organization, preferably NATO, and opened up to full transparency. Secret detentions of suspected terrorists must end, along with any mistreatment of prisoners. We cannot gain legitimacy unless our efforts to combat terrorists are aligned with the dictates of international law, and without gaining legitimacy, we cannot win our long term effort to defeat international terrorists.

The key to our success is to progressively isolate these very hard-core, irredeemable terrorists--most importantly, cut them off from new recruits, by avoiding the kind of actions that drive alienated, angry Muslim youth into their camp. Deprived of fresh recruits, these bands of fanatics will soon be deprived of their freedom of action, and ultimately their survival.

Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p.251-252 Sep 4, 2007

Realized as Cadet that purpose of being a soldier is to kill

[As a cadet in officer training, I realized] this wasn’t like high school calculus class, and I certainly hadn’t joined the Peace Corps. No, this business of this profession really was to kill enemy soldiers. But only at that moment [during bayonet drills] did the full truth begin to dawn on me... “The spirit of the bayonet is to kill!” [as the drill sergeant repeated]. And the bayonet was the symbol of the profession I was entering. But was that what I really wanted? Could I actually kill someone? I knew, of course, that in war people were killed. But could I kill someone?...the underlying theme of West Point, so often and easily unrecognized by outsiders, is killing enemy soldiers. Was that really what I wanted? Upon reflection, no. But would I do it? Yes. Yes, and they would do it to me.
Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 48-49 Sep 4, 2007

Served in Vietnam as Divisional Briefing Officer

[As a young officer in Vietnam], I became the division’s briefing officer. Every afternoon at 5:00 p.m. I had to succinctly summarize that day’s operations for the commanding general and other members of the division staff.

The job was challenging and interesting. I could go anywhere, ask just about anything, and report back in with information. It was a great education in how a 17,000 man division operated in combat. I watched the division commander chew out a battalion commander for driving his vehicles across a rice paddy and ruining the crop. I heard the concern in commanders’ voices as they sough air and artillery support in battle or offered battle analyses and suggested new operations. I became more aware every day of the anxieties that burden high level commanders in war. But mostly I had to prepare the daily command briefing. And this was more difficult than it might appear....The main problem was that the information that came in was often incomplete or inaccurate or both.

Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 87 Sep 4, 2007

Repeal provisions of Patriot Act that go too far

General Clark believes our war on terror will be most effective if it is multilateral; we must have the support and engagement of our allies if we are to succeed. Moreover, General Clark does not believe that we can win a war on terror if we give up the essence of who we are as Americans. That’s why he thinks that Congress should fully review the so-called USA PATRIOT Act--and repeal the provisions that go too far.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Nov 1, 2004

The safety of our country requires honest government

Anyone who tells you that one political party has a monopoly on the best defense of our nation is committing a fraud on the American people. Franklin Roosevelt said: “Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth.”

This hall, this Democratic Party are filled with veterans who have served under the American flag. And this is our flag. We fought for that flag. We’ve seen brave men & women buried under that flag. That flag is ours, and nobody, nobody will take it away from us.

But the truth is this The safety of our country demands urgent and innovative measures to strengthen our armed forces. The safety of our country demands credible intelligence. The safety of our country demands cooperation with our allies. The safety of our country demands making more friends and fewer enemies. The safety of our country demands an end to the doctrinaire, ineffective policies that currently grip Washington. Enough is enough. A safe America, a just America, that’s what we want, that’s what we need.

Source: Speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 30, 2004

Threat of terrorism has been recognized since 1996

Q: Was there an inadequate response to terrorism during Clinton’s term?

A: We always recognized that there was a threat of terrorism. We began in 1996, with Khobar Towers, to really work on the defensive, the anti-terrorism measures. As the commander in Europe, we really strengthened our security. And that was my focus, the security of the military forces over there. In 1998, when Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa against the US, there should have been measures to go and get Osama bin Laden.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Supports School of the Americas

Wesley Clark is a big booster of the controversial “School of the Americas”-which critics charge has history of graduating Latin American soldiers accused of rape, murder and torture. Clark fought for years to keep the school at Fort Benning, Ga., open, even testifying on its behalf in Congress, despite graduates like imprisoned Panamanian ex-strongman Manuel Noriega.

Clark’s backing of the school-whose curriculum once included teaching torture, execution, kidnapping & blackmail-puts him at odds with many Democrats and groups like Amnesty International, who want the school closed.In response to complaints, the Pentagon “closed” the school in 2000, but reopened it in 2001 under a new name.

Clark isn’t embarrassed about ties to the military installation-his campaign website features a commencement speech he delivered there a few years ago. “There is nothing going on in these institutions that you in the US Congress wouldn’t be extraordinarily proud of,” Clark once testified to Congress.

Source: Vincent Morris, New York Post Dec 18, 2003

Need to deal with the Russian loose nukes

Q: How do you feel about Congress not funding the act that was designed to buy and decommission the Russian nuclear weapons?

A: This is a significant national security problem. We’ve been talking about loose nukes in this country for more than a decade. But we’ve still got over 20,000 Russian tactical nuclear weapons, including some suitcase nukes, suitcase A bombs that were atomic demolition munitions that are inadequately guarded. I think we need to be putting a real sense of urgency on this.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH Dec 9, 2003

Right leadership can pull out the US troops much faster

Q: Does anyone have a time frame for when the US troops can be pulled out?

A: With a new administration, with the right leadership, we can reduce that time dramatically, we can put an Iraqi government in charge in the next week or two, if we use indirect democracy, while we’re waiting for the plebiscite. But we cannot rush the stand-up of an Iraqi security force and pull our people out prematurely. This administration can’t do it. We need new leadership in Washington. That’s why I’m running.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH Dec 9, 2003

Replace Dont-Ask-Dont-Tell with British policy

I believe the military needs to rethink the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I would ask the military to implement a policy that ensures that everyone who wants to serve their country is permitted to do so with dignity. I would ask the military to look at the British policy, which prohibits sexual misconduct by heterosexuals and homosexuals. I would submit the new policy to Congress to replace the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
Source: Campaign website, Clark04.com Nov 20, 2003

Armed forces are better with a volunteer force

Q: Is it time to reinstate the draft?

A: America’s armed forces need people who want to be there. And I would not reinstate the draft. We believe that the armed forces are better with a volunteer force. And what this country has to understand is that when it puts a foreign policy in place that the American people don’t support, the answer for that is not to reinstitute the draft, but to change the foreign policy, and that’s where we’re headed with Iraq.

Source: CNN “Rock The Vote” Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Focus on technology R&D other than missile defense

Q: What is your position on missile defense? Do we need to keep up the research and development ?

A: We need a national goals process which helps us define where to place our R and D efforts. We should be using grants and tax expenditures to insure that we retain or gain leadership in a broad range of technologies. What if we could rival the value of oil exports from the mid east with our own energy tech exports?

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 5, 2003

Missile defense is an example of unilateralism

Coming to power in a disputed election, the Bush administration acted unambiguously to put a more unilateralist, balance-of-power stamp on US foreign policy. The US withdrew from international efforts to address global warming, the Kyoto Treaty. The administration made clear that it would proceed with national missile defense regardless of the US-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The South-Korea-North Korea dialogue was essentially rejected. Even before 9/11 it was clear that US foreign policy had changed tack.

Responding to the events of 9/11, the Bush administration abandoned its “more humble foreign policy.” Overnight, US foreign policy became not only unilateralist but moralistic, intensely patriotic, and assertive, intimating the New American Empire.

The new approach has produced an outburst of worldwide anti-American sentiment. Opinion polls in many nations showed substantial numbers who thought that “bin Laden was more likely to do the right thing than Bush.”

Source: Winning Modern Wars, by Wesley Clark, p.183-185 Oct 9, 2003

Consider cutting defense spending

Clark would consider cutting defense spending if elected, he said. “We are trapped in a jobless economy and an endless occupation” of Iraq, Clark told a campaign rally crowd.
Source: Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, p. A5 Sep 19, 2003

Talk about gays in military, but don’t open the door

Q: Would you open the door for gays to enter the military if you were president of the United States?

CLARK: No. I’d tell the military to re-look at the policy and come back and we’d talk about it.

Source: CNN, Crossfire Aug 1, 2003

Be reluctant to use military force

America [must be] involved outside our borders. We just don’t have a compelling strategy on how to do it. I would suggest there are three ideas:
  1. We are an inclusive nation. We don’t draw lines. We’re a nation of immigrants. We’ve always been that way.
  2. We’ve always believed in international organizations.
  3. We’ve found many times in our experience that it’s best to use force only as a last resort. Yes, we’ve got to have the strongest military in the world, and we’ve got it now & we should do everything we can to protect it. And yes, the President should have the right, if this country is threatened to strike preemptively. But beyond that, we should be very reluctant to use force. It has incredible, difficult and unintended consequences, which we are once again beginning to see as we deal with the situation in Iraq.
And, I think if you take these 3 principles and put them together, and look at the world we live in, you can begin to craft a new vision that Americans can understand.
Source: Speech to the New Democratic Network Jun 17, 2003

Welcome gays into the military because they’re already there

On gays in the Military: “Essentially we’ve got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, always have had, always will have. And I think that, you know, we should welcome people that want to serve.”
Source: Meet The Press, reported on DraftWesleyClark.com Jun 15, 2003

Address European and Russian concerns about missile defense

To many Europeans the case for Missile Defense has simply not been made. Moreover, any discussion will meet counterarguments from Russia and the European left. A positive outcome to the “consultation” will require three essentials. First, a strong case must be made for the need for Missile Defense. It must include assumptions about the threat, discussions of technological capabilities, & consideration of the new shape of global strategic stability if missile defenses come into play Second, Europe’s defense and industrial needs must be taken into account in the eventual program. Europe must be protected, and European firms must receive technology and manufacturing contracts for the program as it proceeds. Conversely, however the European contribution to the program must be affordable. Third, the system must be “connectable” to other efforts elsewhere, to avoid creating the impression of drawing new lines in Europe.“
Source: Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Feb 27, 2001

Highest priority is quality of life for defense family

Our most precious resource is the [Department of Defense] family, made up of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coastguardsmen, civilian employees and their families. As Joint Vision 2010 affirms, ‘The judgment, creativity, and fortitude of our people will remain the key to success in future joint operations.’ Accordingly, [quality of life] is one of my highest priorities. It directly affects readiness, retention, military values, family life, morale, and mission accomplishment. My goal is to ensure our forces enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of the society they are pledged to defend and that of their Department of Defense counterparts stateside. As we have seen in [US European Command], joint basing and interaction between troops from all Services illuminate the differences among The Services’ quality of life standards, leading to morale problems and creating a potentially negative impact on readiness.
Source: Statement before the House National Security Committee Mar 5, 1998

Other candidates on Homeland Security: Wesley Clark on other issues:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
HHS:Tom Daschle
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOC:Judd Gregg
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DOC:Bill Richardson
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
Treas.:Tim Geithner

Former Bush Administration:
Pres.George W. Bush
V.P.Dick Cheney
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
Pres.Bill Clinton
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
V.P.Al Gore
Labor:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
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Page last updated: Feb 25, 2011