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View Diary: SoS? How About an Incredible Man. Gen. Wesley Clark (35 comments)

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  •  I have always liked Wes (0+ / 0-)

    but I have a big personal caveat against the idea of him as SoS.

    My brother is career military, and like many in that category he has developed a mindset that expects those around him to follow his orders and accept his opinions and plans without question-- he's the commander. He gets exasperated and testy when dealing with civilians in the family when joint decisions or compromises are required.

    I wonder if a Supreme Commander would be comfortable with the kind of schmoozing and horse trading needed for successful diplomacy. It's a different skill set.

    "What everyone wants is a job and some hope."--RFK

    by For Dean in Dixie on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:49:55 AM PST

    •  That's what they do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      For Dean in Dixie, jreal
      I wonder if a Supreme Commander would be comfortable with the kind of schmoozing and horse trading needed for successful diplomacy. It's a different skill set.
      The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has the same status as a head of state and has to deal with all the other heads of state in making any decisions. That was what Clark had to do while running the Kosovo war.

      He also was the military negotiator for the Dayton Peace Accords.

      Then there is this:

      In August 1995, the general—three stars, working as J-5 for the Joint Chiefs—went to Bosnia as part of the negotiating team Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had put together to end the civil war that had resulted in the massacre of as many as eight thousand Muslim men and boys at the town of Srebrenica the month before. In Belgrade, Clark had met for the first time Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, who was sponsoring the Bosnian Serbs. Now the team had to travel to Sarajevo. Told that the airport in Sarajevo was too dangerous to fly into, the team decided to drive and asked Milosevic to guarantee its safety on a road held by Bosnian Serbs. Milosevic did not, and so the team wound up taking a fortified Humvee and an armored personnel carrier on a pitched, narrow, winding mountain road notoriously vulnerable to Serb machine-gun fire. Clark and Holbrooke went in the Humvee, the rest in the APC. In his book, the general describes what happened this way: "At the end of the first week we had a tragic accident on Mount Igman, near Sarajevo. [Three members of the team] were killed when the French armored personnel carrier in which they were riding broke through the shoulder of the road and tumbled several hundred meters down a steep hillside."

      It is not until one reads Holbrooke's book, To End a War, that one finds out that after the APC went off the road, Clark grabbed a rope, anchored it to a tree stump, and rappelled down the mountainside after it, despite the gunfire that the explosion of the APC set off, despite the warnings that the mountainside was heavily mined, despite the rain and the mud, and despite Holbrooke yelling that he couldn't go. It is not until one brings the incident up to the general that one finds out that the burning APC had turned into a kiln, and that Clark stayed with it and aided in the extraction of the bodies; it is not until one meets Wesley Clark that one understands the degree to which he held Milosevic accountable.

      After which he personally delivered the wedding ring of one of the victims to his widow.

      He also suspended his campaign to testify against  Milosevic.

      "The solution to terrorism is not going to be found in bullets. It's not going to be found in precision ordnance or targeted strikes. It's really going to be found in changing the conditions. It's going to be found in establishing a global safety net that starts with security and goes to economic development and political development and the kinds of modernization which let others enjoy the fruits of modernization that we as Americans enjoy."

      ~ Gen. Wesley Clark, October 17, 2001, Annual Lecture sponsored by the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy at Temple University.

      He's the real deal.

      White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

      by BOHICA on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:31:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good to know (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BOHICA, jreal

        Thanks for refreshing my memory. Clark's personal qualities, including his obvious intellectual heft and easy charm, do put him way above the typical Old Soldier.

        "What everyone wants is a job and some hope."--RFK

        by For Dean in Dixie on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:04:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  David Hackworth on Wes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jreal
          Hack on Wes from SFTT

          09-22-2003

          Hack's Target

          Reporting for Duty: Wesley Clark

          By David H. Hackworth            

          With Wesley Clark joining the Democratic presidential candidates, there are enough eager bodies pointed toward the White House to make up a rifle squad. This bunch of wannabes could make things increasingly hot for Dubya – as long as they don’t blow each other away with friendly fire.            

          Since Clark tossed his steel pot into the inferno, I've been constantly asked, “Hack, what do you think of the general?”            

          For the record, I never served with Clark. But after spending three hours interviewing the man for Maxim’s November issue, I’m impressed. He is insightful, he has his act together, he understands what makes national security tick – and he thinks on his feet somewhere around Mach 3. No big surprise, since he graduated first in his class from West Point, which puts him in the super-smart set with Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and Maxwell Taylor.          

          Clark was so brilliant, he was whisked off to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and didn’t get his boots into the Vietnam mud until well after his 1966 West Point class came close to achieving the academy record for the most Purple Hearts in any one war. When he finally got there, he took over a 1st Infantry Division rifle company and was badly wounded.            

          Lt. Gen. James Hollingsworth, one of our Army’s most distinguished war heroes, says: “Clark took a burst of AK fire, but didn’t stop fighting. He stayed on the field till his mission was accomplished and his boys were safe. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. And he earned ‘em.”            

          It took months for Clark to get back in shape. He had the perfect excuse, but he didn’t quit the Army to scale the corporate peaks as so many of our best and brightest did back then. Instead, he took a demoralized company of short-timers at Fort Knox who were suffering from a Vietnam hangover and made them the best on post – a major challenge in 1970 when our Army was teetering on the edge of anarchy. Then he stuck around to become one of the young Turks who forged the Green Machine into the magnificent sword that Norman Schwarzkopf swung so skillfully during Round One of the Gulf War.            

          I asked Clark why he didn’t turn in his bloody soldier suit for Armani and the big civvy dough that was definitely his for the asking.            

          His response: “I wanted to serve my country.”            

          He says he now wants to lead America out of the darkness, shorten what promises to be the longest and nastiest war in our history and restore our eroding prestige around the world.            

          For sure, he’ll be strong on defense. But with his high moral standards and because he knows where and how the game’s played, there will probably be zero tolerance for either Pentagon porking or two-bit shenanigans.            

          No doubt he’s made his share of enemies. He doesn’t suffer fools easily and wouldn’t have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he’s ripped into during the past three decades.            

          Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a “Perfumed Prince.” Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time.            

          At the interview, Clark came along without the standard platoon of handlers and treated the little folks who poured the coffee and served the bacon and eggs with exactly the same respect and consideration he gave the biggies in the dining room like my colleague Larry King and Bob Tisch, the Regency Hotel’s owner. An appealing common touch.            

          But if he wins the election, don’t expect an Andrew Jackson field-soldier type. Clark’s an intellectual, and his military career is more like Ike’s – that of a staff guy and a brilliant high-level commander. Can he make tough decisions? Bet on it. Just like Ike did during his eight hard but prosperous years as president.

          White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

          by BOHICA on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:12:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  sigh.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BOHICA

            Reading that upsets me that he didn't win the primaries in 2004. If presidential elections weren't a parellel resemeblence of prom king/queen voting, we would be so much better off.

            I missed this piece and it is well said.

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