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January 17, 2004
Does This Sound Anti-War To You?

General Wesley Clark has spoken many times during the campaign, especially recently, regarding his opposition to the war in Iraq. On Thursday, Clark's testimony before Congress on Iraq in 2002 surfaced, testimony which hardly seemed at odds with the Bush Administration's own position: attempt to get the UN to finally enforce its own resolutions after 12 years, and if not, get as many nations together as possible and take action outside the UN. Clark's representatives deny this, claiming that there is nothing in Clark's testimony that demonstrates anything except his opposition to the war.

They must not have read the general's own article, published after the fall of Baghdad in the London Times:

Can anything be more moving than the joyous throngs swarming the streets of Baghdad? Memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the defeat of Milosevic in Belgrade flood back. Statues and images of Saddam are smashed and defiled. Liberation is at hand. Liberation — the powerful balm that justifies painful sacrifice, erases lingering doubt and reinforces bold actions. Already the scent of victory is in the air. Yet a bit more work and some careful reckoning need to be done before we take our triumph. ...

The real questions revolve around two issues: the War on Terror and the Arab-Israeli dispute. And these questions are still quite open. 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.

But the operation in Iraq will also serve as a launching pad for further diplomatic overtures, pressures and even military actions against others in the region who have supported terrorism and garnered weapons of mass destruction. Don’t look for stability as a Western goal. Governments in Syria and Iran will be put on notice — indeed, may have been already — that they are “next” if they fail to comply with Washington’s concerns.

It certainly sounds like General Clark shared the same vision as the Bush Administration -- until he decided to run for President as a Democrat. He goes on to praise Bush and Tony Blair for their "resolve in the face of so much doubt," which also sounds like an endorsement. He does follow that up with a false premise:

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. [emph. mine] It was to continue the struggle against terror, bring democracy to Iraq, and create change, positive change, in the Middle East. And none of that is begun, much less completed.

The war in Iraq was never solely about WMDs, despite the simplistic protests of those who cannot conceive that there may be more than one reason to take action or make decisions. Saddam had defied the UN by refusing to comply with 17 UNSC resolutions requiring him not only to disarm and destroy his WMDs but also to document the process for verification. Iraq continue to harass the enforcers of the no-fly zones in defiance of the cease-fire that ended hostilities in 1991, a casus belli in and of itself. As we have found after the fall of Baghdad, Iraq was buying and importing weapons in violation of both the cease-fire and the UNSC resolutions and arms embargo. Certainly not least, Saddam and his sons brutally oppressed the Iraqis and committed ongoing acts of genocide, notably against the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.

Clark changes positions more often than Dean gets angry. For two candidates whose supporters are drawn from the "Bush Lied" crowd, the lack of consistency on the war and other issues is puzzling ... and revealing.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 17, 2004 3:53 PM

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