piece was sent to us and we believe it is important
enough to share with our viewers because it appears
Gen. Wesley Clark is not the anti-war candidate
some people like Michael Moore are claiming he
is. It is obvious from this letter he wrote back
in April of this year, that first appeared in
the "Opinions:Comments" section of the
Times/UK that he not only supported the war in
Iraq but Bush and Blair. We also find the tone
of his words very disturbing. Just what we need:
trading oil/energy robber barons for a battle-
loving military man.]
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 first place, the final military success needs
to be assured. Whatever caused the sudden collapse
in Iraq, there are still reports of resistance
in Baghdad. The regime's last defenders may fade
away, but likely not without a fight. And to the
north, the cities of Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul
are still occupied by forces that once were loyal
to the regime. It may take some armed persuasion
for them to lay down their arms. And finally,
the Baath party and other security services remain
to be identified and disarmed. Then there's the
matter of returning order and security. The looting
has to be stopped. The institutions of order have
been shattered. And 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.
The interim US commander must quickly deliver
humanitarian relief and re-establish government
for a country of 24 million people the size of
California. Already, the acrimony has begun between
the Iraqi exile groups, the US and Britain, and
local people. Still, the immediate tasks at hand
in Iraq cannot obscure the significance of the
moment. The regime seems to have collapsed --
the primary military objective -- and with that
accomplished, the defense ministers and generals,
soldiers and airmen should take pride. American
and Brits, working together, produced a lean plan,
using only about a third of the ground combat
power of the Gulf War. If the alternative to attacking
in March with the equivalent of four divisions
was to wait until late April to attack with five,
they certainly made the right call.
But no one ever won a war or a battle with a plan.
Every soldier knows there are only two kinds of
plans: plans that might work and plans that won't
work. The art of war is to take a plan that might
work and then drive it to success. This, General
Tommy Franks and his team did very well indeed.
Everyone who has ever served knows that battles
are won at the bottom -- by the men and women
looking through the sights, pulling the triggers,
loading the cannon and fixing the planes. The
generals can lose battles, and they can set the
conditions for success -- but they can't win.
That's done by the troops alone. And nothing could
have been more revealing than those armored fights
in which a handful of US tanks wiped out a score
of opposing Iraqi armored vehicles, again and
again, and usually without suffering any losses,
while in the south, the British troops worked
their way through the suburbs of Basra with skills
born of sound training and firm discipline, minimizing
friendly casualties, civilian losses and destruction.
It's to the men and women who fought it out on
the arid highways, teeming city streets and crowded
skies that we owe the greatest gratitude. All
volunteers, they risked their lives as free men
and women, because they believed in their countries
and answered their calls. They left families and
friends behind for a mission uncertain. They didn't
do it for the glory or the pittance of combat
pay. Sadly, some won't return -- and they, most
of all, need to be honored and remembered.
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. Relationships, institutions
and issues have virtually all been mortgaged to
success in changing the regime in Baghdad. And
in the Islamic world the war has been seen in
a far different light than in the US and Britain.
Much of the world saw this as a war of aggression.
They were stunned by the implacable determination
to use force, as well as by the sudden and lopsided
Now the bills must be paid, amid the hostile image
created in many areas by the allied action. Surely
the balm of military success will impact on the
diplomacy to come -- effective power so clearly
displayed always shocks and stuns. Many Gulf states
will hustle to praise their liberation from a
sense of insecurity they were previously loath
even to express. Egypt and Saudi Arabia will move
slightly but perceptibly towards Western standards
of human rights.
Germany has already swung round from opposition
to the war to approval. France will look for a
way to bridge the chasm of understanding that
has ripped at the EU. Russia will have to craft
a new way forward, detouring away, at least temporarily,
from the reflexive anti-Americanism which infects
the power ministries. And North Korea will shudder,
for it has seen on display an even more awesome
display of power than it anticipated, and yet
it will remain resolute in seeking leverage to
assure its own regime's survival. And what it
produces, it sells.
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.
And there will be more jostling over the substance
and timing of new peace initiatives for Israel
and the Palestinians. Whatever the brief prewar
announcement about the "road map"?, this issue
is far from settled in Washington, and is unlikely
to achieve any real momentum until the threats
to Israel's northern borders are resolved. And
that is an added pressure to lean on Bashir Assad
and the ayatollahs in Iran.
As for the political leaders themselves, President
Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve
in the face of so much doubt. And especially Mr
Blair, who skillfully managed tough internal politics,
an incredibly powerful and sometimes almost irrationally
resolute ally, and concerns within Europe. Their
opponents, those who questioned the necessity
or wisdom of the operation, are temporarily silent,
but probably unconvinced. And more tough questions
remain to be answered.
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. 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
Let's have those parades on the Mall and down
Constitution Avenue -- but don't demobilize yet.
There's a lot yet to be done, and not only by
the diplomats. General Wesley Clark was Supreme
Allied Commander Europe 1997-2000 and led Nato
forces during the Kosovo campaign
September 20, 2003