Clark’s Statements on the Iraq War Consistent
I really object to the spin the US press put on the statements of Wesley Clark about the Iraq war. All he said is that if he had been sitting in Congress last fall, he would have voted for the initial authorization to pursue the war option, but he would not have wanted that to be a blank check for Bush to wage the war without further consultation. Clark was just being honest. Remember that this was a time only a year after 9/11 and Bush and Blair were implying that they had hard evidence that Saddam was inches away from attacking the West with some particularly nasty weapon.
Clark’s subsequent opposition to the actual war last spring was well thought out and principled. It was not a ‘flip-flop.’ I suppose I sympathize with him because my position also evolved, as I saw the Bush case on WMD collapse in March and then I watched in horror as he just tossed the Security Council aside and invaded Iraq unilaterally. I respect people (like Max Cleland, see below) who opposed the war from the beginning, as Howard Dean also did. But Clark’s positions are neither contradictory nor dishonorable.
I think the US public is smart enough and mature enough to be able to deal with a complex, evolving position on a weighty issue. Does everything now have to be dumbed down and unambiguous, just because television likes it that way? Clark is a Rhodes Scholar and a retired four star general who crafted an amazing high-tech victory in Kosovo. He is not a dodo. He did not stumble. It is just that the press likes a simple story. In the last election, Gore was “stiff” and Bush was “dumb.” This is late-night comedy, not journalism. Now Clark is “inconsistent.” He isn’t. He is bright and thoughtful and honest, and the journalists are just having trouble keeping up with him.