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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Blogging conference call

Since when did Wesley Clark, former US Presidential candidate and NATO General during the "liberation" of Kosovo, conduct a conference call with carefully selected bloggers? On Monday afternoon, Clark spoke to Juan Cole, among others, and Cole writes his impressions here.

Highlights include the charge that the US military thought in September 2002 that Iraq could be "held" with 70,000 troops. Furthermore, Clark contends that the Bush administration is walking a very delicate tightrope between isolating Iran and Syria but also needing them to ensure Iraq's insurgency doesn't exponentially expand.

I've never been too fond of Clark. I remember hearing him described as the "humane war general" during last year's US election campaign. Many commentators still contend that the Kosovo action was, in fact, not as benign as history has already written. Robert Fisk commented in 2003 that Clark's record in Kosovo was contentious at best. "I remember General Clark telling us that more than 100 Yugoslav tanks had been destroyed in the weeks of that war", Fisk said. "And when the war came to an end, we discovered the number of Yugoslav tanks destroyed were 11. 100 indeed."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't help yourself, can you Lowenstein?

Cole came away with a positive view of Clark, but you can't get past the stereotyping: ex General = enemy of liberal thinking.

I don't know why you thought Clark's comment that the US military thought Iraq could be "held" with 70,000 troops was the highlight.

The highlight for me was the fact he again pointed to neocon plans to use Iraq as a stepping stone to Syria and Iran. Someone has to call them out on this and I'm glad Clark is doing it.

Says Cole: I thought Clark put his finger on a key contradiction in the Bush administration "forward policy" in the Middle East, of targeting the governments of Syria and Iran for destruction even while the US needs their cooperation to avoid widening disaster in Iraq. This policy is not rational if it were intended solely for the benefit of the United States, and he thinks it derives from a concern to bolster regional allies even at the expense of US interests."

It was Samantha Powell who described Clark as a humanitarian general and she only won a Pulitzer prize for her book about genocide, what would she know?

Does giving Robert Fisk an overestimation of tanks bombed disqualify Clark from that title?


Thursday, April 07, 2005 9:12:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since when" did Wesley Clark, former US Presidential candidate and NATO General during the "liberation" of Kosovo, conduct a conference call with carefully selected bloggers?

Since Monday, Antony. You answered your own question.

As for your undeservedly low opinion of Clark, why not stream this House Armed Services Committee testimony from today, April 6th & see if you can think and or feel your way to a more enlightened position regarding Clark:

Just click on the microphone icon- you may have to search for it in the archives beyond today


Thursday, April 07, 2005 9:43:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides- what's with the living in the past- Bosnia, as opposed to current events? You act as if Clark- not BushInc- started a premptive "War on Terror" for oil, etc.

Have you not noticed Clark is a high-profile, outspoken & hard working voice of reason in a world severely impacted by the policies of the neo-cons he opposes?

Thursday, April 07, 2005 9:52:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lowenstein:

I will tell you right up front that I am a Wes Clark supporter. Frankly, I found your blog post about him here to be offensive.

There will always be those on the Progressive side of politics those who will find the fact that General Clark ever wore a uniform to be a no-go for them. But, it wasn't your attitude that was as offensive as the fact that you are from Australia. Are you an American expatriate? Or are you just some snarky, opinionated guy with nothing better to do than stick your nose into American politics? Or, do you just have an opinion about everything, and dammit, people are gonna hear it?

What's the matter... is John Howard too deeply entrenched for you to make any headway against him? Why aren't you spending time getting HIS worthless butt out of politics for the good of the Aussies? Or is it that no one gives a rat's petoot what you think down under, so you have to find people who will listen to your little itty bitty opinion somewhere?

You have no idea of the political, popular, or electoral climate here in the States. Wes may be the only candidate teh Democrats could put forward who could defeat the Republicans. But, what the heck do you know sitting there in that comfy armchair in Sydney?

Take your "talent" and unseat Howard first. Then, maybe, we'll talk. Until then, butt the heck out of U.S. politics. I did not appreciate seeing this good, decent, intelligent man "commented on" like you know what you're talking about.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 9:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kosovo campaign - undertaken to stop genocide, btw - has been described by not a few analysts as, in this article by Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon, "the most successful use of strategic bombardment in the history of warfare."

Another who spoke of it in those same terms was a man known to be no fan of Clark's, Sec. Wm. Cohen:

Have you read Clark's account of the war and the diplomacy behind it? I recommend it: Waging Modern War.

Gen. Clark had to buck his entire chain of command all the way up to and including Sec. Cohen to undertake this humanitarian intervention. He really put his whole career - a brilliant career - on the line. He successfully completed the mission but could not overcome his personal critics in the end. Yet he still speaks of it as something that was worth what it cost him. "When you have the chance to do some good, you do it." Wes Clark is a great general and an even greater human being.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 10:26:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you even aware Mr. Lowenstein, that Wes Clark and Dennis Kucinich were the only "viable" candidates '04 who did not in one way or another support the ill-conceived war-agenda of the Bush Administration?

The world would be a much safer place if our congress had listened to General Clark's testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in Sept. 2002 warning against a unilateral attack among other things. Here's the link to that transcript for your edification.

I do believe that rather than sitting smugly in Sydney or wherever and criticizing one of our true patriots, you might be well-advised to take a long hard look at your own government's administration.

Americans aren't necessarily stupid Antony, we were lied to... and since you are apparently already predisposed to getting your facts wrong maybe you should focus on a thorough investigation of your own country's affairs.

And by the way, I was included in one of Wes Clark's teleconferencing calls last year becuz? Just becuz Wes Clark is actually willing to hear average Americans like me.

Sybil Liberty

Thursday, April 07, 2005 11:10:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you might be well-advised to take a long hard look at your own government's administration"

No kidding, there, friend- you might look to the young Bush family member (was it a cousin?) who cut his teeth on the Bush-Cheney campaign here & came down to teach your Prime Minister the tricks of the rightwing trade.


Thursday, April 07, 2005 2:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a damn sexy jacket.

- D's daughter.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 5:13:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Damn sexy jacket? Shucks, thanks. Smoking style, taken in Sri Lanka, Aussie colours on the tie.
As for Wesley Clark, I've clearly upset some sensitive US types. I'm aware of the obsessive nature the man instills. That's fine. I'm simply suggesting that if people truly believe that a man like Clark can a) become President and b) restore whatever image the US supposedly lost in Iraq, I must disagree.
He's against the current orthodoxy in Washington, and that's reassuring. Speaking out against the neo-cons is important.
And to my US readers, I am not simply focusing on US politics, I am very involved in Australian politics and changing the status quo. Difference is, the current world empire is based in Washington, not Canberra, so greater scrutiny is essential.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 6:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Loewenstein:
General Clark is an honest man. You may have unanswered questions, you seem to be wrestling with. Come join us over at Clark Community Network and learn more about General Clark. The General is really a fasinating man - I would bet you have more in common with him than you might think. Come find out and learn more about him and his followers.

Thursday, April 07, 2005 11:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lowenstein said:
"I'm simply suggesting that if people truly believe that a man like Clark can a) become President and b) restore whatever image the US supposedly lost in Iraq, I must disagree...
He's against the current orthodoxy in Washington, and that's reassuring. Speaking out against the neo-cons is important. "

No, that's not all you were suggesting. You were suggesting that Kosovo was a farce and misrepresented, which is the constant theme of your left-tilting "associates".

Unless we wish to live in a one-party state through this milennium, these left-tilters had better stop worshipping at those ancient altars. There may be only one way to win back our country and that's to put this common-sensical-progressive retired military man in the Oval Office.

"Speaking out against the neo-cons is important"...How little you know Antony: Wes Clark was the only Dem candidate who had the courage to make charges against "PNAC" loud and clear during the primaries. Thanks to MSM and to people like you, the General was given a "blackout", he was not heard. If you truly desire to serve democracy, you should perhaps take off your blinders and step away from that altar.

"Difference is, the current world empire is based in Washington, not Canberra, so greater scrutiny is essential."

Greater scrutiny? Does that mean getting the facts straight? That would be ever-so...wouldn't it?
Sybil Liberty

Friday, April 08, 2005 2:07:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the lead article today on your blog you quote Robert Fisk, giving him plaudits for seeing the real cause of terrorism.

Here's someone with similiar thoughts -- Gen Wesley Clark at Temple University:

"The solution to terrorism is not going to be found in bullets," Clark said. "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."

Of course I agree with you that Washington is the centre of the empire right now and you don't have to convince me of the need for scrutiny of US politics.

I've been scrutinising it and I don't understand why you think

a) Clark couldn't be elected president (Juan Cole came away from their conference call talking about it like a real possibility) and

b) why he couldn't restore whatever image the US supposedly lost in Iraq. From your wording I gather you're not sure the US lost any image in Iraq -- it never had a good image with you and therein lies the problem regarding your opinion. Of course Clark as president wouldn't make you think positively of the US. No politician in any country would make you think positively of that country. I know how you think, and to a point I empathize. But someone has to be elected President, and I'd rather someone who has seen and doesn't like war or the role of the military industrial complex in it.

Clark's attitude to what needs to be done is closer to yours than you want to admit.

This from page 193 of his book "Winning Modern War" on The War on Terror (and he puts the "war" in quote marks)

.."winning the "war" required far-reaching reforms in critical societies in the Middle East -- more pragmatic education, broader economic development, and wider political participation -- as well as the establishment of a just and comprehensive settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. For the US to effect change in these critical areas would require far more intensive engagement, backed by substantial economic and political development assistance; and given the impact thus far of the US invasion of Iraq the US would need to provide this assistance through international and regional organisations wherever possible."

You don't disagree with what Clark says, you just having a resistance to believe a former military man can have many of the same opinions as you.


Saturday, April 09, 2005 8:06:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I know you like Seymour Hersh, ant. Well Hersh has a high opinion of Clark:

... obviously there were certain people talking to me. People on the inside know what's going on. And so, I probably agree it was OK to do it. But I felt bad when I saw [former Gen. Wesley] Clark later. I had talked to Clark about the story at the time. Then two years later I ran into him when he was running for president, or right before, and he said, "Whatever happened to that story?" I said, "Well, I just decided not to write it." And he said, "Well, you should have. It's your job."

He's an amazingly straight guy. A difficult guy. "You should have." He basically told me, "Punk kid. You didn't know what you were doing." I also respect him because ...

And at that point the interviewer, Mary Jacoby interrupts Hersh and asks another question.

She might be one of those left-wingers who doesn't want to hear an ex-General praised... I've heard there are a few of them about :-)


Saturday, April 09, 2005 8:24:00 am  

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