The Secrets Clark Kept

What the General Never Told Us About the Bush Plan for Serial War

One must note, however, that by his own word in the book, he wrote it with considerable speed over the summer and was updating it as late as the first week in September. It started arriving in bookstores only a few days ago, one week after he announced his candidacy.

Also in the introduction, the general writes another commentary that he never gave on CNN:

"After 9/11, during the first months of the war on terror, a critical opportunity to nail Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was missed. Additionally, our allies were neglected and a counter-terrorist strategy was adopted that, despite all the rhetoric, focused the nation on a conventional attack on Iraq rather than a shadowy war against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks: Al Qaeda. I argue that not only did the Bush administration misunderstand the lessons of modern war, it made a policy blunder of significant proportions. . . . [E]vidence and rhetoric were used selectively to justify the decision to attack Iraq. . . . [W]e had re-energized Al Qaeda by attacking an Islamic state and presenting terrorists with ready access to vulnerable U.S. forces. It was the inevitable result of a flawed strategy."

And on page 135, still another previously unspoken analysis: "And so, barely six months into the war on terror, the direction seemed set. The United States would strike, using its military superiority; it would enlarge the problem, using the strikes on 9/11 to address the larger Middle East concerns. . . and it would dissipate the huge outpouring of goodwill and sympathy it had received in September 2001 by going it largely alone, without the support of a formal alliance or full support from the United Nations. And just as the Bush administration suggested, [the conflict] could last for years."

I think reasonable people would agree that GeneraI Clark has a campaign problem—namely, the differences between what he has said in the past about the war and the president, and what he’s saying now. Now he’s saying that George Bush took the country "recklessly" into war. He never used language like that as a commentator. In fact, in an April 10 column for the Times of London, just after the fall of Baghdad, he wrote, "President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt."

Clark should probably talk to the public about these discrepancies as soon as he can. The issues for him are credibility and trust. Americans have grown cynical. They’ve listened to hurricanes of hot air over the years. Who knows? If a candidate were to start telling the unvarnished truth, they might freeze in their tracks and listen.

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