Lebanon invasion part of 5 year neocon plan


Richard Moore

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The Secrets Clark Kept
What the General Never Told Us About the Bush Plan for Serial War
by Sydney H. Schanberg
September 29th, 2003 7:30 PM

Winning Modern Wars author Wesley Clark
photo: www.clark04.com

Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general who is one of 10 candidates for the 
Democratic nomination for president, has written a new book that is just 
arriving on bookstore shelves. Called Winning Modern Wars, it¹s mostly about the
Iraq war and terrorism‹and it is laced with powerful new information that he 
held back from the public when he was a CNN military commentator during the Bush
administration¹s preparations for the war.

For example, he says he learned from military sources at the Pentagon in 
November 2001, just two months after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New 
York and Washington, that serious planning for the war on Iraq had already begun
and that, in addition to Iraq, the administration had drawn up a list of six 
other nations to be targeted over a period of five years.

Here¹s what he writes on page 130:

"As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior 
military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for 
going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as 
part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven 
countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and 
Sudan." Clark adds, "I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned."

He never disclosed anything like this information in any of his CNN commentaries
or in the opinion columns he wrote for print media at the time. If Americans had
known such things, and if the information is accurate, would they have supported
the White House¹s march to war? Would Congress have passed the war resolution 
the White House asked for?

On the next page of the book, 131, Clark writes: "And what about the real 
sources of terrorists‹U.S. allies in the region like Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi 
Arabia? Wasn¹t it the repressive policies of the first, and the corruption and 
poverty of the second, that were generating many of the angry young men who 
became terrorists? And what of the radical ideology and direct funding spewing 
from Saudi Arabia? Wasn¹t that what was holding the radical Islamic movement 
together? . . . It seemed that we were being taken into a strategy more likely 
to make us the enemy‹encouraging what could look like a Œclash of 
civilizations¹‹not a good strategy for Winning the war on terror."

These are very potent observations, coming from a military man with more than 
three decades of experience who is known for his intellectual candlepower. He 
was a leading commentator on television, chosen for his expertise in military 
strategy and geopolitics. Why didn¹t he share these opinions with us then, when 
an informed public might have raised its voice and demanded more answers from 
the White House?

Was Clark being censored? Or was it self-censorship? In the introduction to 
Winning Modern Wars, he writes that while he is "protecting" his military 
sources by leaving them unidentified, "the public interest demands that some of 
this information be shared." He adds, "Nothing in this book is derived from 
classified material nor have I written anything that could compromise national 
security." Then why wait until now to serve "the public interest"? Was the 
general worried that if he had spoken earlier, in a jingoistic atmosphere, he 
would have been labeled unpatriotic? It¹s an understandable concern.

Whatever his reasons, General Clark surely has some explaining to do now.

Maybe he has some valid explanations, such as that these views are conclusions 
that evolved over a period of time. But that¹s not the way he writes it in the 

Inconsistencies between old and new remarks are common topics in presidential 
elections‹if that¹s what these are. Inconsistencies aren¹t mortal sins, just 
mortal imperfections. Reporters commit them. Anyone who publishes stuff commits 
them. Sometimes they happen because of changes in circumstances. Sometimes it¹s 
plain old sloppy thinking. But the best way for the perpetrator to deal with 
them is to point them out as quickly as possible and explain them.

For a presidential candidate, the urgency is more intense, because if you let 
such problems hang around unattended to, the press will eventually discover them
and, like rabid geese, nibble you to death.

Also, in this campaign especially, truth telling (or the lack of it) has become 
a big issue. The president and several lieges at his roundtable uttered so many 
distortions and exaggerations and untrue "facts" about why we had to go to war 
with Iraq that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney eventually had to 
come forward and admit they had "misspoken"‹in particular about Iraq¹s nuclear 
capabilities. They still haven¹t acknowledged a lot of other misspeaks. Those 
running against this president would be well-advised not to fall into his errant

Getting back to the Winning Modern Wars book, it is Clark's second and a sequel 
of sorts to the first one, which had a similar title, Waging Modern War, and 
came out two years ago. Both are published by PublicAffairs. Waging was mostly 
about the successful 78-day air war in Kosovo in 1999, which Clark directed as 
NATO military chief (officially the supreme allied commander, Europe). Winning 
is a much slimmer book that reads like a campaign document. Clark knows people 
will perceive it that way and he denies any political motivation, saying in the 
introduction that he wrote it as a public duty, especially for the nation¹s 
military men and women. "Offering this analysis," he says, "is the least I can 
do to help them and to help my country."

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 he¹s saying now. Now he¹s 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.
They¹ve 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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