A Citizen's Appeal to a General in a Time of War (at Home)
September 12, 2003
Dear General Wesley Clark,
I've been meaning to write to you for some time. Two days after the Oscars, when I felt very alone and somewhat frightened by the level of hatred toward me for daring to suggest that we were being led into war for "fictitious reasons," one person stuck his neck out and came to my defense on national television.
And that person was you.
Aaron Brown had just finished interviewing me by satellite on CNN, and I had made a crack about me being "the only non-general allowed on CNN all week." He ended the interview and then turned to you, as you were sitting at the desk with him. He asked you what you thought of this crazy guy, Michael Moore. And, although we were still in Week 1 of the war, you boldly said that my dissent was necessary and welcome, and you pointed out that I was against Bush and his "policies," not the kids in the service. I sat in Flint, Mich., with the earpiece still in my ear and I was floored -- a GENERAL standing up for me and, in effect, for all the millions who were opposed to the war but had been bullied into silence.
Since that night, I have spent a lot of time checking you out. And what I've learned about you corresponds to my experience with you back in March. You seem to be a man of integrity. You seem not afraid to speak the truth. I liked your answer when you were asked your position on gun control: "If you are the type of person who likes assault weapons, there is a place for you -- the United States Army. We have them."
In addition to being first in your class at West Point, a four-star general from Arkansas, and the former supreme commander of NATO -- enough right there that should give pause to any peace-loving person -- I have discovered that ...
1. You oppose the PATRIOT Act and would fight the expansion of its powers.
2. You are firmly pro-choice.
3. You filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan's affirmative action case.
4. You would get rid of the Bush tax "cut" and make the rich pay their fair share.
5. You respect the views of our allies and want to work with them and with the rest of the international community.
6. And you oppose war. You have said that war should always be the "last resort" and that it is military men such as yourself who are the most for peace because it is YOU and your soldiers who have to do the dying. You find something unsettling about a commander in chief who dons a flight suit and pretends to be Top Gun, a stunt that dishonored those who have died in that flight suit in the service of their country.
General Clark, last night I finally got to meet you in person. I would like to share with others what I said to you privately: You may be the person who can defeat George W. Bush in next year's election.
This is not an endorsement. For me, it's too early for that. I have liked Howard Dean (in spite of his flawed positions in support of some capital punishment, his grade "A" rating from the NRA, and his opposition to cutting the Pentagon budget). And Dennis Kucinich is so committed to all the right stuff. We need candidates in this race who will say the things that need to be said, to push the pathetically lame Democratic Party into having a backbone -- or get out of the way and let us have a REAL second party on the ballot.
But right now, for the sake and survival of our very country, we need someone who is going to get the job done, period. And that job, no matter whom I speak to across America -- be they leftie Green or conservative Democrat, and even many disgusted Republicans -- EVERYONE is of one mind as to what that job is:
Bush must go.
This is war, General, and it's Bush & Co.'s war on us. It's their war on the middle class, the poor, the environment, their war on women and their war against anyone around the world who doesn't accept total American domination. Yes, it's a war -- and we, the people, need a general to beat back those who have abused our Constitution and our basic sense of decency.
The General vs. the Texas Air National Guard deserter! I want to see that debate, and I know who the winner is going to be.
The other night, when you were on Bill Maher's show, he began by reading to you a quote from Howard Dean where he (Dean) tried to run away from the word "liberal." Maher said to you, so, General, do you want to run away from that word? Without missing a beat, you said "No!" and you reminded everyone that America was founded as a "liberal democracy." The audience went wild with applause.
That is what we have needed for a long time on our side -- guts. I am sure there are things you and I don't see eye to eye on, but now is the time for all good people from the far left to the middle of the road to bury the damn hatchet and get together behind someone who is not only good on the issues but can beat George W. Bush. And where I come from in the Midwest, General, I know you are the kind of candidate that the average American will vote for.
Michael Moore likes a general? I never thought I'd write these words. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I want to know more about you. I want your voice heard. I would like to see you in these debates. Then let the chips fall where they may -- and we'll all have a better idea of what to do. If you sit it out, then I think we all know what we are left with.
I am asking everyone I know to send an e-mail to you now to encourage you to run, even if they aren't sure they would vote for you. (Wesley Clark's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.) None of us truly know how we will vote five months from now or a year from now. But we do know that this race needs a jolt -- and Bush needs to know that there is one person he won't be able to Dukakisize.
Take the plunge, General Clark. At the very least, the nation needs to hear what you know about what was really behind this invasion of Iraq and your fresh ideas of how we can live in a more peaceful world. Yes, your country needs you to perform one more act of brave service -- to help defeat an enemy from within, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, an address that used to belong to "we, the people."
Lottery # 275, U.S. military draft, 1972
Conscientious Objector applicant