The general under attack

By Geraldine Sealey
January 16, 2004 4:30AM (UTC)
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Has Wesley Clark flip-flopped on Iraq, or has he just been less than nimble in explaining his position? Clark stumbled out of the gate (as they say in the racing form) on the subject, famously yelping "Mary, help!" to his press officer when reporters questioned him about Iraq. Today he is coming under fire again for apparent inconsistencies in his stance on the war.

On the Drudge Report, today's headline blares that "Clark Made Case for Iraq War Before Congress" in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in September 2002. Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before we received email about this from the RNC, and Joe Lieberman trumpeted it in a press release. But if you read the actual transcript from the hearing, you find a nuanced and thoughtful approach to dealing with Hussein -- and a far cry from advocating what Bush eventually did.


For the conscientious, here is a long excerpt. For the lazy, here are a few crucial snippets. What Clark actually said was that he had seen "no substantial evidence linking Saddam's regime to the al Qaeda network," that the use of force "should be used as the last resort after all diplomatic means have been exhausted unless there's information that indicates that a further delay would represent an immediate risk to the assembled forces and organizations" and that "If the efforts to resolve the problem by using the United Nations fail, either initially or ultimately, then we need to form the broadest possible coalition including our NATO allies and the North Atlantic Council if we're going to have to bring forces to bear. We should not be using force until the personnel, the organizations, the plans that will be required for post conflict Iraq are prepared and ready."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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