Gen. Wesley Clark at the IU Auditorium 10/31

posted with misspellings and all in the interest of getting it up quickly. I’ll try to fix it later!

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Wesley Clark @ the IU Auditorium 10/31/2005

– opens by mentioning the fact that he was a high school swimmer. Talks about Doc Swenson? as being the best swimming coach.

– mentions that the security people had on costumes in the airport this morning.

– more than 4 years since 9/11, still in Afghanistan more than 20000 troops on the ground. talks about how the election has placed some warlords are now in parliament – we’ll see how this goes. Iraq election on constitution – could also go either way. sunnis for the most part voted against the constitution. Democrats are now saying in earnest – bring the troops home.

– where have we come from and where will it take us. massive transition period. talks about his retirement from the military. goes into great detail about the portions of the military that he was running. dry topic but he intersperses with funny anecdotes. essentially frames how good he had it and the resources he had at his disposal. `

– we need to take charge of america. transition he’s talking about started in 1989. the cold war was over and the Berlin wall was torn down. his generation never thought this would happen. saw the Berlin wall and the communists at the age of 19. made it seem permanent. it became a competition of ideas – freedom vs. collectivism, freedom of expression v. censorship, etc. Republicans tried to rule with more weapons and democrats with discussion. opened up the doors to universities so that foreign students could study here and learn democracy.
George Bush worked the system to end communism & the cold war and get the soviets to pull out of eastern Europe.

– 1994 became J5, help the uniformed services match the plan of the white house. what was the military supposed to do after the cold war? wondered why he was in the pentagon. about to go to war w/n. korea over nuclear inspections, and war in Bosnia. talks about the phenomena of watching military actions on CNN in real time that his military aides didn’t know about (Rwanda). They were all unprepared. jr. aide informs him (even though he’s not supposed to) that there’s a secret plan to invade Haiti. He’s incredulous. Sr. offical asks him what all the crisis are? what’s the strategy? he didn’t know and it was his job to figure it out. discovered Republicans said they had no enemies. bring the troops home. Democrats – no enemies. let’s do something good and useful with the troops. everyone said that the military was too large. created a strategy of “engagement & enlargement.” Incredibly busy. put 20000 troops in Bosnia. went after Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden. Slobodan Milošević, all based on this strategy that no one really knew about. couches all of these occurrences in the terms of the new innovations in technology, growth of China as a major power, etc.

– foreign people talked about the friendliness of the US people, but how they knew nothing about their country and didn’t care. America important to the rest of the world but other countries aren’t important to us. our culture and entertainment is our biggest export. 2000 was the pinnacle of American Power. but we didn’t have a strategy or a vision and didn’t know the risks.

– until 9/11. should have finished with Osama bin Laden. but we didn’t administration felt Saddam Hussein was more important. Rumsfeld told him that they would be going to war. With Iraq. Why? b/c the administration doesn’t know what to do about the terrorism problem.

– 2 days after 9//11 he’s informed that there’s going to be a distinct political shift towards the right and he needed to get on the bandwagon. he felt it was a cheap tactic. this war was a war of choice.

– we’re still there. what do we do now? we still have no national security strategy.

– going to iraq was not an appropriate response to Osama bin Laden. It addressed a different problem.
– the reason we went to war w/Iraq wasn’t there. but the same weapons are owned by other volatile countries
– can not win the war on terror by might alone – must win the war of ideas. no more powerful weapon in the world than an idea who’s time has come.
– legal struggle. need to build relationships with allied countries. we should be leaders in information collection. we didn’t do this – we used forced. force should be an absolute last resort. it’s irrevocable and has permanent consequences. you make people hate you for killing their friends and relatives. frames it from the position of a lifetime military professional. (he’s going to campaign on the war)
– must keep the leader of Syria even though the christian right wants us to. must support him so he’ll stop the use of Syria as a base for terrorism.
– Iran moves to a nuclear weapon. perhaps because we invaded the only axis of evil that doesn’t have them. :)
– we should open the trade embargo with Iran. American-Iranians will take US values back to Iran. should invade Iran with businessmen.
– we must use every other alternative first other than force. feels that business, and religion tore down the iron curtain.
– we must build a network around Iraq to support the sunnis outside of Iraq to support the sunnis in Iraq. terrible to send “police” into a country that can’t speak the language.
– this way we can work our way out of Iraq instead of having a Vietnam-like debacle. we want the middle east to advance not become a terrorist cesspool.

– the bush administration has tunnel vision – focused only on Iraq. frames himself as a patriot. says “he’s not running for anything”

the challenge of China. the only country on the horizon to be able to challenge American wealth and power. business brought America it’s power. China has scale. built goal is to build 100 top flight research universities. the creation of new technology and investment and power. this is a challenge. China needs to come into the 21st century in such a way that our values are aligned.

– we need to rebuild our alliances with Europe. rebuild NATO. treat European countries with respect. when we’re not the world’s greatest economic power we’ll need the UN. we need to start building international law. make sure the UN is competent, and follow and keep the international laws we expect other countries to keep.

– India is very important.

– if we don’t fix america’s public schools – common good. not private good. every child should graduate from high school and have the opportunity to go to college regardless of the cost

– embarrassing that we don’t have uninsured.

– environment is extremely important. natural resources need to be protected. must lead the world in facing global warming. national security threat.

– these are some of the issues. we must have a national strategy. we must consider our character as a nation.

Carl Sandburg poem

– we must be visionary. we must be generous.

largely a standing ovation


Q: senseless war in Iraq. why no antiwar movement?

b/c the issues are complicated. plus there’s no draft. people are largely separate from people who are serving there.

Q: asks him to comment on some statements. need for an international justice tribunal. this man believes in a just war – against a large aggressor. gives example of Rwanda.

talks about international law. appropriate response (nice response) to a largely disjointed question. mentions book the Quark & the Jaguar. (demonstrates that he’s capable of deep thought processes.)

Q: how was it possible that he didn’t know about the details of Bosnia when he was in the military – how are “normal” people supposed to have a real debate with what’s presented in the media.

talks about the business of the media. coverage based on marketshare. there are polls. if people aren’t interested it’s not going to get covered. personal responsibility

Q: concerned about Darfur. what can/should we do?*

should intervene. need 20000 troops. many of them should be American. we should have already been there. it doesn’t matter the color of people’s skin or how remote they are

Q: how was national guard sent overseas without debate

it’s in the law. they can be drafted into international service.

Q: appreciates him coming out. goes on forever. wants to know about his domestic ideas (so not the point of his talk) is this guy high? he’s going on and on. does he want a damn cookie? is this white guy entitlement that he thinks he can talk for ever and ever and ever….?

misquotes the catchphrase of the United Negro College fund “a mind is a precious thing to waste”…(should be a mind is a terrible thing to waste) but his heart is in the right place as he goes on to say that we should foster and fulfill inquisitiveness. parents more important than teachers. parents set value systems. (true …but mommy and daddy should be able to make enough $$ so they can be engaged as well) his heart is totally in the right place. believes in education – small schools. education is not about getting into Harvard – education is for everyone.

Q: nat’l security strategies abroad. what about border security.

reluctant to build fences. we’re a nation of immigrants. (“who took the US from the American Indians….”) In this country people should learn to speak english. but it should also be a 5 year process. better for full participation for everyone. supports controlling borders but encourages immigrants

Q: was the draft killed to disengage the electorate? would draft be more expensive than paying halliburton?

he suspects that it’s cheaper to draft people and not pay them. feels that the military is better if people who are there want to be there. asks everyone who’s served to raise their hands – pretty good turnout. says that he was just w/ Pat Roberton @ Regent University and asked them the same question – there were a lot of American flags, but not many who have served. (I couldn’t make this up). says that we need people in the military who want to lead, not people who want to kill people and get in fights.)

Q: use of force should be absolute last resort. do you support a cabinent of peace.

probably not in the way your asking. does support a cabinent of nation building. how do you make sure it’s not just missionaries going into Afghanistan but real educators.

*(all questions were asked by white men except this one – asked by a white women.)

1 comment
  1. Kate said:

    Thanks for blogging it – wish that I could have been there.

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