Outlook: Gen. Wesley Clark has rules for U.S. interventions. Libya doesn't meet them.

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Gen. Wesley Clark
Monday, March 14, 2011; 11:30 AM

Gen. Wesley Clark will be online Monday, March 14, at 11:30 a.m. ET, to chat about his latest Outlook piece "The U.S. has rules for interventions. Libya doesn't meet them."

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US intervention in Libya: What General Clark doesn't address is what happens if Gaddafi prevails, to Libyans who have joined in opposing him, other freedom movements in the region against autocrats not supported by the west read Iran, Syria....Egypt and Tunisia were both closely allied with the west and finally what kind of terror will a revived Gaddafi support not to mention alliances with other radical regimes Iran N korea Syria.Finally the US should be clear about its position when it come supporting democracy and human rights if you talk the talk be prepared to walk the walk or just keep silent

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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Nucler energy: Gen. Clark, what's your take on the use of nuclear energy to reduce America's dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Could it be a good 30-50 stopgap as renewable and cleaner fuels are developed?Stan DavisLakewood, CO

Gen. Wesley Clark: Armand, thanks for your kind words, in the last comment, which I messed up and pushed Publish too soon.

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Discussion of Defense/Security Issues: Excellent article, General...I agree completely. Unfortunately, discussion of our "defense" policies is so often limited to the handiest soundbit: "support democracy in Libya," in this case, without a rationale review of our options...including non-military ones. Emotional reactions never seem to serve us well. In that connection, do you think Secretary Gates, after getting criticism from some based more on emotion than sense, should have backed away from his original comments warning against the US trying to implement a no-fly zone in Libya?

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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Other options: General Clark, you make a strong case and it's easy to see how our involvement could escalate. But could we not supply the rebel forces with weapons, supplies, and military advisers as we did in Afghanistan against the Soviets? Would you recommend that course of action?

Gen. Wesley Clark: We don't want to lose that.

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Libya: If the west allows, as it appears to be willing to do, let Ghadaffi crush the uprising, can we expect every other Middle East dictator to gun down opposition, comforted by the knowledge that the West really doesn't care, and how many generations will it be before Middle eastern moderates will put any trust in western democracies? Isn't a win for Ghaddaffi really a win for bin laden?

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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Why do Presidents do it?: Given the risks of entanglement you write so well about in your Post article, why is it that Presidents still intervene so frequently? It seems to me that both the Bosnia and Iraq interventions did not prevent the re-election of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, so they must not have seen using the military as the huge political risk that your article implies if things go wrong. Is the all-volunteer military partly responsible for disconnecting the public opinion from Presidential consequence?

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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the strength of gaddafi's military: How does Muammar Gaddafi's military of today compare to Saddam Hussein's in 1990-91?

Gen. Wesley Clark: And, in war, strength is relative - against the rebels, he has significant combat power advantages.

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Lybia: General - You got it exactly right. No more foreign entanglements...especially in Arab Muslim lands... unless we have been attacked. This is not our fight!PJT

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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Comment: Thank you General Clark for your brilliant article. I hope that President Obama pays attention to it and refuses to give in once again to warmongers. Unfortunately most of the media have already joined the rebels in Libya, advocating for military intervension. I hope that this time wisdom and International law prevails. God bless you.

Gen. Wesley Clark: After this, if Gadhaffi remains in power, he will probably pose some additional challenges for us.

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The Clark Rules for Justifying U.S. Military Intervention: While your intervention rules applied to Libya make a cogent argument for the U.S. to avoid military involvement in Libya, I wonder why you are not equallly rigorous in applying those same rules to the 2nd Iraq War and our Vietnam-like slog in Afghanistan? Your opinion piece is patently politic in sliding over both of these blunders.L. Pearson

Gen. Wesley Clark: L, thanks, but I did for a long time caution and warn against Iraq, and even ran for office because of our blunder in going in..As for Afghanistan, withdrawal now won't alleviate the threat of the terrorist jihadists, and so we have to work that problem a little more - more with akistan, more inside Pakistan, and more with other nations, as well.

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Libya intervention: Is it ever appropriate for the U.S. military to intervene on purely moral and humanitarian grounds? For example, to oust a brutal dictator or prevent widespread slaughter? Or must there be a vital U.S. interest at stake?

Gen. Wesley Clark: But to be successful, there needs to be a strong basis in international law, and then an appropriate linkage of the right military strategy and means with a clearly defined and decisive objective.

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How can you call the Air Attacks on Serbia a 'Success'?: Weren't you listening when so many people warned of the results? Weren't you listening when Putin warned he would imitate our bad example when we gave diplomatic recognition to Kosovo? He promised he would do the same kind of illegal invasion as we did in the Kosovo intervention -- and then he did it in Georgia during the "August War".Now to be sure, the parallel is not perfect, and it was a low thing for Putin to do no matter how badly he thinks of NATO's intervention in Kosovo, but the point still stands; many people tried to warn both NATO and President Clinton that the entire historically Eastern Orthodox part of the world was going to hate you for this intervention, that it would support the Muslim world's Jihad against Christians.We are not finished yet paying the price in diplomatic and foreign policy terms due to this misadventure. Yet you say that this followed "the rules". How worthless your rules must then be.

Gen. Wesley Clark: I wouldn't call Russia's intervention in Georgia successful, would you?

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U.S. intervention in Libya: Gen.Clark, I have read your article in the Washington Post with great interest and admiration! You have outlined our histroy over the past several decades as well as an accurate list of considerations before we embark on another disaster involving our military involvment and intervention! Rarely have the American people been presented with such clarity on this serious issue. The American people, in my view, have extremely short memories, lack of education involving history and due to our lack of REAL involvement in such wars or personal loss felt by ALL of us, I don't feel public opinion is educated enough to be a decision maker. I hope to see our current administration exercise great restraint from entering into yet another crisis where the US is unclear at to the outcomes or a definitive purpose!! Please keep educating us and the administration!!

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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intervention & stratification: The US is, of course, massively more economically stratified than it was 30 years ago, and social mobility has decreased to the point where we're second-worst in the OECD. Meanwhile, more of our servicemen & women come from poorer backgrounds, maybe because of the end of the draft. Studies have found that when we have more veterans in Congress, we're less likely to go to war. And you have to be a millionaire to run for Congress. Does this mean that the dispassionate, strategic decisionmaking process you're advocating is less likely to be heeded?

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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Libya: You did not include the most important criterion for deciding if intervention militarily in foreign affairs should be entertained: Never send our troops to war if we do not have a president who has the mental and personality attributes to be a leader respected by our troops. Never in my lifetime has there been such a discrepancy between hubris of speech on the one hand and inaction and indecision on the other as is demonstrated by the current President. For example, less than a week ago he loudly proclaimed in public that Ghadafi's cruel murdering of Libyans "will not be tolerated." But since then Ghadaffi has gone on a killing rampage unprecedented even for him. I'm not particularly supportive myself for military intervention in any case but certainly not under the leadership of a man who is so given to bluster.

Gen. Wesley Clark:

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Gen. Clark remarks on Intervention in Libya: In his own words, Gen. Wesley Clark says "helping a Muslim land does not meet our basic requirements for intervention". Isn't that an implicit statement of support for a dictatorship & invitation for extremism let alone a sign of outright racism?

Gen. Wesley Clark: Mischievous comments like your demean the communications essential in democracies.

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Libya: How do we win the hearts and minds of the general Arab population when we allow another brutal dictator to "wipe out" the freedom fighters in his own country. Qaddafi is a terrorist; as the sponsor for the Lockerbie bombing, he is our enemy. How can we allow his atrocities?

Gen. Wesley Clark: look like justt another bunch of Europeans and Americans beating up on an Arab leader

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Intervening in Libya: By what logic or rule, if the aid we decided to give is"humanitarian" would we have to supply aid to both sides? What would force us to ignore all the documentation of the crimes against his own people that Gaddafi is committing and has committed for years and force us to provide aid to him as well as the people who are trying desperately to unseat him? This is a preposterous stand.

Gen. Wesley Clark: We need a clearly defined objective before we go in.

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Moral imperative?: In your article, general, you say that the US has no basis to intervene in the Libyan war. Your same argument could easily have been used about American intervention in World War Two during the early years. As you argued, we had no basis to support the Allies (ie Russia and Britain), but we still provided them with substantial material, financial, and moral support. We even did this when the US public was decidedly AGAINST any sort of intervention at all. President Roosevelt belived that that US was morally obligated to assist the allies. So why isn't this the case now? Why shouldn't we support the Libyans if it's the right thing to do?

Gen. Wesley Clark: was a tough decision for the country to make.

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Reprisals: The reprisals will be horrific. The freedom fighters will be wiped out before and if we implement a no fly zone.Won't Qaddafi, after he takes power again, think...the West if against me, well I will now welcome all terrorists a new safe haven? Time to strike back against the West. They are weak and will not strike back.

Gen. Wesley Clark: Your're right to be concerned about what happens next.Wish I had time to answer them all....but, stay engaged, this problem with Libya is likely to last a litle while longer!


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