Clark Being Gored As "Anti-War Waffler": Media Whores Up To Their Old Tricks

FAIR: Wesley Clark: The New Anti-War Candidate?
Record Shows Clark Cheered Iraq War as "Right Call"

Let's accept that the quotes attributed to Clark in the FAIR article are his. I've been able to obtain the London Times articles, reprinted in full, at the Free Republic, and the quotes there are accurate, so I'm willing to accept that FAIR's got Lexis access. ;-) Plus, Clark's October 2002 op-ed for Time, Let's Wait To Attack, has been mirrored at CNN. From the title alone, it's clear that for Clark, it's not a question of if, but when, and has always been the case. To describe him as a anti-war candidate is wrong. Critical of the war? Yes, as Bush carried it out. But anti-Operation Iraqi Freedom? Roll quotes from the Time article:

We must also have sustained public support, but so far, our national debate on Iraq has been upside down. The Administration announced its aim to change the regime in Baghdad before it made the case for action. To some, our government seemed to be seeking war as a preferred choice rather than as a last resort. We need a real debate to gain the full and informed support of the American people as we move ahead.

In the near term, time is on our side. Saddam has no nuclear weapons today, as far as we know, and probably won't gain them in the next few months. The U.S. has total military dominance of the region. Although Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, he has no long-range missiles with which to deliver them. Certainly, the clock is ticking, because Saddam may eventually acquire the nuclear weapons and delivery systems he seeks. Nonetheless, there is still time for dialogue before we act....

....After Saddam's government collapses, are we prepared to maintain order and prevent mayhem? Wouldn't we be wiser to arrange for police support from other nations and international organizations? And if, as a result of conflict, Iraq's economy collapses, wouldn't we like to have international organizations ready to assist in nation building? Afterward, when agencies from the Islamic world enter Iraq to help rebuild, won't we want to inhibit anti-Americanism and anti-Western sentiment by having thought through the many possible humanitarian problems before we are blamed for them?

The answer to all these questions is yes, if we have the time. Well, we do. The key issue about Iraq has never been whether weshould act if Saddam doesn't comply with U.N. resolutions anddisarm. Rather, the problems are how we should act, and when. As for the how, the answer is clear--multilaterally, with friends and allies, with every possible effort to avoid the appearance of yet another Christian and Jewish stab at an Islamic country, with force as a last resort, and with a post-conflict plan in place to assure that the consequences of our action do not supercharge the al-Qaeda recruiting machine. As for the when, let's take the time to plan, organize and do the whole job the right way. This will only take a few more weeks, and it's important. It's not just about winning a war--it's also about winning the peace.
Clark never was an outright opponent of the Iraqi invasion, and as far as I can tell, he's never claimed to be. He's got grave doubts about the way the Bush Administration was handling the approach to conflict, or was not planning the post-conflict details, but the basic idea of the Iraq invasion? He was on board.

Here's the closest FAIR can get to Clark claiming that he was against the war:
Hearing Clark talking to CNN's Paula Zahn (7/16/03), it would be understandable to think he was an opponent of the war. "From the beginning, I have had my doubts about this mission, Paula," he said. "And I have shared them previously on CNN."
Doubts about the mission? Is that doubts about whether it actually should have occured? No! It's doubts about the logistics and post-war matters, and these "doubts about the mission" are consistent throughout this time period.

Who's claiming he was? Howard Fineman is, for one, that shining example of media harlotry. Howard called him as anti-war as Dean. This is a setup - we are looking at the way BushCo is trying to take Clark down, the same way they took Gore down: misrepresent what was said, and crank up the Wurlitzer.

Here are some few quotes from the first London Times op-eds that FAIR didn't let you in on:
Already the scent of victory is in the air. Yet a bit more work and some careful reckoning need to be done before we take our triumph.

In the first place, the final military success needs to be assured. Whatever caused the sudden collapse in Iraq, there are still reports of resistance in Baghdad. The regime’s last defenders may fade away, but likely not without a fight. And to the north, the cities of Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul are still occupied by forces that once were loyal to the regime. It may take some armed persuasion for them to lay down their arms. And finally, the Baath party and other security services remain to be identified and disarmed.

Then there’s the matter of returning order and security. The looting has to be stopped. The institutions of order have been shattered. And there are scant few American and British forces to maintain order, resolve disputes and prevent the kind of revenge killings that always mark the fall of autocratic regimes. The interim US commander must quickly deliver humanitarian relief and re-establish government for a country of 24 million people the size of California. Already, the acrimony has begun between the Iraqi exile groups, the US and Britain, and local people....

If the alternative to attacking in March with the equivalent of four divisions was to wait until late April to attack with five, they certainly made the right call...

As for the diplomacy, the best that can be said is that strong convictions often carry a high price. Despite the virtually tireless energy of their Foreign Offices, Britain and the US have probably never been so isolated in recent times. Diplomacy got us into this campaign but didn’t pull together the kind of unity of purpose that marked the first Gulf War. Relationships, institutions and issues have virtually all been mortgaged to success in changing the regime in Baghdad. And in the Islamic world the war has been seen in a far different light than in the US and Britain. Much of the world saw this as a war of aggression. They were stunned by the implacable determination to use force, as well as by the sudden and lopsided outcome.

Now the bills must be paid, amid the hostile image created in many areas by the allied action....

Is this victory? Certainly the soldiers and generals can claim success. And surely, for the Iraqis there is a new-found sense of freedom. But remember, this was all about weapons of mass destruction. They haven’t yet been found. It was to continue the struggle against terror, bring democracy to Iraq, and create change, positive change, in the Middle East. And none of that is begun, much less completed.

Let’s have those parades on the Mall and down Constitution Avenue — but don’t demobilise yet. There’s a lot yet to be done, and not only by the diplomats.
All of this is still expressing his "doubts about the mission," right in the middle of congratulationing the troops and their leaders for the successful assault! There's even an acknowledgment of his being wrong about waiting in there - subtle, but it's there.

Didn't you see it? It's the statement that titles this thread...the "right call" meme. That's how misleading the subtitle of the FAIR article is. He didn't cheer the war. He accepted its necessity and expressed his doubts about how the war was being carried out. When one element of his doubts was proven wrong, he said that the people in charge, on that one issue, made the right call, and then cheered the successful conclusion of that phase of the war, especially the troops on the ground.

And yet Clark is being set up to be the candidate that "waffled" on the war. The meme will run, "Oh, he was all against it in the beginning. CNN couldn't have him on enough to slam the war. But when the troops got to rolling, he did a 180 and sucked up to the winners. And now that Dean is standing on top of the Democratic pack by slamming the war, Clark is right back on the naysayer's side."

When the truth is, he's consistently voiced his approval of the basic necessity for the war while expressing major doubts about the way the war was conducted. That's who General Clark really is. Go back and read the excerpts from October and April. It's the same message.

And don't believe everything that Howard Fineman tells you. ;-) Clark's Let's Wait To Attack
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