Clark: There was no national debate over the policy coup by the ‘hardnosed’

Now that the Iraq war is over, people are starting to talk about the causes of it. Here is General Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club in 2007, in a book-promotion speech that commenter MRW has directed us to. Clark points some fingers, including at the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

9/11 happened. And what happened in 9/11 is we didn’t have a strategy, we didn’t have bipartisan agreement, we didn’t have American understanding of it and we had instead a policy coup in this country, a coup, a policy coup. Some hardnosed people took over the direction of American policy and they never bothered to inform the rest of us.

I went through the Pentagon ten days after 9/11…and an officer from the Joint Staff called me into his office and said, I would want you to know, he said, sir, we are going to attack Iraq. And I said, why? He said, we don’t know. He said I said, will they tie Saddam to 9/11? He said, no he said but I guess, it’s they don’t know what to do about terrorism and so the they think but they can attack states and they want to look strong is all, I guess they think if they take down a state, it will intimidate the terrorists and you know what its like that old saying, he said, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem has to be a nail.

Well I walked out of there pretty upset and then we attacked Afghanistan. I was pretty happy about that, we should have. And then I came back to the Pentagon about six weeks later, I saw the same officer, I said why why haven’t we attacked Iraq? We are still going to attack Iraq, he said, oh sir he says, it’s worse than that. He said he pulled up a piece of paper of his desk, he said, I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office, it says we are going to attack and destroy the governments in in seven countries in five years. We are going to start with Iraq and then we are going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran seven seven countries in five years. I said, is that a classified memo? He said, yes sir. I said; well don’t show it to me, he was about to show it to me, cause I wanna talk about it. And I I sat on this information for a long time, for about six or eight months, I was so stunned by this, I couldn’t begin to talk about it. And I couldn’t believe it would really be true, but that’s actually what happened. These people took control of the policy in the United States and I realized, then it came back to me, a 1991 meeting I had with Paul Wolfowitz you know, in 2001 he was Deputy Secretary of Defense, but in 1991 he was the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, it’s the number three position of the Pentagon.

And I had gone to see him when I was a one star general, I was commanding the National Training Centre.. I called and up there he was available, Scooter Libby came to the door, I met Scooter for the first time and he brought me in and I said to Paul and this is 1991, I said Mr. Secretary you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm. And he said, well yeah, he said but but not really, he said because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and we didn’t. And this was just after the Shia uprising in March of ’91 which we had provoked and then we kept our troops on the side lines and didn’t intervene.

And he said, but one thing we did learn, he said, we learned that we can use our military in the region in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us. He said, and we have got about five or ten years to clean up those all Soviet client regimes; Syria, Iran, Iraq, – before the next great super power comes on to challenge us…. It was a pretty stunning thing, I mean the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments, it’s not to sort of deter a a conflict, we are going to have invade countries and you know, my mind was spinning.

And I put that aside. It was like a nugget that you hold on to. This country was taken over by a group of people with a policy coup, Wolfowitz and Cheney and Rumsfeld and you could name a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for a New American Century. They wanted at us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control. It went back to those comments in 1991. Now did anybody tell you that? Was there a national dialogue on this? Did senators and congressman stand up and denounce this plan? Was there a full fledged American debate on it? Absolutely not; and there are still isn’t, and that’s why we are failing in Iraq, because Iran and Syria know about the plan.

All you have to do is read the the Weekly Standard and Bill Kristol and he blabber mouthed it out all over the world…. They could hardly wait to finish Iraq, so they could move in to Syria. It was like a lay down, oh our legions are going to go in there. This wasn’t what the American people voted George Bush in to office, well they didn’t actually vote him to office, but it wasn’t… what he campaigned on. He campaigned on a humble foreign policy, the most arrogant foreign policy in American history. He campaigned on no peace keeping, no nation building and here he is with Afghanistan and Iraqis; astonishing.

(Hat tip MW commenters anonymouscomments and MRW)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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