Politics The Contenders: Wesley Clark
posted by February 23 at 9:33 AMon
Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s
apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.
When asked about his initial support for the Iraq war and the early intelligence indications of weapons of mass destruction, retired four star General Wesley Clark explained: ďWell, I think when you look at intelligence, you get indicators. Itís like a sort of gray goo as you look at it. You canít see through it, exactly, and if you try to touch it, it gets real sticky and you might actually interfere with the information that youíre getting back.Ē Which means that he’s yet another Democrat struggling to square his earlier statements about the war with what turned out to be the reality.
Wesley Kanne Clark was born in Chicago, IL in 1944. His mother was a Methodist bank secretary, and his father, Benjamin Kanne, was a Jewish Lawyer and Democratic Alderman. Upon the sudden death of Benjamin when Clark was 4 years old, his mother moved them to Little Rock, Arkansas. There his mother met and soon married a banker by the name of Viktor Clark. When he was 16, Wesley Clark officially took his step-fatherís last name. Clark was raised a Baptist, and did not find out about his Jewish heritage until he was in graduate school in England, when a member of his fatherís family tracked him down.
When he was 15, Clark was sent to a Military Boarding school in Tennessee for the year because Little Rock public schools were closed due to the desegregation battles there. In 1962, he went to West Point, where he graduated as the Valedictorian. He met his wife, Gertrude Kingston, while he was cadet at West Point. Clark then went on to a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. After basic training, he was promoted to captain, assigned to a position in the 1st Infantry Division, and then sent to Vietnam on May 21st, 1969.
In Vietnam, he first worked in a staff position, where he was awarded a Bronze star. A month into his first command, Clark was shot in a battle four times and was sent to Valley Forge Hospital in Pennsylvania to recuperate. He was awarded the Silver star for his conduct during that battle. He had converted to his wifeís faith of Catholicism while in Vietnam.
Clark then embarked on a long military career in which he commanded a number of different battalions in a number of different locations, including Kentucky, Colorado, Germany, and DC (where he worked for the Army Chief of Staff). Clark was promoted to full Colonel when he graduated from the National War College in 1983 and to Brigadier General in 1989 when he was in command of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. He held this and other training command posts in Virginia and Texas throughout the Gulf War. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1994 and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until 1996 when he was promoted to full General and named to the United States Southern Command, where he notably supported the notorious School Of the Americas (a combat training school for Latin American soldiers known for its graduates’ extreme brutality).
In 1997, Clark was appointed by Bill Clinton to the post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe which put him in charge of all of NATOís forces in Europe during the time of the Kosovo war. Following a UN resolution, Clark led the 1999 bombing campaign on Serbia which ended with the resignation of Slobodan Miloöević. Though the campaign had been successful, Clark was forced out of the military due to a personality conflict with his superiors, or possibly because another general needed his post in order not to be forced to retire himself.
In 2000, Clark took a position with an investment firm in Little Rock. He also served as a military commentator for CNN. Since 2005, he has served as a military and foreign affairs analyst for Fox news and, in 2006, he joined the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA as a senior fellow.
Clark is pro-choice, pro-death penalty, and against de-criminalizing marijuana. He thinks the surge is a mistake, and believes the UN should be in control in Iraq. Clark had a lot of support in his 2004 bid for Democratic nomination, most notably from liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, and Madonna. Although early polls showed him leading the democratic field of candidates, Clark chose not to attend the Iowa primaries because of Howard Dean’s assumed win there. After Dean and Gephart both stumbled in Iowa, Kerry and Edwards picked up steam, and Clark’s campaign was never fully able to recover.
Hereís one of his 2004 campaign ads in which he discusses the hip-hop group Outkast:
Posted by Eli’s Intern: Sage Van Wing
Previously: John Edwards, John McCain, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Sam Brownback, Christopher J. Dodd, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Huckabee, Tom Vilsack, Joe Biden, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Ron Paul, James Gilmore III, and Tom Tancredo.