diet coke for breakfast
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Posted by Jake
Wesley Clark's 'High Noon' Moment
This story about Wesley Clark might interest you in the midst of all the hype about his military experience.
On June 12, 1999, in the immediate aftermath of NATO's air war against Yugoslavia, a small contingent of Russian troops dashed to occupy the Pristina airfield in Kosovo. Clark was so anxious to stop the Russians that he ordered an airborne assault to confront these units--an order which could have unleashed the most frightening showdown with Moscow since the end of the Cold War. Hyperbole? You can decide. But British General Michael Jackson, the three-star general and commander of K-FOR, the international force organized and commanded by NATO to enforce an agreement in Kosovo, told Clark: 'Sir, I'm not starting world war three for you,' when refusing to accept his order to prevent Russian forces from taking over the airport. (Jackson was rightly worried that any precipitous NATO action could risk a confrontation with a nuclear- armed Russia and upset the NATO-led peacekeeping plan just getting underway with the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo.)
After being rebuffed by Jackson, Clark, according to various media reports at the time, then ordered Admiral James Ellis, the American in charge of NATO's southern command, to use Apache helicopters to occupy the airfield. Ellis didn't comply--replying that British General Jackson would oppose such a move. Had Clark's orders been followed, the subsequent NATO- negotiated compromise with the Russians--a positive element in the roller- coaster relationship between Moscow and Washington, which eventually incorporated Russian troops into peacekeeping operations--might well have been undermined.
Indeed, it is believed in military circles that Clark's Pristina incident was the final straw that led the Pentagon to relieve him of his duties (actually retire him earlier). Clark had also angered the Pentagon brass--and Secretary of Defense William Cohen in particular--with his numerous media appearances and repeated public requests for more weapons and for more freedom to wage the Kosovo war the way he wanted (with ground troops). At one point, according to media reports, Defense Secretary Cohen, through Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton, told Clark to "get your fucking face off of TV.
1. So Bush is the unilateralist. Right.
2. He better hope that story does get around or that military experience he keeps touting will become a liability. People like commanders, but not usually incompetent ones.