Hans' News and Politics Blog

A Blog of Conservative News, Politics, and Foreign Affairs

Monday, February 09, 2004

Why Wesley Clark won't be getting my vote

Many questions have been raised in the last few months on why Wesley Clark was relieved from his Command after the Kosovo war. The reason General Wesley Clark got fired was for repeatedly lying to the Pentagon, going behind their backs, promising Albright and Clinton, and the NATO allies that he can get Milosevic to cave within 1 or 2 days of limited airstrikes and without the need for a committment of ground troops. General Hugh Shelton called this "character and integrity issues", which sounds innocuous, but is considered very damning in military speak. It was Clark's promise to President Clinton that the war could be waged in the casualty-averse nature that caused Clinton's call for no ground troops. He later changing his position and calling for ground troops after we had been bogged down. The Pentagon was right in its assessment of what it takes to beat Milosevic, and Wesley Clark was wrong. But because he wanted the war he undermined the Pentagon's assessment by circumventing the chain of command and intervened directly with Clinton and Albright. We ended up in a conflict with insufficient resources and preparation. When we ran out of NATO approved targets after 2 days, he decided to simply bomb the already approved targets again - until we ran out of bombs. You see, since Clark had said it would only take 2 days at most, he never had stockpiles moved up for sustained bombing. When we tried to fly troops to Albania we couldn't, because all our transports were already committed to flying ammo into theater, due to Clark's poor planning. Then we ran into another problem: we had bad weather and couldn't aim at target on the ground. Of course, if we had SOF units in theater we could have inserted them to target them from the ground, but since Clark had promised we don't need troops, we didn't have any plans for their use, nor the authorization necessary, and had to stop bombing for a week. After resuming bombing we quickly ran out of high-value military target. Of course, we could have bombed Serbian troops, but that would have required low-flying aircraft or troops on the ground to direct the fire (as we did in Afghanistan). Since Clark had promised that we wont suffer casualties, this was deemed to risky. After all, enemy soldiers shoot back. So we switched tactics and did high altitude bombing of the civilian infrastructure. The NATO partners grew increasingly nervous about the drawn out conflict and challenged Clark's leadership. A friend of mine who sat in on Videoconferences Clark had described him of having a defeated and dejected appearance, he looked as if he were ready to give up and quit.

In the end it was the British and the State Department that saved us. The British committed ground forces in Macedonia (and less well known, SAS into Kosovo to guide airstrikes, we couldn't use ours because of Clark's previous promise, repeated by Clinton on national tv). We got the State Department to convince the Russians to mediate, where we dropped all the demands that Yugoslavia had previously rejected at Rambuillet, specifically:
1. No referendum on independence after 3 years
2. International force including Russians instead of NATO only
3. Permitting the return of Serbian customs agents, instead of removal of all Serbian government agencies.
4. and limiting KFOR jurisdiction to Kosovo, instead of free reign throughout Yugoslavia.

These were the 4 points Milosevic had previously rejected, and were cited as the reason for the failure of diplomacy prior to the war, and we gave up on ALL FOUR OF THEM!

That not being enough, the Russians double-crossed us and rushed troops into Pristina to seize their airfield in order to fly in more troops from Russia and to carve out a Serbian enclave in the north-east, just as the Serbs wanted all along, using the pretext of the second concession. Our State Department made a call to Rumania and got them to block their air space, leaving the Russian battalion in Pristina stranded. When the battle was essentially won, Clark ordered the British General to remove the Russians by force, which the British general refused since, being a rational man, he didn't want to start WWIII. A day later the Russians gave up since they were out of water, a somewhat more elegant solution than the one Clark proposed.

I worked on the Kosovo campaign and it was a horrible mess, Clark constantly made promises he couldn't possibly keep to get the nod to go ahead, when the Pentagon tried to stop him from making those promises, he ignored them and undermined them by going behind their backs.

After the war Clark tried to shift blame upon everyone but himself, as is evidenced in this article in the Washington Post.

Needless to say, I'm not very fond of Clark, and neither are most people in the Military who came in contact with him.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Website Counter
Hit Counters