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Gen. Wesley Clark is considering whether to enter the 2004 presidential race
The Last Word: Wesley Clark
Marching on Washington?

    July 14 issue —  For a self-described “nonpolitical” person, Gen. Wesley K. Clark finds himself in an unusual position: considering a run for the White House. Earlier this year, a grass-roots organization started a campaign to persuade the four-star general to run in 2004. Clark recently received more than a thousand letters from supporters in New Hampshire urging him to run, and last week opened its national headquarters in Washington, D.C.  

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        FOR DEMOCRATS LOOKING to take back the Oval Office, Clark’s resume is a godsend—he spent 34 years in the military and served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander and commander in chief of the U.S. European Command from 1997 to May 2000. Clark has not yet decided to take the plunge, but his name has got America buzzing. NEWSWEEK’s Michael Hastings asked for his views on how Washington is handling its global role. Excerpts:
        HASTINGS: What could you bring to table that the other candidates haven’t?
I’ve never really addressed that issue. I’m considering this candidacy because a lot of people have confidence in me and have asked me to consider it. To me, it’s really about the issues. I saw it starting to go wrong before the [2000] election. I met with Condi Rice. She told me she believed that American troops shouldn’t be keeping the peace—they were the only ones who could kill people and conquer countries, and that’s what they should be focused on doing. What she was telling me [was] that she, as a potential Republican national-security adviser, didn’t support our engagement in Europe. So I saw it going wrong from there. Then, as the administration took office, I saw more and more what I believed were misunderstandings and missed opportunities.
Online Mail Call: Our Readers Discuss A Four-Star Contender for the White House

        Where does the United States go from here in Iraq?
        You have to define what success is, and then you have to work toward it. I would define it politically. Put in place some kind of Iraqi government that [has] some semblance of democracy. The first thing I’d be doing right now [is] calling provisional, national, regional and local councils together from all parties before elections are held. I would ask for their assistance, their ideas and their support in producing security in the region first and guarding the remaining economic infrastructure. I would lay out to them the limitations of the United States’ capabilities. I’d try to get the Iraqis increasingly involved in taking responsibilities. Put an Iraqi face on all the actions that you can and as much of the decision making as possible.
        Where does the United Nations fit in?
        I’ve always felt the United Nations should have been involved. You need the U.N. for legitimacy, to get nations to cough up forces. They’re putting the troops in harm’s way; they want some credit for it from their electorate. And they’re not going to get any credit by saying, “Hey, we’re really good friends with George W. Bush.” It has to be theUnited Nations.
        How is Iraq affecting the war on terror?
        If you talk to the people on the inside, they all [say] you can’t do everything at once. I know the administration says it thinks it can, but the honest truth is if you’re looking one place, you’re not looking someplace else. Ultimately, Washington is sort of a one-crisis town.
        What do you think of President Bush’s using war imagery as a political tool, like when he recently flew onto an aircraft carrier?
        The world expects something more of an American president than to prance around on a flight deck dressed up like [a] pilot. He’s expected to be a leader. That’s my fundamental issue with it. It doesn’t reflect the gravitas of the office. Furthermore, it’s a little phony.

Newsweek International Aug. 11 Issue
•  International Editions Front
•  Cover Story: Big Trouble
•  Special Section: Inventions With Impact
•  World View: Beware the Puppet Masters
•  Letter From America: Wrapped in the Flag
•  International Periscope & Perspectives
•  International Mail Call
•  The Last Word: Ariel Sharon
        Where does military strength fit in concerning U.S. power?
        It’s [a] question of three or four different things. A strong America is not strong only because of its military. Our strength comes from a robust, diverse economy and an engaged citizenry, and values, and a structure that other nations admire and emulate. The military is just one component of U.S. power.
        What should Washington do to patch things up with its old allies in Europe?
        In my vision of American national policy, we would seek the strongest possible linkage with Europe. I see a strong transatlantic alliance as the key fulcrum for all else America does in the world. I’m not sure the administration sees it that way.
        If you decide to run, will you be looking forward to the political realm?
        I love being in the business community. I’m thrilled at the prospect that someday I might be able to create jobs for other people. On the other hand, I’ve always liked the battle of ideas. And to me, competing in the political arena should be first and foremost about the ideas and perspectives that candidates would bring to the tasks, then following through on what’s been promised.
       © 2003 Newsweek, Inc.
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