Why was General Clark fired?
Was Wesley Clark removed from his job Supreme Allied Commander,
Europe for lack of integrity and character issues? I denied it. Randy Black
says: "Retired General Hugh Shelton was asked the same question after giving
a talk at a college in California. Shelton, the former chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, was Clark’s boss in 1999 when Clark was unceremoniously
told that he was being removed from his position as Supreme Allied Commander,
Europe. “I’ve known Wes for a long time,” Shelton said. “I
will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity
and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. . . ."
Another view, supporting your statement: Clark was fired by Secretary of Defense William Cohen shortly after the war endedand, just to make sure Clark didn't try to make an end-run, the chiefs leaked the firing to the Washington Post. The reasons for his dismissal seem clear: Clark had pushed a policy that Cohen and the chiefs had opposed (and, even after the war, continued to oppose); he went around them in his advocacy; he was too close, for the chiefs' taste, to Clinton (in signing Clark's release papers, Clinton was led to believe the move was a normal succession, not a dismissal); and, toward the end of the war, he pushed for a ground-invasion option that none of the Pentagon's top officials supported in the slightest.
I wonder what General Sullivan thinks about this matter?"
RH: Until I receive convincing evidence that Clark was fired for lack of integrity,
I will refuse to believe it, since it is immoral to throw such accusations around
without basis. It is bearing false witness. General Shelton was a product of
the past, when soldiers were expected to obey their superiors without question.
That changed after World War II when soldiers accused of war crimes gave as
an excuse that they were simply obeying orders. Clinton was commander in chief.
All the evidence I have is that General Clark is an honorable man, and that
the present campaign to smear him is part of the present disgraceful political
Why was General Wesley Clark fired? General Robert Gard says: "General Joe Ralston, Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs, was the favored candidate for Chairman (apologies to the ladies), when Shelton eventually was appointed. When it was disclosed that Ralston had an affair much earlier with a fellow student at the National War College, even though he then was separated from his wife, the existing political climate precluded his nomination as Chairman. Ralston agreed to accept a second term as Vice Chair. Ralston, a very capable officer with political savvy, earned the friendship and support of Secretary of Defrndr Cohen. When Ralston's second term as Vice Chair was up, he was prepared to retire. Cohen wanted him to stay on. Ralston said that the only position that would keep him on active duty was SACEUR. This required the departure of Wesley Clark earlier than the scheduled completion of his term.
Shelton is not in a position to to hurl moral thunderbolts at Clark for deficiencies in character. Shelton, a special warfare specialist, probably didn't appreciate the dual hat of SACEUR that required his involvement politically as well as militarily. Moreover, the record is clear that Shelton supported his political superiors concerning the readiness of the US military when it was evident that there were serious deficiencies. Clark was caught in the same situation that caused the removal of General Andrew Goodpaster from the SACEUR position when President Gerald Ford needed to get Al Haig out of the White House". RH: This sounds just like a university.
Was Wesley Clark removed from his job Supreme Allied Commander, Europe for lack of integrity and character issues? I denied it. Randy Black says: "I am not saying that you are wrong, or that I am right. You are certainly in a better position due to your experience and friends on the inside to make such a determination. We, of course, do have the photo of General Clark exchanging hats with a Serb general. [RH: This reminds me of the photos of John Kerry and Jane Fonda. I do not know what it proves, RH].
Here is another quote from the New York Times that supports your position: "One lingering question about General Clark's résumé is why his NATO tour came to an abrupt end in 2000. He was not fired by the White House, as some accounts have suggested. Rather, former officials of the Clinton administration say, his tour was cut short by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Gen. H. Hugh Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were still smarting over their differences with the NATO commander."
I suppose that my principal objection to Clark the Presidential candidate is that he declared as a Democratic candidate ONLY because the Republicans didn’t pay him enough homage. He was a Democrat of convenience. I recall General Clark stating that if Carl Rove had returned his calls, he would have been on the side of President Bush.
And another that supports your position: "After Clark entered the presidential race, Shelton publicly attacked Clark's "integrity and character." Shelton has since refused to explain his choice of words, but his opinion has been endorsed by several retired generals. Clark defenders, including Albright and retired Army Gen. Don Kerrick, say Shelton's attack is "ridiculous" and untrue. Clark "stood for personal integrity," said Chris Hernandez, a retired Army warrant officer who led Clark's security detail at NATO. "There were generals out there who really abused the system. If a general left his gloves some place, he would send a helicopter crew to get them. That wasn't Clark." "I have known him almost his entire adult life," said retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a former head of the Drug Enforcement Agency. "And he is one of the most extraordinarily talented persons I have ever known. He is a man of enormous integrity and good judgment.">>
And then this: Newsweek magazine's Howard Fineman reports that in January, 2003, Wesley Clark told associates that, "I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls." Carl Rove is one of President Bush's top political advisors. Unfortunately for Clark, the White House has logged every call received since G. W. Bush took office in January, 2001. The logs prove that Clark never called Carl Rove.
And this: A few memorable -- even unforgettable -- words of Wesley Clark:
1. On May 11, 2001, speaking to the Pulaski County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in Little Rock, Arkansas:
"And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice... people I know very well -- our president George W. Bush. We need them there."
2. On President Reagan: Words of Wesley Clark: "We were really helped when President Ronald Reagan came in. I remember non-commissioned officers who were going to retire and they re-enlisted because they believed in President Reagan. That's the kind of President Ronald Reagan was. He helped our country win the Cold War. He put it behind us in a way no one ever believed would be possible. He was truly a great American leader. And those of us in the Armed Forces loved him, respected him, and tremendously admired him for his great leadership."
3. On President George Bush: Words of Wesley Clark:"President George Bush had the courage and the vision... and we will always be grateful to President George Bush for that tremendous leadership and statesmanship."
4. American military involvement overseas: Words of Wesley Clark: "Do you ever ask why it is that these people in these other countries can't solve their own problems without the United States sending its troops over there? And do you ever ask why it is the Europeans, the people that make the Mercedes and the BMW's that got so much money can't put some of that money in their own defense programs and they need us to do their defense for them?"
"And I'll tell you what I've learned from Europe is that are a lot of people out in the world who really, really love and admire the United States. Don't you ever believe it when you hear foreign leaders making nasty comments about us. That's them playing to their domestic politics as they misread it. Because when you talk to the people out there, they love us. They love our values. They love what we stand for in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."
RH: These quotes were clearly selected to harm Wesley Clark's standing. There
is little to commend in being a lifelong Republican or Democrat. The sensible
thing is to compare policies and individuals and choose the better ones, even
though one may harbor no ill feelings toward the others. This is what Clark
did. As for the telephone call, government records are notoriously poor, and
I would not make too much of it. However, I have as usual an open mind and will
change my opinion if presented with convincing evidence.
Ronald Hilton -