General Clark's the Wrong Kind of General

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Mr. Fleming's new book, The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I, was published by Basic Books on June 1. He is a member of the corporate board of HNN.

Once upon a time -- in 1920, to be exact -- another general ran for president. His name was John J. Pershing. He had far better credentials than General Wesley Clark. He had commanded two million men in battle against the most formidable adversary yet seen in the world's wars, the imperial German army -- and he had won. Air, artillery, infantry, supply, Pershing had orchestrated them all to bring off an improbable victory. When he returned to America, Congress conferred on him the unprecedented title, General of the Armies.

Soon after the armistice in November 1918, various VIPs nominated Pershing for president. When he revealed he was a Republican, the vice president of the National Republican League thought he was a cinch to repeat General Ulysses S. Grant's performance in 1868. One ex-senator and old friend urged both political parties to nominate Pershing on a national reconciliation ticket in 1920.

Pershing's father-in-law, Senator Francis Warren, advised him to deny any ambition to be president. That was the best way to stir a groundswell. Pershing went to some lengths to deny he was a candidate. He told one lady friend that he would be a "damned fool" to run for president. But could not resist comparing himself to other generals who had reached the White House. Besides Grant, there was Zachary Taylor, thanks to the Mexican War, and Andrew Jackson thanks to the War of 1812. Not to mention George Washington, whose victory in the War for Independence made him the inevitable first president.

General John J. Pershing - Portrait from Library of Congress

Pershing did not object when old friends from Nebraska, which he considered his home state, formed a "Pershing for President Club" and began touting him as the state's favorite son. For the first few months of 1920, Pershing acted like a candidate, though he never said a word about running. Secretary of War Baker, either wittingly or unwittingly cooperating, sent the General of the Armies on a nationwide inspection tour.

Pershing brought along many of his AEF favorites, and the trip took on the character of a royal progress. In thirty-two states, local VIPs held receptions and banquets to welcome the conquering heroes. Pershing turned on the charm, wowing women, kissing children and greeting AEF veterans with hearty handshakes. In speeches he hailed American patriotism and urged voters to support Universal Military Training (UMT) so America would never again be caught unprepared to fight a war.

Unfortunately, the general had liabilities. Pershing was President Woodrow Wilson's appointee and Republicans learned to loathe Wilson in the brawl over ratifying the Versailles Peace Treaty. The president sneered publicly at their "bungalow minds" and accused them of "breaking the heart of the world." A Pershing nomination could be viewed as an oblique endorsement of Wilson. By 1920, this was something most Republicans were unwilling to do. Pushing UMT was also not the best political move in the atmosphere of growing disillusion with the war, as it began to dawn on many people that the vengeful Versailles Peace Treaty made a mockery of Wilson's idealistic Fourteen Points that would guarantee world peace.

On April 20, Nebraska held a Republican presidential primary. Pershing's friends launched a vigorous campaign, replete with mailings, admiring articles by selected reporters and heavy newspaper advertising. The other candidates were liberal Senator Hiram Johnson of California, General Leonard Wood, whom Wilson had refused to send to France because he was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Governor Frank Lowden of Illinois. Pershing finished a dismal fifth.

Undaunted, his friends persuaded the general to make a statement at a Washington D.C. reception in his honor. Pershing said he was not seeking the nation's highest office but would not "decline to serve" if the people summoned him. The Washington Post made it a page one headline. A few days later, the Literary Digest reported a nationwide poll on eight possible Republican nominees. Pershing ranked eighth.

Still the general refused to abandon his by now almost clandestine candidacy. As the Republican convention loomed, he wrote his old friend Charles Dawes, one of his top civilian aides in Europe, urging him to make sure someone would be on hand to push his name to the front if the delegates deadlocked. The delegates deadlocked briefly and in a smoke-filled room chose Senator Warren Harding of Ohio. Pershing's name was not even mentioned.

The general should have paid more attention to the many other generals who ran for the ultimate prize without success. After the victorious Mexican War, Army commander in chief Winfield Scott, known as the thinking man's soldier, ran against Democrat Franklin Pierce, who had served briefly in the war as a brigadier of volunteers. Scott lost badly. In 1864 General George McClellan ran against Abraham Lincoln. He too lost ingloriously. In 1880, General Winfield Scott Hancock, the hero of Gettysburg, ran against James Garfield, who had a mediocre record as a general of volunteers. Garfield won.

Then there is General Douglas MacArthur, who was repeatedly mentioned as a presidential candidate after he won fame in World War I. Franklin D. Roosevelt reportedly considered him his most dangerous potential opponent, which was one reason why he sent him to the farthest reaches of the South Pacific during World War II. When Truman fired MacArthur for mishandling the Korean War in 1951, MacArthur returned home to hysterical acclaim, with tickertape parades in major American cities and frantic calls for him to run for president. But congressional hearings soon established that Truman had good reason to fire him -- and worse, the general did not have any magic formula for winning the Korean War. When General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man who defeated Adolph Hitler's armies, announced he was available as a candidate, MacArthur receded into the shadows.

What does this quick trip through the generals who ran for president reveal? It demonstrates that a certain type of general is able to win presidential elections, and another type is an almost certain loser. With the margin for error that all generalizations require, it becomes clear that the winners all fit Arthur Schlesinger's brilliant division of America's soldiers into roundheads and cavaliers. Roundheads eschew military glory and lay no claim to brilliance. They are all small d democrats. Cavaliers are all aristocrats, in love with glittering uniforms and orotund appeals to glory and patriotism. General Winfield Scott is the prototype cavalier. He designed his own gorgeous uniforms; the soldiers called him "Old Fuss and Feathers." The other major general in the Mexican War, Zachary Taylor, wore no visible signs of rank and sat his horse, Old Whitey, sidesaddle at the Battle of Buena Vista, eyeing the charging Mexicans before ordering the West Pointers in command of the artillery: "doubleshot your guns and give them hell." Ulysses Grant, who served in Mexico, was an Old Zach clone; there was not a sign of gold braid on his uniform and instead of soaring appeals to patriotism and heroism, he said: "We shall fight it out along this line if it takes all summer." Ike Eisenhower struck the same lowkeyed "let's get this job done" note World War II.

The bottom line of this rapid survey would seem to be fatal to General Wesley Clark. Like MacArthur and Pershing, he was a star at West Point, graduating first in his class. (Grant was in the lower middle of his class, Eisenhower likewise. Taylor skipped the whole thing.) During Clark's "war" in Kosovo, he was extraordinarily fond of getting his picture in the papers and on TV in his well tailored uniform. To the enlisted men this spells a damning phrase: glory hound. Moreover his war was an elitist operation in which all the fighting was done by a handful of pilots and techies in charge of cruise missiles. No large numbers of enlisted men served under Clark and learned to like his ways. Add it all up and Wesley's appeal to the American voters, outside the corps of desperate Democrats searching for someone to beat George Bush, is close to zero.

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FRANCISCO - 12/12/2003


As a Colombian American, but more as Colombian born, history, especially present history, is totally upside down. If the individual does not belong to the families descendants of the European elite, he or she tends to think more of the “what ifs” as a sort of escape from the brutal reality of his or her life.

World wide, inhuman conditions have been established by European empires around the world, usually ruled by exclusive royal families and a social group of nobles or oligarchs who have the power of their respective governments or systems of exploitations of other lands and other peoples.

The biggest global empire in its the time, the Spanish, the French, the English and lately, the American, have a common history of racism, exploitation, extermination and wars.

The empires that a Colombian-American has had to experience are the Spanish and the American.The “what if” that comes to mind to Colombians, is the what if Francisco Miranda, the first Colombian, had not existed, or had died early in his life without making his mark in history? Or better, if he had been appreciated as he should have been, the capital of the nation would not be “DC” but Francisco!

I will transport the kind reader to a place and time where his life happened.

Ever since the discovery or “rediscovery” of the Western Hemisphere by the Spaniard in 1492, under the orders of what some consider “the person of the second millennium”, Queen Isabel, the lands had been divided by the major European Crowns.

Initially, the Spanish and the Portuguese divided the continent. A few centuries later, the Dutch, the French and last but not least, the English participated in the conquest, elimination and or exploitation of the Native Americans. The last two empires that came to the picture, decided to fight for the control of the northern part of the Western Hemisphere.

The cost of the French and English War forced these two rivals to piracy against each other and everybody near them. As a consequence, the colonies were taxed to pay for the war.

The thirteen British colonies used to constant fighting expanded the war from the Indians to the British. Boston, New York, the rebel capital Philadelphia and even the southern colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia fell to the most powerful army of
the time, the British.

After the successful campaigns against the Colonial Army and with the support of the southern royalists, African slaves and Indian auxiliaries, the British fell strong enough to attack the Spanish and finish the Spanish presence from the northern continent once and for all. As soon as New Orleans would fall into British hands, the rebels could be surrounded, encircled by way of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The entire northern continent could be ridden from enemy Spanish, French and rebels.

For this purpose, the most formidable British military forces in the Western Hemisphere of the times were assembled. The navy was under the command of Vice-Admiral Parker, and the army under Major General Campbell.

Spain had sent an “expendable force” to confront her most powerful rival in what appeared to be a hopeless fight. Spain knew that for six years the northern rebels had lost every major battle and city including the southern lands of the thirteen colonies.
Spain’s actions were designed as a delaying tactic while reconstituting its main, elite forces in the colonies of the south.

A non-Spaniard, who commanded a mostly non-Spaniard army, confronted the British. His name was Francisco Miranda. He had been born in the most important Spanish colony, the New Kingdom of Granada. Francisco did not consider himself a Spaniard and like the northern rebels, he considered himself a citizen of a future new, independent country of the entire Western Hemisphere.

Colonel Miranda’s fight was not the delaying maneuver planned by the Spanish Empire. He thought of liberating the northern portion of the Western Hemisphere from the British and then the southern part of the Western Hemisphere from the Spanish. This fight was, his life’s purpose.He landed with his fellow Creole army on the Island of Santa Rosa near Pensacola on March 3, 1781. The most ferocious fight that the British had seen yet followed, for two months.

Unexpectedly, the Creoles emerged victorious. The British raised a white flag to ask for a negotiated surrender. Under the terms of capitulation, Pensacola, Mobile, Alabama, and Florida were secured for the Spanish Empire.

Miranda and his army’s intent of liberation made, unknowingly, the most important and decisive contribution to the successful outcome of the revolution. He collected among rebels in the Caribbean 30.000 gold coins and hired the fleet of the French pirate, Francois de Grasse to block the British Fleet in the Chesapeake Bay. The British Navy
was on its way to rescue the British Army that had retreated to Yorktown in the colony of Virginia.

Francisco Miranda and Francois de Grasse created a window of opportunity offered to Washington for what became, at last, after more than half a dozen years of struggle, the final battle of the revolution.

The British government investigated what had happened. Lord Thomas Pownall, Governor of Trinidad and head of the British secret services for the Western Hemisphere, informed Prime Minister William Pitt, that Francisco Miranda had been the culprit of the decisive victory of the Continental Army and the liberty of the colonies. Overnight Francisco Miranda had become the Founding Father of the Founder Fathers of the new country, a sort of Fabius, the Roman General whose strategy defeated in the Second Punic War the Carthaginian Empire’s armies under the command of Hannibal.

When Francisco Miranda met George Washington in Philadelphia on the 8th and the 9th of December 1783 to discuss the liberation of the Spanish colonies, Washington snubbed and humiliated the Creole Miranda. Washington did not think that the former British colonies had any cultural affinity with the Spanish Kingdoms to become brothers and to form a new country, Colombia, of the entire Western Hemisphere. Miranda did not know that in 1750’s when Washington’s elder brother, Lawrence, was playing pirate with the then chief pirate Vernon, Lawrence suffered a humiliating defeat to a Spanish called Blas. Blas blasted Vernon’s flotilla of pirates to oblivion in Cartagena. Lawrence counseled his younger brother George, prior to his death, “do not ever go out to see against the Spaniards. You’ll do better getting rich fighting Indians and owning their lands”. George followed Lawrence advice and became the richest private land owner in the Northern Hemisphere.

Washington’s selfish personal reasons motivated disagreement with Miranda’s dream.
Washington was the wealthiest landowner in Virginia and planned to expand his conquest west to the Ohio territories, without risking what had been gained in a new war with the Spanish Empire, an empire so vast that its global possessions spanned all twenty four of the world’s time-zones. Washigton’s narrow mindedness, ingratitude, jealousy and rigid pragmatism wounded Miranda’s pride and plan of liberating the entire hemisphere. Washington was also getting back to somebody from “Colombia” the same area where decades before his older brother Lawrence had been humiliated in a battle in Cartagena, now a city of Colombia. Washington had nourished a life time hatred to the Spanish and could not distinguish between a former enemy of Lawrence’s and a present “Colombian friend and allied” that Francisco Miranda was. Miranda had been the obstetrician who delivered the baby new nation conceived by the Founding Fathers in their mother Congress. Washington could not give back the credit he stole from Francisco of being the Father of the Country. George was following Lawrence’s legacy of piracy but at a higher and more sophisticated level.

Thus, Miranda spent the coldest winter of his life. He left Philadelphia disappointed on January 16, 1784 for New York. There, Miranda met and befriended Alexander Hamilton and discussed with him his plans of liberation for the Spanish colonies and how a type of federalism and financial and economic unity could result in this new country of Colombia. Even though Hamilton sympathized with Miranda, Hamilton joined his commander in chief and agreed with the pragmatism of his decision. Hamilton expanded Miranda’s idea of federalism and financial structure for the new republic, national bank, with Madison.

The further north Miranda went, the more illustrative the cultural differences became obvious to him. Miranda visited the president of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut on July 25, 1784. He studied and discussed with him the Blue Laws of New Haven dating from 1639 which ordered the observance of the Sabbath under penalty of fines and lashes for any violator who did not attend church on Sunday or who would kiss his wife in public. For an atheist and agnostic, as Miranda was, the Blue Laws were as barbaric as he had ever known. Miranda thought that the revolution would not be complete until such laws were eliminated. The Yale president disagreed.

Miranda continued his journey north in what he described as the dullest period in his life.
He met with Samuel Adams on September 16, 1784 and the President of Harvard University, Dr. James Lloyd on October 18, 1784. Miranda found the usual New England disagreements about hemispheric solidarity with these gentlemen on cultural and political grounds.

Miranda visited Salem, the site of the infamous witch hunts and the lashing of inhabitants for failure to attend church. He found the preacher Murray barbarous, ignorant when the preacher called for the extermination of Mohammedans, Catholics and the Pope or “antichrist”.

Miranda’s dreams of emancipation for Colombia died among the people of New England with their crass fanaticism, puritanical laws and lack of appreciation for his contribution to their liberties. He had gained acceptance and friendship of the Founding Fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, etc, but not their support, recognition nor appreciation.

Otherwise, the capital of America may well have been named Francisco Miranda. Instead, his name is not found in any street or plaza in the United States. It is necessary to travel to Paris to see his name engraved in the Arc of Triumph among the others who rendered glorious service to Liberty. Interestingly, the neither the name of George Washington nor of any of the “Founding Fathers” above is mentioned in the Arc.

None of the fifty states has any memorial in his name. Puerto Rico has a statute in the same spot where Francisco Miranda was handed to the Spaniards. He never saw liberty again.

The present American Empire borders limit in the Rio Grande, reinforced with a steel wall taller, longer and more powerful than the Berlin Wall, reinforced with police, army, helicopters, coast guard, vigilantes etc, and not in the Patagonia as Francisco dreamed. And a jet trip from coast to coast does not take place from San Francisco to Francisco, as it could have been. But the “plus ultra”, onwards and upwards and “non-sufficit orbis”, the world is not enough, do apply in the American Empire of the third millennium.


Another Francisco, who won the civil war in Spain, could be told in “his panic” month.
Francisco Franco after three years of bloody civil war and about a million dead o each side, finally won with the help of the fascists planes of the Italian Mussolini and the Condor Legion of the Nazi Luftwaffe of Hitler.
Hitler had overrun Poland in less than a month in September of 1939 and by early 1940 had overrun France, and invaded Checkoeslovakia, Austria, the low countries and the rest of Europe except England which had been bombed “to hell”. All that Hitler needed to do was to invade Africa, Egypt, the Suez Canal, take control of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and eventually India to take over the British Empire.

There was one stone in Hitler’s shoe, the Rock of Gibraltar, which was taken and armed by the British. Franco who owed his position to Hitler was ordered by Hitler to take Gibraltar back to Spain. Franco refused on grounds that the Spanish were tired of war. Hitler offered to take it if the Wermach or his army’s mechanized infantry and tanks could cross Spain. Franco refused to allow the 100 divisions of heavy mechanized army to come to Spain. Hitler did not like to be antagonized and threatened to invade and take the rock and Spain anyway. The rock was in his way to continue his plans to conquer the world. Franco refused.

Hitler had to park his army on the Spanish border while Rommel conquered Africa.
But the British and later the Americans were able to attack Field Marshall Rommel from the rock of Gibraltar.

Hitler did not invade Spain because he knew of the defeat the Spanish had inflicted to the then most powerful army in the world which had already conquered Europe about a hundred years earlier under the Emperor of the French, Napoleon, and Hitler did not want to repeat Napoleon’s mistake. Franco threatened Hitler with “guerrilla” if Hitler’s army were to invade Spain.

During WWII, about a million Jews took refuge in Spain under the Nazis’ noses and Franco is credited for saving the most Jews than anybody in history, for free, without receiving a cent from anybody. (America and FDR had refused to allow Jews from Europe on account of American theory of Eugenics)

Steve Brody - 11/28/2003

DC, don't support Clark. I don't like Clark. He's a weasel.

But spreading misinformation about Waco and Posse Comitatus isn't the way to oppose him.

Steve Brody - 11/25/2003

DC, IMO, you’re wrong on the facts.

The facts are these:

1) People with guns did not “invade” the property of the Davidians. The ATF came with two warrants. The first was a search warrant to search for illegal weapons (to wit, fully automatic weapons). The second was an arrest warrant for Koresh. The ATF did come armed and in force, as you would expect a group of law enforcement officers coming to conduct an arrest and search for automatic weapons to be.

2) The “few” who surrendered were not treated harshly. During the 51-day siege, crisis negotiators were able to gain the release of 36 Davidians, including 21 children. All were well treated. In fact, many were video taped during and after their surrender and the tape was sent in to convince other Davidians that they too would be well treated.

3) The “invaders” did not escalate from guns to tanks. The tanks were never used offensively against the Davidians. Originally the FBI, to move about the compound safely, used Bradley Fighting Vehicles. During a conversation with a negotiator, a Davidian commented that the Davidians had “stuff” that would blow away a Bradley. The Bradley’s were replaced with Abrams tanks because they are much sturdier. They were never used against the Davidians.

4) The Davidians were not “minding their own business”. The Davidians were collecting semi-automatic weapons and illegally converting them to fully automatic weapons. Machine guns. These are illegal. After the fire, the FBI asked the Texas Rangers to take over the investigation, in order to avoid any charges of cover up. The Rangers recovered over 40 illegal machine guns from the compound. Also recovered were silencers, hand grenades and components for modifying practice grenades to live grenades.

This matter was investigated by a special prosecutor and was the subject of a civil suit in Texas. What emerged from these proceedings indicate that the Davidians opened fire on the ATF as the Agents began dismounting from trailers they were being transported in. A shoot out then ensued and ATF and Davidians were killed. A siege developed which lasted 51 days. Eventually the FBI used a combat engineering vehicle to bash holes in the Mt Carmel buildings and pumped CS tear gas into the compound. The Davidians responded by setting fire to the building. In the conflagration, 88 people died.

There was an atrocity committed, DC. By David Koresh and the others who refused to come out for 51 days, and then, when surrender became inevitable, chose to murder the children and commit suicide.

DC Wornock - 11/23/2003

I don't believe Clark should be charged with violating any law. If he was involved with Waco, I don't deny that he may have followed the law. However, following the law is not equal to doing the right thing. Sometimes it is wrong to follow the law.

Therefore, to get my support, I want to believe a candidate for president will do the right thing and not just blindly follow the law.

DC Wornock - 11/23/2003

My point was that I was considering supporting Clark until he refused to provide any information or to even reply about any of his involvement with Waco. Many innocent people died at Waco and in my opinion that makes the people involved guilty of atrocities. I cannot support a candidate for president that I believe may be guilty of atrocities and, since Clark did not reply and refuses to address the issue, I cannot be certain that he was not involved and partly responsible.

These are the facts:

1. People with guns invaded the property of Branch Dividians.
2. The few that surrendered were dealt with harshly.
3. Eventually the invaders escalated from guns to guns and tanks and the Branch Dividians, including the children, died in a fiery death.
4. The Branch Dividians were minding their own business and if the Branch Dividians had not been invaded they would have lived.

Many people believe in the Divine right of Kings (the King can do no wrong) or the Divine right of Government. These same people believe that they, and expecially the state, have a right to meddle in the affairs of people minding their own business in the privacy of their own property. They will never admit to any argument or facts to contrary. I realize that it is pointless to discuss the facts of Waco with these people. However, I happen to have a different opinion.

Without discussing the merits of the Governments action at Waco, I hope that people that may be persuaded that Waco was an atrocity, will learn that Clark may have been involved and use the information to help them decide if they should support Clark.

Lloyd Drako - 11/9/2003

Note that Fleming did not say Clark would make a bad President, only that he's not the sort of general who tends to get elected President.

Josh Greenland - 11/7/2003

Interesting post, Mr. Brody, and I hope to reply to it at the length it requires when I have more time than now, but you did miss one point. I was hoping you could answer this one:

"Josh, I had good reasons for following this and remember the details quite clearly."

What were those reasons?

Steve Brody - 11/7/2003

“Ah, VDS. I read that they had a number of ongoing federal contracts at the time of their determination. “,

Ahso. A very competent British firm, Vector Data Systems, experts in the field of infrared, may have other Government contracts. Shocking! So, you imply that they can not be trusted. Do you have any facts to support this, Josh? Do you have any evidence? Do you have anything, other than your skepticism?

“Somehow it isn't surprising that the federal inquiries found for the federal government. I'm not saying I know for sure they were wrong in every particular, but there are grounds to be suspicious of them",

And what grounds would there be, Josh? If you are going to imply that VDS’s analysis wasn’t above board, then be specific. Do you have any reason for your skepticism or is it just convenient to be skeptical? You know, so you don’t have to admit that you may be wrong about Waco.

“Many who've spent more time studying Waco than I have don't believe the government's Waco conclusions. “,

Yes, and many more, who have studied the evidence, agree with the Federal Judge and Jury that the Branch Davidians were responsible for the fire and subsequent deaths.

“An expert for the defense (federal government), I assume. And what did the expert for the prosecution say?”,

Josh, let me explain how it works in Federal Court. In a civil wrongful death suit there is no prosecution. There is the Plaintiff (in this case the Branch Davidians), the Defense (in this case the Government) and the Court (the Judge). As I posted in my last comment, the Court appointed FLIR expert concluded that the flashes were caused by “glint” off of building debris. Court appointed, Josh. Appointed by the neutral Magistrate, Josh. Not the Government, not the Branch Davidians, the Judge. The Government and the Davidians both had an opportunity to object to the Court appointed FLIR expert. He was acceptable to both sides.

Frankly, I don’t think the Davidians presented any FLIR expert testimony, but I don’t remember for sure. At any rate, the Jury and the Judge apparently believed the Court appointed FLIR expert, the audio tapes of the Davidians setting the fire, the Texas Rangers, who found four cans of Coleman fuel and a burned torch in the compound, and the arson expert who concluded that the fire had been set from inside the compound.

“Your original claim was not that the documentary had information first publicized by a militia fan, but that "“Waco: Rules of Engagement” was a propaganda piece, put out by a Militia movement adherent."

“So are you saying W:tRoE wasn't made by a "Militia movement adherent," or that it was?”

You’re right, Josh. What I meant to say is that WtRoE was made by a right wing wacko who makes his living hawking his poorly researched video tapes and has accused Hillary Clinton of ordering the final Waco assault in his latest Waco video, “Waco-A New Revelation.” I also should of said that he used evidence and analysis that had been first been used by a right wing militia adherent AND had been totally discredited.

I should have pointed out that if anybody has a reason to keep the myth of the “flame throwing tank” alive, it is Mike Mcnulty, who would have to go back to his day job of selling insurance if he did admit that there was no “flame throwing tank”.

My bad.

Incidentally, Josh, I noticed that you glossed right over the fact that Mcnulty now admits that his FLIR “expert”, Ed Allard, was wrong when he states in W:tRoE that the FBI infrared video cameras would not pick up glint from sunlight. Mcnulty admits that the cameras could pick up glint and that Allard had “overstated” his position.

“. if you have a problem with the comparison of Wesley Clark with the Nazis, you should write to John Cuepublic/Edmund Birkenstock about that. He's the person who created that straw man.”

Josh, it looks like you added a little straw to the strawman yourself:

“ In essence, you're saying everything's okay with Clark at Waco because he "vas only followink orderz.", Josh Greenland, 11/1/2003.

“Because Clark didn't kill millions of Jews or adherents of other "major" (worthy?) Religions, that doesn't make him blameless in the death of the scores of Davidians, nor does it mean the Nuremberg rule can't apply to him.”, Josh Greenland, 11/1/2003.

Josh, I'm not defending Clark. But there was no Posse Comitatus violation, there was no "flame throwing tank" and comparisons of Clark to the Nazi's ("vas only followink orderz") are way over the top

Ralph Luker - 11/5/2003

Dear Bill, In addition to Professor Dresner's points, I suspect that you simply do not recognize that work published here is often by major established historians: Joyce Appleby, Ruth Rosen, Thomas Fleming, KC Johnson, .... I suspect that you have a bottomless need to complain. No matter how many facts one dumps into a bottomless pit, it never fills.

Josh Greenland - 11/5/2003

"The Danforth inquiry employed a firm, Vector Data Systems, to examine the FLIR videos, as well as normal video and still photos. Their conclusion: The flashes contained on the FLIR video were glints of sunlight off building debris."

Ah, VDS. I read that they had a number of ongoing federal contracts at the time of their determination.

Somehow it isn't surprising that the federal inquiries found for the federal government. I'm not saying I know for sure they were wrong in every particular, but there are grounds to be suspicious of them. Many who've spent more time studying Waco than I have don't believe the government's Waco conclusions.

"In the civil wrongful death suit, a court appointed FLIR expert concluded that the flashes on the FLIR video were glints of sunshine off debris."

An expert for the defense (federal government), I assume. And what did the expert for the prosecution say?

"Josh, I had good reasons for following this and remember the details quite clearly."

What were those reasons?

"Waco: Rules of Engagement uses video first identified and used by Linda Thompson in her video Waco: The Big Lie. Thompson is a right wing Militia true believer from the mid west."

Yes, Linda Thompson, the publicity-seeking wingnut from Indianapolis. So if she uses a piece of information first, it is forever tainted simply because she used it first? That is a logical fallacy. What Linda Thompson has done says nothing about Waco: The Rules of Engagement if she wasn't involved with making it.

Your original claim was not that the documentary had information first publicized by a militia fan, but that "“Waco: Rules of Engagement” was a propaganda piece, put out by a Militia movement adherent."

So are you saying W:tRoE wasn't made by a "Militia movement adherent," or that it was?

"Josh, we’re somewhat familiar with each other’s politics. You know that I’m no fan of Clark. But repeating the myths of Waco and comparing Clark to the Nazi’s is way over the top."

Peter, if you have a problem with the comparison of Wesley Clark with the Nazis, you should write to John Cuepublic/Edmund Birkenstock about that. He's the person who created that straw man.

I'm not aware that anything I'm written about Waco, other than perhaps the issue of who was manning the armor, has been clearly proven to be a myth, so no, I don't agree with your or Edmund Birkenstock's attempts to limit discussion about Waco, in regard to Wesley Clark or anything else.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/3/2003

Dr. Luker,

Sorry, it's an old Jewish expression. It's not that chopped liver isn't good (actually, I prefer it to any and all other forms of liver, which I generally find inedible), but that it was ubiquitous on the tables of recent Jewish immigrants who ate it as a cheap source of protein when they couldn't get more desirable meat dishes (pretty high egg and filler content, usually). It became metaphor for someone suddenly ignored on the arrival of a more desirable guest, etc.

It's an old Jewish mother joke, basically. Suddenly, untenured faculty don't count as historians?

Jonathan Dresner - 11/3/2003

Mr. Bailey,

Two problems: first, there's a lot to be said regarding hearing from junior faculty (We hope to be tenured someday soon, thank you very much) and even graduate students. Tenure is no guarantee of superior intelligence or perceptiveness or interest in current affairs (though I imagine that it is nice to have if you're going to spout off about political issues). I could just as well argue that junior faculty and graduate students are as likely to be up on the current state of the field than their advisors and mentors, if not more so. Nowhere does it say that HNN is supposed to be a platform for "senior scholars"; "historian" doesn't even exclude non-academics.

Second, three years is a long time on the Internet, but it is very little in the life of a professional publication. Most scholarly journals in their third year are just starting to be noticed by anyone outside of their author pool. HNN clearly falls somewhere in between. As a news/opinion publication, it's developed a strong following (3 million hits a month, with strongly academic readership), a stable of regular contributors, departments offering a variety of filtered and focused information, and a meeting ground between academics and interested citizenry.

I think HNN still has some unrealized potential, but I'm satisfied with its growth over the last three years.

Bill Bailey - 11/3/2003

Thanks for the interesting links, Ralph Luker. I am not persuaded that any of them demonstrate that HNN’s “primary function” is to provide a “national platform for historians” to “comment on current events”.

To continue with your analogy, when I ask students to substantiate the arguments in their term papers, I don't expect to have to hold their hands and walk them to the library.
It is your claim that HNN is mainly about history, not mainly about journalism. Show us then that more than 20% of the items in any one of your three linked HNN sections were contributed by tenured professors of history, and you might start to have a credible case. If HNN wants to have far more than four out of five of its articles, essays and commentaries coming from journalists, lobbyists, free-lance writers and junior level faculty, that does not mean it is of no value. It does mean that it is not what it claims to be. If HNN were in reality what it sells itself as, it would be able now, after nearly three years, to draw in at least a few of the big names in the profession.

Ralph E. Luker - 11/2/2003

You've got me there, Michael. Anyway, having you and Dresner at HNN is still good for the head.

Michael Meo - 11/2/2003

Well, Ralph,

Chopped liver, especially chopped chicken liver, is high in arsenic due to the organic arsenic added in chicken feed.

Tamar Lasky, of the National Institutes of Health writing in Environmental Health Perspectives, estimates that the cohort of U.S. residents eating the most chicken--and livers concentrate toxins--ingest between 21 and 31 micrograms of inorganic arsenic (the carcinogenic kind) per day. See Science News, 25 Oct 03, pp. 259-260.

The "good" news is that the Wordl Health Organization has said that 2000 micrograms per day is 'tolerable'. Modern agriculture, alas, has made something wrong with chicken liver.

Michael Meo - 11/2/2003

The immediate example I can come up with is: in advising a student that "rediscovered history" (whatever that is supposed to mean) has just as much difficulty with bias and fraud as the political-narrative type, I was able to suggest checking the name "Belleisle" on the Internet.

If I hadn't looked at HNN, I would have known only of the original claim that the U.S. gun culture dated to the Civil War.

HNN gave me a lot more than that with discussion of an ongoing debate.

Ralph E. Luker - 11/2/2003

So what's wrong with chopped liver? It is tasty and nourishing. Just this week, I handed out "Welcome Awards" to four fellow historians who I know only through what I've read by them on HNN and private listservs. Dresner is an Award winner, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure that I overlooked other historians who do meritorious service here, but I look forward to reading Jonathan Dresner, Oscar Chamberlain, KC Johnson, and Tim Burke whenever they contribute to HNN. Among those I have known otherwise for a long time, Derek Catsam, Dan Carter, Paul Harvey, and others surely deserve recognition. If we could persuade some non-professional contributors to HNN to speak respectfully to and of others we'd probably see more female participants here. As it is, Ruth Rosen and other female historians may contribute articles, but I don't blame them for refraining from the mud-wrestling that sometimes goes on here.

Steve Brody - 11/2/2003

The “flame throwing tank” and allegations that FBI agents fired into the Mount Carmel compound on April 19, 1993 were the subject of two inquiries: A special prosecutor, John Danforth, conducted an investigation for the Justice Department and a wrongful death suit was filed on behalf of the Branch Dravidians. This suit was tried in 2000 in Texas.

The Danforth inquiry employed a firm, Vector Data Systems, to examine the FLIR videos, as well as normal video and still photos. Their conclusion: The flashes contained on the FLIR video were glints of sunlight off building debris. Even the producer of “Waco: Rules Of Engagement” eventually admitted that “it was possible” that the cameras picked up glint which the films FLIR expert misidentified as fire.

In the civil wrongful death suit, a court appointed FLIR expert concluded that the flashes on the FLIR video were glints of sunshine off debris. Incidentally, the wrongful death suit failed, with the judge and jury concluding that all of the deaths that day were the responsibility of the Davidians.

Josh, I had good reasons for following this and remember the details quite clearly.

Waco: Rules of Engagement uses video first identified and used by Linda Thompson in her video Waco: The Big Lie. Thompson is a right wing Militia true believer from the mid west.

Josh, we’re somewhat familiar with each other’s politics. You know that I’m no fan of Clark. But repeating the myths of Waco and comparing Clark to the Nazi’s is way over the top.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/2/2003

Mr. Bailey,

I'm not a fan of blogging myself, and I would agree that Dr. Luker is the only one of the current HNN bloggers who is primarily history-oriented. But the other blogs address contemporary issues with deep historical roots, and that falls well within HNN's mandate to connect history and the present.

I'm not a fan of Martin Kramer or Daniel Pipes, but the articles posted here usually have a strong historical theme, connecting past and present. For that matter, I think Thomas Reeves is a repetitious old... fogey, but his articles on the profession of history are worth engaging (if only to reject them soundly). I don't agree with almost anything Thomas Fleming writes, but he's an historian who is making historical arguments and trying to connect them to the present.

And there's me. I was excited when HNN went on-line, because it is creating a space on the web to do publicly something that I also try to do (quietly) in my classes: explain the principles of historical process and relate them to the changes and continuities we see in the present. It's not a perfect site: the paucity of women authors and posters gives this a "boys club" atmosphere that is frankly getting tiresome. I think it could be a little less cutting-edge and invite a little more substantive thinking, and I think articles are sometimes chosen for the depth of the reaction they will provoke rather than their historical merit.

On the other hand, where else can historians at all levels, from the tenured professor to the amateur conspiracy theorist, engage in a debate like this? This is an important place on the web, a site for (mostly) serious discussion of (mostly) serious matters.

Ralph E. Luker - 11/2/2003

Mr. Bailey, They're in front of you on the screen. Try "roundup" here: http://hnn.us/articles/865.html
; try "headlines" here: http://hnn.us/articles/745.html
; try "features" here: http://hnn.us/departments/83.html
; try .... Others are only a click away. Sorry, but when I ask students to look up a word in the dictionary, I don't expect to have to turn the pages for them. I can assure you that it isn't as if HNN is rejecting the mad rush of historians to "comment on current issues." We are busy people, too.

Bill Bailey - 11/2/2003

Rather than my looking for haystack needles, how about you Mr. Luker, as a regular HNN contributor, providing some "specific pointers" as to where HNN is acting as a "national platform for historians wishing to comment on current events” (other than in your own blog). Surely not in the blog of “historian” Judith Klinghoffer, or in the “teachers” department utilized by such “teachers” as Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes ? Nor in the featured articles and the comment boards, as we both seem to agree. Where then ?

Josh Greenland - 11/2/2003

You're repeating yourself, John Cue.

Josh Greenland - 11/2/2003

“Waco: Rules of Engagement” was a propaganda piece, put out by a Militia movement adherent,"

A number of people worked on the film. Who do you mean?

"which has been thoroughly debunked."

By whom?

"The “flash” you refer to is a glint of sunlight of a piece of building material, which had been knocked of the building by the armored vehicle. This is clearly visible in normal video, which was being simultaneously recorded."

The flash showed up on infra red footage. How is a glint of sunlight going to show up on infra red?

"Furthermore, the armored vehicles were not being operated by US army personnel, but rather by FBI- HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) members."

Okay. I remember reading or hearing this shortly after Waco occurred.

I'm still not satisfied that Clark did the right thing under the law by providing the armor, but I'm not an expert in the law, nor am I completely clear on what he had done around Waco. If he didn't have culpability in what happened, I can accept that, but it hasn't been proven to me yet.

Ralph E. Luker - 11/1/2003

Mr. Bailey, Would you give me specific pointers on where you think HNN is failing? It cannot be in its aim to publish both left and right points of view because the right claims it is a left-wing vehicle and the left claims it is a right-wing vehicle. I've seen both accusations. They both seem off-target. If you look at some of the many other features offered on HNN -- beyond the blogs, the featured articles, and the comment boards -- I think you'll find other ways in which HNN _is_ fulfilling its mission. If you are _only_ looking at the "op-ed page with unlimited 'letter to the editor' function," that sure is what you are likely to find.

Bill Bailey - 11/1/2003


I have read many of your usually interesting and informed comments here at HNN and found that they often serve to inject a dose of common sense into a lopsided thread. (This is in addition to your very own "blog", which probably gets less attention from the random peruser of this site than do some of the more heated comment threads).

I think a number of us "absorbed" long ago that "this is not a history journal in any usual sense". However, your remarks above make me wonder whether you have "absorbed" the disconnect between what HNN is and what it purports to be. You say, with reasonably approximate accuracy, that "HNN features articles and op-eds on issues of current interest". HNN, however, touts itself as being mainly about History, and not just in its name:

From "About us" (on the top banner):

"Among the many duties we assume are these: To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history.

Because we believe history is complicated our pages are open to people of all political persuasions. Left, right, center: all are welcome."

From "FAQ":

"HNN originally was conceived as primarily a national platform for historians wishing to comment on current events. This remains our primary function..."

These are not descriptions of an op-ed page with an unlimited "letter to the editor" function. But that is what HNN basically is.

Bill Bailey

Ralph E. Luker - 11/1/2003

Mr. Easterland, I share your hope for stronger articles for discussion here on HNN, but I wonder if you fully absorb the fact that this is not a history journal in any usual sense. HNN features articles and op-eds on issues of current interest. Op-eds are, at their best, opinionated. You may disagree with the opinion offered, as I assume you do with the parallel between Pershing and Clark. But Clark's candidacy is certainly of current interest and you certainly have the opportunity to explain to us why you believe the parallel is an ahistorical one. I don't believe the article in question is either crude or polemical.

David Easterland - 11/1/2003

The point about teachers and educators normally being civil is a good reason to believe that they are in a minority amongst posters (if not readers) on HNN (as are females, incidentally). "Uncivil", irrelevant, and uninformed comments are a dime a dozen here. Alec Lloyd has contributed more than his fair share of those types of comments in the past, which may have prompted the "Lloyd Alec" satire in response. If the end effect thereof is an Alec Lloyd willing to apologize when he errs, then that is a "civil" result. How to handle the many crude, polemical and ahistorical articles frequently featured on HNN is another matter. The fact we are discussing "readers, writers and commenters" in this thread, and not Wesley Clark and the dubious parallel to Pershing, is a small indication of that bigger problem.

Edmund Birkenstock - 11/1/2003

I have no problem with "discussion" about Clark and Waco, but what we have here seems mostly to be speculation, and for reasons having not much to do with historical viability. Do the homework, the real homework, not one video (questionable if Brody is correct) and then an informed discussion can proceed. The reference to the earlier thread relates, I think, to the lack of proper context in this thread. The Davidians were not just in Waco, they were stark raving wacko. Comparing a bungled response to a weird one-off incident with a deliberate systematic multi- year campaign of genocide by an entire government may not be totally wacko, but it merits little attention by any serious historian.

Steve Brody - 11/1/2003

The ATF has, at least tacitly, admitted that the drug allegations were bogus. It wasn’t however, to call of SEAL Team 6. These charges were made so that the Hueys could be obtained on a “non-reimbursable” basis. In other words, the ATF didn’t want to have to repay the National Guard for the use of the Hueys.

Steve Brody - 11/1/2003

Josh the fire at Waco was not “ primed and then started by the armored vehicles”. The Branch Dividians started the fire themselves. This was established by audiotapes made by the FBI as well as thermal imaging showing the fire breaking out in multiple locations nearly simultaneously.

“Waco: Rules of Engagement” was a propaganda piece, put out by a Militia movement adherent, which has been thoroughly debunked. The “incapacitating agent was CS tear gas, which is an exceedingly fine powder, propelled by compressed air. The “flash” you refer to is a glint of sunlight of a piece of building material, which had been knocked of the building by the armored vehicle. This is clearly visible in normal video, which was being simultaneously recorded.

Furthermore, the armored vehicles were not being operated by US army personnel, but rather by FBI- HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) members. Clark had no authority over the HRT crews.

Clark’s only involvement in Waco seems to be as the provider of the armored vehicles. Providing the vehicles to the FBI was legal and proper, as I have established elsewhere, and indeed Clark could not legally refuse to do so.

Now, as I’ve said, I’m no fan of Wesley Clark. I believe he has weaseled on nearly every statement regarding the Iraq war that he has ever made. It’s pretty clear why General Hugh Shelton, Clark’s old boss, questions his integrity. But misstating what happened at Waco is not the way to oppose Clark.

Barbara Cornett - 11/1/2003

Mr Flemings assertions that Clark has little chance of winning the Presidential election failed to record that previous generals who were left handed had no chance of becoming president as well as the ones who perfered their eggs well done as opposed to the lucky men who went on to become president because they liked their eggs poached. It also failed to mention that the lucky men who went on to be president all had mothers who were excellent seamstresses.

You are probably right about the timing of the publication of this book. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Clark VERY recently tossed his hat into the ring or that unlike Kucinich for instance who has had no book published about him by Fleming and Basic, immediately became one of the democrats who looks like he can win. It probably got published at this time because the publishers wanted to get it into bookstores before "The Cat Who Came For Christmas" takes up all the room on the shelves.

The publishing of this book will do nothing to enhance Mr Flemings standing as a rightwinger because obviously it could have just as easily been written and published by Al Franken. It will establish Mr Fleming as a modern day Sherlock Holmes for the way he found all of the minute clues that eventually solved the question of whether or not Clark has a chance of becoming President. Miss Cleo is in jail so its a happy coincidence for everyone that Fleming was able to save the day. Its elementary my dear Meo.

Will rightwingers seize upon this book in order to make the case against Clark? That depends upon whether or not Rush is able to make a quick recovery so that he can explain the elementary clues to his clueless audience of dittoheads in time for it to make a difference. The rightwing may have to rely upon some privates to come forward and write a book about how they witnessed the general having sex with his secretary's poodle which of course will be published by Basic Books and presented at HNN by Fleming for everyone to debate.

If I were a supporter of General Clark rather then a nonsupporter, I would still have found the article to be rightwing propaganda based upon my previous experiences with rightwing tactics and dirty tricks as opposed to their ernest efforts to win elections by encouraging that everyone get the facts we need to know in order that we may govern ourselves and winning elections because the people support their policies as opposed to being fooled by their lies and propaganda and outright stealing of elections, and there is the only logic.

Josh Greenland - 11/1/2003

"Yes, Josh Greenland, the question is good, however your linked reports, while interesting, provide very little in the way of definitive information or historical context."

True, there wasn't enough information to come to strong conclusions about Clark's responsibility for events. But there is some important and intriguing stuff there.

I don't know what you mean by "historical context" and I don't understand the point you're making with the link to Tom Gallatin's post.

"Maybe nobody here knows, in which case we perhaps should drop the subject until proper historical facts are produced by those who care about it."

So because we don't have all the answers already before us, we shouldn't discuss Wesley Clark's possible role at Waco? I think we have enough information for a fertile discussion.

"I am content at this point to assume that the crucial decisions in the assault on the Branch Davidians were made by Reno and Clinton, not Clark."

In essence, you're saying everything's okay with Clark at Waco because he "vas only followink orderz."

"The following-Nazi-orders analogy seems far-fetched at best. Over-reacting once to one small group of cultists is hardly comparable to a multi-year campaign of genocide against millions of adherents, and relatives of adherents, to a major world religion."

Because Clark didn't kill millions of Jews or adherents of other "major" (worthy?) religions, that doesn't make him blameless in the death of the scores of Davidians, nor does it mean the Nuremberg rule can't apply to him. From what I saw in the Waco: Rules of Engagement documentary, armored vehicles punched holes in the Davidian building (on a day with 30 mph winds), pumped flamable incapacitating agent suspended in a flamable solvent into the building, and then the infra red footage showed a flash from the back deck of one of the armored vehicles, and the building started to burn.

The fire apparently was primed and then started by the armored vehicles. And the links I posted say that Clark ran the tank park the vehicles came from, and was in the chain of command over their crews.

I think Wesley Clark's role at Waco needs to be discussed.

Josh Greenland - 11/1/2003

Yes, that's right, Herodotus, and as I recall, the illegal drug allegations were completely bogus.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/1/2003

Mr. Lloyd,

Apologies are a rare and precious thing in these discussions. Thank you. And you're also right: there are uncivil academics, and people who are too set in their ideas to be good teachers. I'm not convinced they are the majority, but then I'm an optimist and an idealist.

The poster who inspired your ire seems to have a particular interest in attacking your positions, and the rhetorically empty reversal tactic must be particularly irritating, in repeated doses. I wasn't objecting to your characterization of the post as juvenile: that was clearly deserved.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/1/2003


I'm sorry I can't satisfy your thirst for hard statistical data. I trust the HNN staff to be honest with me, and that's what they told me: the majority of readers are university/college instructors, with the remainder largely coming from students and journalistic professionals. I don't know by what method they arrived at this conclusion, but I assume that they wouldn't make that claim unless it had a pretty sound basis.

And my comments about regular posters are based on several years of readership. A great many of the regular contributors to these discussions have revealed their professional and academic backgrounds in some form. If that's not substantive enough for you, either draw your own impressionistic conclusions, collect data to refute my assertions, or.... whatever.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/1/2003

Mr. Meo,

I'm glad to learn that I'm wrong about the absence of secondary educators in our regular comment-contributor-corps. I'd be curious to know if you find HNN useful in your teaching, or if this is just recreational.

And I've been making that point about civil exchange pretty much since I started reading USENET articles in the early 90s.

But I'm pretty sure that "Lloyd Alec," whose post started this discussion, isn't a member of the education profession. At least I hope not. I've been wrong before.

Michael Meo - 10/31/2003

I have trouble following what you're saying here, Ms. Cornett.

Mr Fleming writes an article to the effect that, despite appearences at the present, General Clark really has very little chance of obtaining the Presidency.

In your first sentence you say that Basic Books published Mr Fleming's tome in a rapid manner. A publishing house in London funded by the Lybian government published my book faster than I ever thought possible, but I was unaware this reflected in any way on the content.

In your next sentence you say that "the rightwingers" will find an article attacking General Clark to be timely.

Is the reader to assume that the rapid publication of his book will establish Mr Fleming as a "rightwinger"? Or is his work only something that the right wing will use?

Finally, you add that you do not intend to vote for the apparently unfairly-criticised General. I am unable to find any logical thread here. Sorry.

Michael Meo - 10/31/2003

Let me take the opportunity to be the first to state that I teach high school, Mr Dresner.

It has been my experience that teachers are about as polite as professors. And vice versa, of course. Courtesy doesn't cost anything, and it enhances the effectiveness of your message.

Herodotus - 10/31/2003

Oh, okay. Thanks!

NYGuy - 10/31/2003


Since HNN dones not know who is a member of the profession and who is not how can they support your statement. Did they do a survey to collect data? If so then there should be statistics on the readership. Even without your inquiry I would guess they do research on the readership since they do have some ads.

So the question is do they have verifiable about what you say, or are you both guessing? If data is available then it would be nice if it were shared with us, unless it is classified, non public information that is only made available to a priviledged few. In any case there is no supporting numbers as to who posts on HNN to support your claim.

Jonathan Dresner - 10/31/2003

My comments about the people who comment on HNN is based on extensive and extended observation. Is that a guess? I think that underestimates the value of having been part of the readership and discussions almost since the inception of this project.

My comment about readership was based on a personal communication with HNN staff.

Herodotus - 10/31/2003

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Joint Task Force Six and the role of the drug allegations which permitted the request for military assistance.

ed hill - 10/31/2003

i doubt the points raised are relevant to our current situation.

consider the lack of attention paid by most in the u.s. to politics. and the short attention spans of most who do make some effort.

this will be a campaign of short video clips and shorter phrases.

it will be won or lost on the gut impressionas of the average swing voter who's decision is often made on the way to the polls.

in such a meliu symbolism will weigh heavily. i suspect that a dem ticket without clark would be a waste of time. dean won't many crossover republicans and kerry for all of his qualifications will put 'em to sleep.

clark would prolly make a good president. but if he gets in it won't be on his "back story" as great as it is. it'll be on his ability to neutralize the bush pretense to owning patriotism.

Alec Lloyd - 10/31/2003

Indeed, some of my best professors disagreed with my politics profoundly. But they respected the ideas of others. They challenged them, but never assailed the student as being somehow inferior for thinking differently.

Alas, those were the exception, not the rule. For the most part discourse was limited to what the prof wanted to hear. Disagree and your grade suffered. So I learned to hide my thoughts, practice doublethink, and abandoned all hopes of an academic career.

NYGuiy - 10/31/2003


You just don’t understand GW’s genius. The focus of the world on 7 million people was a distraction and giving Arafat and Sharon center stage in the world by previous administrations made matters worse and nothing was accomplished.

Now it is up to both sides to decide what type of life they want and then let us know. Seems like GW’s is the best policy we had so far for this conflict and it is working.

Everyone knows that it was the sheepish democrats under Clinton who were the one’s that were asleep at the switch. The earlier attack on the WTC, and the opportunity to capture Bin Laden were too risky for that administration to consider. And beside there was no leadership to fall back on.

You will notice how the UN “peacekeepers” are turning tail and telling the world terrorists that they have nothing to fear from the UN government. Meanwhile, GW has put the terrorist issue on the table for all to see. In his trip to Asia last week he was greeted warmly for his leadership in fighting terrorism and all parties agreed that it the threat of the future. NB: The UN was not involved.

And on the dangerous nuclear situation GW has also provided the leadership to prevent the spread of these dangerous products after the UN showed it was incapable of handling the situation.

I am afraid until you can adjust your thinking to look at the future and understand GW’s genius, you will have to wait to see his successful vision explained in history books a good five years from now.

So you see when you say,

“I've had enough of Herodotus's mad fantasy world of incompetent hypocrite cowards pretending to be patriots,”

it just shows you don’t know what is happening in the world.

Jake Lee - 10/30/2003

A few questions for Fantasylander "Herodotus", the imaginary historian:

"...most of the people in the country say we're in a war", proclaims this Brother of Grimm. Therefore this "war" is a fact ? ! If most people in Cairo think the 9-11-01 attack was a Zionist conspiracy, does that make that belief true too ?

And who, pray tell, is pushing the "forward spread of Western capitalist democracy" into new uncharted territory ? Surely not non-nation-builder George W. Bush, who took office planning to stand back from the Israel-Palestine conflict ? Surely not slash-and-burn-downsize-the-military Rumsfeld ?

Or does spreading democracy to the Mideast (the West Bank and Saudi Arabia obviously excluded) only become a priority after Uncle Rummy and Uncle Dick get caught asleep at the switch on a quiet September morning in 2001 ?

Afghanistan, Iraq, South America, the Far East, all in a "war" against us ? Gee whiz, Tonto, are Caribbean hurricanes and California wildfires part of the plot too ?

So the mighty flight-jacket deck landing in front of the "Mission Accomplished" banner was not the "end" of the "war" ? So when does it end ? When Karl Rove says its time for a new set of soundbites ?

Beam up me Scotty, I've had enough of Herodotus's mad fantasy world of incompetent hypocrite cowards pretending to be patriots.

Steve Brody - 10/30/2003

I’m no fan of Wesley Clark. I believe him to be a weasel of the highest order.

That being said, did Clark violate the law by loaning armored vehicles to the FBI at Waco? No way. The Posse Comitatus Act (title 18 USC 1385) states as follows:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Thus any laws passed by Congress may expressly authorize the use of the Military to enforce civilian law under this Act.

Has Congress passed any laws authorizing the use of the Military to enforce civilian laws? Many times. To get right to the point, Title 10 USC 372 states:

The Secretary of Defense may, in accordance with other applicable law, make available any equipment (including associated supplies or spare parts), base facility, or research facility of the Department of Defense to any Federal, State, or local civilian law enforcement official for law enforcement purposes.

Thus Clark’s loan of armored vehicles to the FBI was authorized by Congress and clearly legal. And you can bet your ass that Clark had a Staff Judge Advocate’s legal opinion to that affect prior to giving the vehicles to the FBI.

Herodotus - 10/30/2003

"guessing correctly" is precisely my point. He has no evidence to back it up. I am curious to know the readership as well, but asserting supposition for fact isn't helpful.

Herodotus - 10/30/2003

Hmm...well, most of the people in the country say we're in a war. It may not be a "declared war" but then the majority of our foreign interventions in the past 226 years haven't been declared wars. So we're in a war. Our armed forces are deployed, and use deadly force in a coercive way to achieve our national aims. For some reason everyone's getting overexcited about Iraq as if that's the only front. We're in a shooting war with the Taliban/Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. We're using armed force to board suspect vessels in the Mediterranean. We're sending special forces teams from South America to the Far East to hunt down Al Qaeda-related groups.

Meanwhile back home the real chickenhaws, those reluctant to act in the world for fear that we'll upset the French (who are right out there with us boarding those vessels in the Mediterranean and joining with us to roust money launderers funneling support money to bin Laden's supporters). There is a war going on. It's about time people stood up and noticed the real implication of it: the forward spread of Western capitalist democracy into a region of the world that missed out on the last two rounds of this, in 1919 and in 1945.

John Cuepublic - 10/30/2003

Ed, if you are a practicing pacifist or dedicated isolationist (tiny but articulate minorities amongst HNN posters), then you might legitimately criticize Clark's platform or record on those scores, but the notion that the General is a "stalking horse" for G. W. Bush has all the markings of ignorant rubbish. Michael Moore, whose views you ought to be familiar with (if you truly oppose the current president) publicly asked Clark to run. Whatever one might think of Moore, he is certainly no friend of Dubya.

Goliath - 10/30/2003

David, How's the weather in Rumallah today ? If Martisa is on Clark's payroll (which I doubt) at least that is an American payroll, not the payroll of a foreign war criminal.

See prior “payrolled” comments of “David”:


“Saddam was NOT allowed nukes, but Israel IS. Because they are our allies, and not hostile to us”


“Ariel Sharon's protective wall ensures a two-state solution”

Edmund Birkenstock - 10/30/2003

Says who ? The chickenhawks using fear to seek the legitimacy of a bonafide electoral victory not yet achieved, and cover up their responsibility for being asleep at the switch on 9-11 and for bungling the Iraq occupation ? War is not terrorism, and it is an insult to America's soldiers (who are manifestly NOT terrorists) to persist with this Orwellian deception.

David Easterland - 10/30/2003

He is guessing and he is guessing correctly. What are you doing ?

Village Hampden - 10/30/2003

Yes, there are crucial differences. Koresh and his followers were U.S. citizens, entitled to the protection of their government, not persecution by it. Saddam, bin Laden, the Taliban and the rest of their Islamist ilk are not "adherents, and relatives of adherents, to a major world religion," they are enemies and friends of enemies of the United States of America. It is the constitutional duty of our government to provide for the common defense against them. We are in the midst of a war, and feel-good, kumbayah wishful thinking won't make it end. Unfortunately, there are a good many people in this country who refuse to face difficult facts because they don't fit politically correct preconceptions about the nature of the world. Fortunately, the current administration is not blind to reality as it actually exists.

Herodotus - 10/30/2003

By what scientific basis do you make this judgement? Has HNN released evidence of its readership and commentators' backgrounds, or are you just guessing?

Ralph E. Luker - 10/30/2003

Mr. Lloyd, I would, if I could, introduce you to a private listserv of historians who are conservatives or who are at least willing to engage in tough and respectful dialogue with conservatives. Some of them even post on the HNN boards. Even "an ideologue," that is, someone who firmly believes things which _I_ don't hold to, may in fact be a very effective teacher. The best teacher I ever had was such a person. Only if you think it necessary that students only be confirmed in what they already believe would you think that "an ideologue" is _ipso facto_ a poor teacher. The word apparently has very negative connotations for you, but if you look at its root origin it would mean something like the word about ideas. Anyone who has the word about ideas is welcome to be my teacher any day.

Alec Lloyd - 10/30/2003

Mr. Luker, you and Dr. Dresner are correct that my conclusion was unwarranted, and were it possible, I would delete my previous reply.

However, I cannot extend my apology to the teaching profession because it would be insincere. I have had the misfortune to encounter a great many ideologues, both among primary and college-level educators. Indeed, they are the rule, rather than the exception.

That being the case, it was still wrong of me to assume that the rude poster was a teacher. As I said, I would retract those remarks if I could.

Jesse Lamovsky - 10/30/2003

I was involved in the earlier discussion referenced by Mr. Cuepublic (?). The main point was this:

1.) The armor used in the assault on the Branch Davidian compound came from the 1st Cavalry Division, based at Ft. Hood, Texas. In the spring of 1993 (from 1992-94, in fact), the 1st Cav was under the command of General Clark. Remember the news footage of the tanks firing gas grenades into the compound? Those were Clark's vehicles being used, against civilians- American civilians, women and children, on US soil, in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. The order to hand over the armor to the BATF was an unlawful order, and General Clark had every right to refuse it. He did not. There is no evidence that he was there in person the day of the assault, but he should take at least a measure of accountability for what happened.

Thanks to Mr. Wornock for bringing this up, and Mr. Greenland for providing links. This is an important issue in the career of General Clark. Quite frankly, I can't believe more people aren't talking about it. I've yet to see any expose on General Clark's role at Waco in the mainstream media- only on sites like Counterpunch and Antiwar.com.

Ed Martin - 10/29/2003

Mr. Fleming, you do realize that General Clark is not a Presidential candidate. He was put in place by the Bush Administration as a conundrum for the voters. He is a Republican saying he is a Democrat. He is a war hawk saying he is against Bush's war. He is a right wing ideologue saying he has left wing convictions. He says one thing one day and says the opposite the next. This allows the Bush Administration to watch the reaction and see which way the wind is blowing with the American voters, and script Bush's pronouncements accordingly. It's an old, worn out, obvious tactic called a "stalking horse", and should not be taken seriously. Bush, not being familiar with the term or tactic, thinks he thought it up and that he's fooling the rest of us. Pathetic.

John Cuepublic - 10/29/2003

Yes, Josh Greenland, the question is good, however your linked reports, while interesting, provide very little in the way of definitive information or historical context.

Earlier comment threads at HNN have also been very murky on this subject. Many crucial aspects remain unclear. See for example point 1 in this comment: http://hnn.us/comments/18644.html

Maybe nobody here knows, in which case we perhaps should drop the subject until proper historical facts are produced by those who care about it. I am content at this point to assume that the crucial decisions in the assault on the Branch Davidians were made by Reno and Clinton, not Clark.

The following-Nazi-orders analogy seems far-fetched at best. Over-reacting once to one small group of cultists is hardly comparable to a multi-year campaign of genocide against millions of adherents, and relatives of adherents, to a major world religion.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/29/2003

Mr. Lloyd,
Dr. Dresner is exactly right. I had an experience yesterday on the HNN boards which illustrates as well as anything I know exactly why some of my more intelligent fellow academics regard HNN as "read only." If these discussions are the non-professionals' substitute for mud-wrestling, then you cannot expect self-respecting people to participate in the discussions. If the authors of articles become only fair game for the most outrageous ad hominem remarks by people who wouldn't know what it was to publish anything, then they will not publish here. No contributor to these discussions has been more consistently respectful of other people than Dr. Dresner. Those of us who have given our lives to clio do not appreciate public declarations by people who don't know what they are talking about declaring us unfit. Got that?

Barbara Cornett - 10/29/2003

Fleming, who is on the corporate board at HNN and Basic Books got their book out in record time. Since Clark is enjoying a lot of support among democrats it stands to reason that the rightwingers would want to put out a propaganda peice attacking him.

Clark is a republican and I would never support him anyway.

Josh Greenland - 10/29/2003

That is a good question: exactly what was Clark's involvement with Waco?


Alec Lloyd - 10/29/2003

It is quite dismaying to find people lowering themselves to name games.

And please do comment! That's what the little box is for, right?

Rich M - 10/29/2003

THE first thing that strikes a traveler in the United States is the innumerable multitude of those who seek to emerge from their original condition; and the second is the rarity of lofty ambition to be observed in the midst of the universally ambitious stir of society. No Americans are devoid of a yearning desire to rise, but hardly any appear to entertain hopes of great magnitude or to pursue very lofty aims. All are constantly seeking to acquire property power, and reputation; few contemplate these things upon a great scale; and this is the more surprising as nothing is to be discerned in the manners or laws of America to limit desire or to prevent it from spreading its impulses in every direction. It seems difficult to attribute this singular state of things to the equality of social conditions, for as soon as that same equality was established in France, the flight of ambition became unbounded. Nevertheless, I think that we may find the principal cause of this fact in the social condition and democratic manners of the Americans.
You know who wrote this. De Tocqeville

Jonathan Dresner - 10/29/2003

Mr. Lloyd,

Without commenting on the exchange which inspired your "Juvenile" post, I'd just like to say that the population of HNN's discussion boards is mostly non-academics; members of professoriate do read HNN, but very few of us join in the commentary outside of those of us who also write articles for HNN and feel compelled to come to our own defense. I've never seen anyone who self-identified as a primary or secondary educator.

Alec Lloyd - 10/29/2003

Wow. I've seen greater maturity from teenage gamers. And these people are supposed to be teaching our youth? That explains a lot.

DC Wornock - 10/29/2003

Frankly, I don't see a single Democrat or Republican candidate for President that I care to vote for.

I was considering supporting Clark. However, I read that he was in charge of the military assault that resulting in the killing of so many innocent children and adults at Waco.

I wrote to him at the committee for his election in Little Rock, Arkansas asking for his input as to whether or not that was true. That was over a month ago and I never received a response. I have concluded that he would have refuted it if it were not true.

Someone guilty of atrocities is not my idea of a suitable President. Some may justify his actions because he was carrying out orders. However, we executed many German commanders for committing atrocities while acting under orders, and if the German commanders has not carried out their orders, during a war, the penalties would have been far greater than any peacetime penalties General Clark would have been subjected to.

John Puttre - 10/28/2003

Dr. Fleming must know that Pershing's marriage, relatively late in his life to a senator's daughter was responsible for his career taking off. He also took his all black American troopers up San Juan hill clearing it out (of less than 200 bare foot Spanish soldiers) hours before Teddy Roosevelt gloriously rode up the hill with some newspaper correspondents and into history with his Rough Riders. In fact Pershing was called "Black Jack" because of his long service in black American units.

However if it hadn't been for his wife's political connections he would most likely have finished his career in Mexico. He was leaped over hundreds of other senior officers to lead an all horse mounted 6000 man unit sent to find and arrest Pancho Villa, a murdering terroist whose specialty was lining up people one behind the other in such a way as to try to kill as many as possible with a single bullet, it was his sport. Pancho was unlikely to have had even 200 followers with him but it was a large enough body for it to have been simply incrediable that Pershing and his 6000 troopers not to have been able to find Pancho even though all Mexico was fill of different political and social groups and victims who would have been overjoyed to kill Pancho Villa. Regardless with 6000 men on horse back Pershing still couldn't find anything, not even fodder for his horses.

This being his army career situation at the time it is nothing short of amazing that he still had the political pull with Wilson (who had sent him to Mexico)to put in command of the AEF.

Lloyd Alec - 10/28/2003

In case Kerry pulls ahead of Clark in the polls, Bush Apologist Automaton Lloyd Alec is programmed to change his tune as follows:

Kerry, like Pershing, is a pure opportunist.

Kerry has gone on record supporting the Iraq War. He's clearly decided that he wants to be president, and will tailor his ideology and message to whatever soundbites suit him at the moment.

Has he even apologized yet for voting for to give Bush a blank check to blunder his way into a disastrous war ?

Kerry’s candidacy is balm to the “we want to be Nazis too” wing of the Democratic party that believes Republican hypocrisy can be outmatched by Democratic hypocrisy.

The irony is the Dems already have a war hero, Wesley Clark (who by the way, is not afraid to directly attack Bush’s attempt to hide his mistakes by putting on flight jacket and pretending he is a soldier). Or isn't his outspokenness enough?

Herodotus - 10/28/2003

"Clark has gone on record as saying he'd have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned his calls."

And then being put on the spot to prove that he'd ever called Rove in the first place, which for all intents and purposes we're left believing he never made the calls.

Alec Lloyd - 10/28/2003

Clark, like Pershing, is a pure opportunist.

Clark has gone on record as saying he'd have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned his calls. He's clearly decided that he wants to be president, and will tailor his ideology and message to whatever party will have him.

Is he even a registered Democrat yet?

Also worth is the cloud that hung over Clark's last command. He was not popular in the Pentagon and found his command terminated early. Neither the SecDef nor the Chief of Staff attended his retirement. Pershing had far greater stature in that respect.

His candidacy is balm to the BUSH = NAZI wing of the Democratic party that believes its weakness on national security issues can be covered up by a set of general's stars and a faded uniform.

The irony is the Dems already have a war hero, John F. Kerry (who by the way, served in Vietnam). Or isn't his service enough?

F.H. Thomas - 10/28/2003

Kudos to you, Mr. Fleming, for the best political history of WW I, in my estimate, "The Illusion of Victory", a great companion piece to Moser's "The Myth of the Great War", on the military side.

Given that all generalizations are in some ways wrong, however, I want to pick a couple of nits.

One might believe MacArthur to be a clotheshorse, based purely upon how good he looked in anything he chose to wear. But in fact he was the opposite.

In WW I he was famous for wearing whimsical and outrageously original clothing, including in one famous photograph a six-foot crocheted muffler, corncob pipe, modified field cap pulled up in the back and with the frame pulled out of the front. To that he added knickers and knee hose, with riding boots, and no steel pot or gas mask, ever. His soldiers loved it, his superior officers happily tolerated it, and he became one of the most decorated Americans dressed like no one else. This was perceived then as establishing his (small d) democratic bona fides.

In WW II he modified his preferred outfit again, again choosing an abused field cap with the frame pulled out, and perhaps the baggiest pants ever worn by an American soldier. He continued that theme in Korea. "Old Fuss and Feathers" he surely was not, although he epitomised the martial valor and ethos of the ancient knighthood as well as anyone.

Agreed that Arthur Schleslinger is a renowned historian, and that his observation on American Generals may have much merit. However, I believe that his brilliance was, like certain other historians, in echoing the myths of the power elites in really good English, rather than ever breaking new ground. (For that I come to you.) Schlesinger is not the type to make Thucidides' spirit happy, in my view, which is my personal requirement in an historian. One might add that Camelot had lots of Cavaliers, however.

Thanks again.

Brian - 10/28/2003

This article makes no sense whatsoever.

I rememeber, during the Kosovo "war", that whenever I saw Clark he was wearing camaflague fatigues, hardly a flattering uniform.

I also remember that Eisenhower liked to play dress-up too. Remember the "Eisenhower Jacket".

Let's also look at the General/Presidents performances. Grant's administration was overcome by corruption, Eisenhower was conned into invading Guatamala at the behest of corporate interests. (He was smart enough to learn his lesson, i.e., "beware the military-industrial complex")

Let's hope Clark isn't that kind of general.

David - 10/27/2003

"Clark is completely selfless and serves only others, not his own needs."

How long have you been on the payroll of the Clark campaign?

Herodotus - 10/27/2003

It's just terrible what's going on over there. We ought to pull everyone out immediately. Check out how bad it is here:

PS - 10/27/2003

This commentary serves no real purpose, other than to attack Gen. Clark.

Commanding a million men is less important in today's times than the ability to work multilaterally with heads of state.

We are again at a war time, and like we elected generals as presidents during war times, only a general with the kind of world experience and intellect like Clark can provide the right leadership.

If you find a better general, would you please have that person run for president? The gunslinging cowboy just won't cut it.

Rob - 10/27/2003

Thomas Fleming:
Just like a Radical Right-Winger, if you can't argue on substance and policy, you take to making personal attacks. Retired General Clark is a Gentleman, and is the only man running for President who can get the US out of the holy mess that Bush and his chickenhawks have put us in. Bush sent our men and women to an illegal war in Iraq; one which opened the hell gates to every terrorist around. Why don't you spend your free time (it seems that you have a lot of it) to finding out:

1) What happened to the Billions of dollars that were initially
sent to Iraq for Reconstruction, and which have turned up
2) Why the Republican Senate (Pat Roberts) doesn't want an
open and public investigation on just where and how Bush
got the information that he used as a reason to go to war in
Iraq. How much did Bush's shadow intelligence department
(The Office of Special Plans, or OSP) which has been
staffed by top Pentagon Hawks and supervised by Dick
Cheney and Newt Gingrich, have a hand in preparing the
intelligence reports to justify Bush's war.
3) Why is Bush's *personal* attorney overseeing all of the
Whitehouse's paperwork regarding the CIA Leak. Why is
Ashcroft (Bush's old buddy) conducting his staff's
investigation of same. This reaks of coverup and I think
might be a cause for impeachment.
4) Why Cheney won't turn over his paperwork re his meeting with
Halliburton, etc. on energy before the Iraq war.

This administration works in secrecy and yet their wages are paid by the US tax payer. We are entitled to know what is going on in *our* house (Whitehouse) and if you want something to write about, find out the answers to these questions.

And finally,
5) Why has Bush determined that his Presidential papers should not be opened by *anyone* which includes the Press. What is he wanting to hide?

You owe General Clark an apology. He didn't dodge the Viet nam
draft like a few others we know did. Bush went AWOL for the last year he was in the National Guard. Why don't you put your
energies into something more realistic. Slandering General Clark makes me wonder why you feel so inferior and worthless.
What have you got to hide !!!

John Cuepublic - 10/27/2003

Good comment, Mike, but you can still be proud of your BA in History. Fleming is not a professor of history, and history professors are not running this website.

John Cuepublic - 10/27/2003

In addition to the informative critiques of other commenters, it also noticeable that Thomas Fleming's laundry list of titillating personal differences between Pershing and Clark steers fully clear of the general political circumstances of the 1920 and 2004 elections. As one of many examples, in 1919 a internationally popular U.S. president had successfully won a major war, after striving mighty to stay out of that war. In 2003, an internationally unpopular U.S. president is bogged down in a bungled occupation after starting a foolishly conceived war.

William P. Arney - 10/27/2003

Mr. Fleming seems to know a LOT more about Pershing than Clark. This comes as no surprise, since he just wrote a book about WWI which is being hawked in the margin of his article. Clark is barely even mentioned in the article--more of an afterthought in an article about other generals who became presidents.

I would suggest to Mr. Fleming that he should do just a wee bit of research on General Clark, or the Kosovo war, before tossing his credentials aside with so little care or consideration.

For example, Fleming's article leaves one with the impression that it was Clark keeping ground troops out of the Kosovo conflict. Clark, like many of us, was desperate to involve ground forces as a way of drawing out Serbian troops so they could be confronted and destroyed. The trouble was that the decision was not in Clark's hands. The casualty-shy politicians were making that call.

Fleming would have been better served if he had just written an article hawking his book, rather than doing so anyway while pretending to write about general Clark.

Revisionist - 10/27/2003

If you had just factored in which generals were right-handed and which were left-handed, then I think you really could have had a worthwhile analysis here.


Knuckles Buchanan - 10/27/2003

1) "Moreover his war was an elitist operation in which all the fighting was done by a handful of pilots and techies in charge of cruise missiles."

That phrase does a rather grave disservice to the pilots that flew the sorties, and the sailors that launched the missiles, does it not? It also appears to negate the active involvment of the other NATO countries that were deeply involved in this conflict.

Your statement is also rather disingenuous, as it neglects to mention Clark's efforts to prepare (rather strenuously, and against the prevailing sentiment in the Pentagon) for the ground offensive that he, and the other military staff in NATO, felt would be necessary if the bombing were forced to continue for months. Ultimately, his insistence on simply planning for that eventuality is what had him unceremoniously removed from his post by Defense Secretary Cohen.

2) "No large numbers of enlisted men served under Clark and learned to like his ways."

That's a rather bold statement, and unsupported by fact. I'm all for criticism, but if you are going to make assertions such as the above, you need to be able to back them up. At present, you cannot.

3) "During Clark's "war" in Kosovo, he was extraordinarily fond of getting his picture in the papers and on TV in his well tailored uniform."

Media works, man. Just look at the response this rather dubiously constructed piece is getting. Clark's appearances in the media in Europe were for the benefit of the U.S.'s NATO allies, and their need to sell that war back home (home being Italy, Germany, France, etc.).

4) The comparisons of the Draft Movement for Clark (implied, of course) to that of the Pershing tour may have had some merit. But you didn't flesh them out for squat. That tack might have borne some fruit, had you done it better.

5) Lastly, the presidential nomination dog-and-pony show isn't what it used to be. Comparing the back room politics version of the 1920's to that of the open-source campaigns of the present is truly like comparing your methodology to that of Gordon Wood. They both are the same in theory, but in practice, one is so far superior that it renders the other irrelevant.

texifornia - 10/27/2003

What a load of crap! Your article is conjecture piled upon supposition piled upon innuendo.

If General Clark was a glory hound, as you insenuate, why did he omit in his own book heroic acts in Bosnia to save his friends and collegues who's vehicle had gone off of a cliff? Richard Holbrooks book (published after the General's) details his heroism. That doesn't sound like a glory hound.

Furthermore, the war in Kosovo was truly a "Modern War" as Clark describes it. It encompasses Political leadership, he had to deal with the foreign ministers, defense chiefs, and heads of government of 19 NATO allies simultaneously, diplomatic leadership and public information all while commanding a war for NATO and fulfilling his duties as CINC of American forces. You dismiss these as trivial, I do not.

Then again, your "hero" ran away from the champaign brigade of the Texas Air Nat. Guard, likely to avoid drug testing. There are those who would say G.W. Bush went AWOL. In actuality he was a deserter as he was gone for more than three months.

My hero has put his life on the line for his country, his friends, and his collegues on a number of occasions. He is brilliant (a bad thing as you regard) and he earned everything he has. Your hero was born with one silver spoon in his mouth, another up his nose, ran like a shreiking coward and couldn't break 700 on the S.A.T.

Our country would be blessed indeed if Wes Clark were our next president. He's EXACTLY the kind of general we need as President right now.

Susan B. - 10/27/2003

Does your dismissal of "Clark's" elitist war in Kosovo (involving a few pilots and techies) mean we should go back to hurling bodies at the enemy until we run out? Does that show leadership? I don't know about Clark's appeal to the American voters but he appeals to me because he's earned the right to wear a flight suit on the deck of a carrier as a uniform. Not as a costume. Give me leadership or give me Bush!

Keir Murray - 10/27/2003

This article is puzzling because the conclusion Mr. Fleming draws is virtually unsupported by anything he writes here.

First of all, the political worlds of Gen. Pershing, Gen. Scott, and even Gen. MacArthur bear little resemblence to today's landscape. Television and now the Internet have completely changed the way political campaigns are done, and the Web, in particular, has benefitted Gen. Clark's groundswell. None of the other generals mentioned had any such method of recruiting supporters and disseminating information.

His implication that since MacArthur was dismissed for "good reason", so must Gen. Clark have been, simply isn't supported by any credible information.

Fleming's roundhead vs. cavalier comparison simply doesn't hold water. While it is true that Clark graduated first in his West Point class (hardly, I think, an indictment of one's qualifications), he was not a child of privilege. He grew up in a modest home, served on the ground and was wounded in Vietnam, and, like many Americans, spent most of his adult life struggling to make ends meet. While the Kosovo campaign was largely waged from the air, he argued forcefully that ground troops should be used to better achieve that mission and spare civilian lives. It was, perhaps, this disagreement that lead to his being relieved of duty.

It is in Mr. Fleming's final sentence, however, that his true colors emerge. While he may like to think only "desperate Democrats" place their hopes on Clark's shoulders, the scores of political independents and disaffected Republicans volunteering for Clark and contributing money might beg to differ.

Your arguments here are weak, Mr. Fleming, and you'll have to do a lot better to convince any serious person.

Cat M. - 10/27/2003

The only thing this survey suggests to be fatal is your reputation as a historian. Pershing was not known for his scholarly ability, so I'm not certain why you refer to him as a "star" at West Point. He graduated 30th in a class of 77, which is hardly "star" material. Pershing left the service due to ill health, which couldn't have inspired much confidence in potential voters.

You're comparing a MacIntosh to a Granny Smith and saying that because they are both apples, any pies made from them will taste the same. It's a stretch to say that Pershing, Clark or MacArthur are similar enough that whatever happened to one was the inevitable conclusion for the other. You have merely hunted for the similarities to support your theory while ignoring the differences.

The world we live in today is not the same one we had when MacArthur or Pershing ran for office. Bush's failure on the intellectual scale has created a deep hunger among many people to find someone who will not be an embarrassment to America. Further, Americans recognize the absolute need for strong military leadership--not just a leader who can take us to war, but rather one with the intellect and skill to keep us out of a war.

I always find it silly when people try to predict the future for one person based on what happened to an entirely different person in an entirely different point in history.

Hilary Bok - 10/27/2003

As best I can tell, the point of this is that because Wesley Clark finished first in his class at West Point, he cannot possibly win. Is this supposed to be an argument? What am I missing?

Mike Moore - 10/27/2003

Good grief, was that supposed to be a helpful analysis? Your article makes me a little embarrased to have taken my undergraduate degree in history.

General Clark's entry into politics bears little, if any resemblence to Pershing's; that is probably why you are the first commentator to put the analysis forward. Please, you really should look at current events and then find applications from history, not try to force historical situations on current events.



Martisa Vignali - 10/27/2003

Dear Mr. Fleming,
I am so crushed at the way you have attacked this decorated veteran, General. Clark. Clark would be the president we were all promised as kids. Clark could be making money doing book tours, but instead, he fights for us, answering the call of 50,000 of us to go out and run for the presidency and risk slanderous attacks from people who have forgotten true patriotism. Clark is completely selfless and serves only others, not his own needs. There are many of us who are deeply hurt and offended at your rude slap on this fine patriot. You owe him an apology. Your comments are disgraceful.

Oscar Chamberlain - 10/27/2003

Quite honestly there are too many differences between Clark's siuation and all the other generals listed above to make any generalizations at all.

First of all, the notion that military service is a necessity for the presidency has been killed off by Clinton, Bush the Younger, and the volunteer army. The percentage of people who are at all concerned about a candidates military record is pretty small.

For those voters who are concerned:
Kosovo was comparatively short, so Clark never became as well known to the public as the other generals mentioned. Operations in Kosovo, as Fleming points out, were conducted by a small group. That minimized the effect of Clark being either popular or unpopular with the men and women under his command.

As for his being first in class at West point, I suspect that so long as he does not try to milk that, it would help him slightly.

It terms of symbolism, what Clark's military service offers that the other candidates (Democratic or Republican) lack are two things.
He can more easily attack Bush's policies from the standpoint of an expert.
It is harder to tag his as disloyal for attacking Bush's policies.

Otherwise, what he brings to the table are his campaigning skills and the appeal of his positions.