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General Wesley Clark – Legitimacy: First Task for American Security

May 16, 2007 Leave a comment

Hosted by: Center for Politics and Foreign Relations, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

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questions:

Guy Dinmore: Thank you very much General. It’s very nice to see you. I don’t know if you remember but I was actually the FT correspondent in Belgrade in those days in ’99…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Thank you.

Guy Dinmore: …and occasionally we used to chat over the phone with the General in preparing for the bombardment and me in Belgrade also preparing.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sorry to have interrupted your tea time a couple of times there.

Guy Dinmore: Um, this question of legitimacy is a very complicated subject and I’m going to ramble slightly, then I’m going to ask a very hard question at the end so wait for the punchline. But first of all on Milosevic, I remember there was actually no UN resolution when NATO started bombing Serbia. In that sense there was a lack of, you might call, international community legitimacy. I mean, it did follow later, but it was not there. Um, I think Milosevic is an interesting example. I mean Milosevic, like Saddam, eventually went on trial for war crimes and they were the losers. Um, you have enumerated a list of what a lot of people would count as crimes in this administration’s conduct of the Iraq war. You’ve accused them of deliberately, um, distorting intelligence, leading this country to war under false, um, premises, breaking international laws. You have called for justice. And there is one single act that this country could do which would actually restore its legitimacy, whatever that is exactly in the eyes of the international community. Quite simply, and I will get on to that in a moment…a few weeks ago, Dennis Kucinich was here and he spoke very eloquently. Um, he’s a man who is trying to impeach Dick Cheney but we all know that this is not really the American way, is it? The American way is that a president comes in, like Gerald Ford, and he pardons his predecessor. The American way, on the whole, as we will probably see with Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank, is ask the man to quietly go and then give him a large sum of money. So, General, if you were the president, and you come to office, would you pardon Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush for their actions or would you put them on trial for war crimes? Thank you.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I could hardly stand the suspense as you went through the thing. And you have sort of approached it from different…let me just answer a question you didn’t ask first and then I’ll come to the question you did.

Guy Dinmore: No, no, no, no, no…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I want to make…I want to be very clear because I’m asked this occasionally, especially by some of my friends in the Tory party in the UK. They say ‘well look, I mean, here you are citing all these things about Iraq, but you went to war in Kosovo without a UN resolution’ and I want to take just a second and say that the two cases are exactly the opposite. In Kosovo, there was every effort made for diplomacy first. We used force only as a last resort. We used minimum force. We gradually escalated it only when it was clear that minimum force wouldn’t work. We were scrupulously careful to try to avoid civilian casualties. We fully accounted for the civilian casualties that occurred and when the fighting was over, we rushed in a force that already had plans and did everything it possibly could to protect property and they’re still there today guarding these Serb monasteries and other things. So it’s exactly the opposite of the case of Iraq.

Now, with respect to the consequences for those who led the nation.

I think that…I think that it’s premature to talk about these kinds of issues – impeachments and pardon. But I don’t think it’s premature to call for a thorough inquiry and I think that is the American way. We have something here which simply can’t be washed away and covered up. I’ve met with too many parents who’ve lost their children. I’ve met with too many foreign leaders whose faith in America has been damaged. I’ve met with too many military leaders who are struggling to come to terms with what they felt were the pressures and orders from above and what they knew in their hearts and had reservations about as a consequence and tried to resolve it.

This doesn’t…this is not an issue that’s going to go away so I think it needs to be followed step-by-step and I think the way to begin is to first finish the Senate investigation that was promised on whether or not the administration properly used the intelligence information that was available. No point in having everybody write his own memoirs on it – we’ve just had George come out with his – and…let’s get the facts out. We have a Congress in place that is not of the same party as the executive branch in the American system. That normally means that you could provide greater trust and reliance on the adversarial system of inquiry that’s in place.

Let’s have it…let’s have it done. And then let’s go back and find out about those memos written in the Executive branch. What exactly did they mean when they said…when they say the Geneva Convention was an anachronism, when they redefined the definition of torture, when they indicated that…what was going through the Secretary of Defense’s mind when he was talking about how we needed more information, not more people in Iraq? And what did he think that meant to the people on the ground? Where did the abuses at Abu Ghraib come from? What are the secret findings that are out there in the intelligence community? Why are these rumors still surfacing of people being beaten up and abused and conduct that’s just not…and what did the President in a signing statement in the 2006 Act on Military Commissions and the 2005 Act on detainee treatment? What have been the actual consequences of those signing statements?

These are legitimate matters of public inquiry and in our political system, we have a lot of people in office who do have political courage and I have confidence that our leaders will ask these tough questions because it’s the only way we can move our country forward and regain the trust and good faith of others in the world.

A HEART-WRENCHING TASK

July 1, 1999 Leave a comment

Less than a kilometre away from where Canadian troops kept them under high-tech surveillance, obstructive Russian troops were engaged in the most serious eyeball-to-eyeball standoff between Moscow’s and NATO’s forces for half a century. In a nearby ethnic Albanian village, survivors told of a gruesome massacre by Serb forces. Everywhere were signs of the human tragedy caused by the conflict in Kosovo. As they passed their first week in the tortured Yugoslav province, Canadian peacekeepers had quickly become immersed in the tricky and often heart-wrenching complexities of ending a messy Balkan war. Read more…

Media: The Word On The Street

April 27, 1999 Leave a comment

the Independent

TWO MORE Belgrade correspondents of British newspapers have been expelled from Yugoslavia. The Financial Times’s Guy Dinmore and The Guardian’s Chris Bird have both been ordered to leave. Their exit follows that of Tom Walker, based in Belgrade for The Times for the past two years and married to a Serb, who had his multiple-entry visa cancelled last Wednesday.

Dinmore, an FT stringer, sent an e-mail to the paper’s foreign desk on Sunday saying he had been told to go. The Guardian correspondent had already left Belgrade early yesterday. “There was no reason given for Chris Bird’s expulsion, but perhaps it is no coincidence that he was expelled the day after the Serbian TV station was bombed,” said Ed Pilkington, the Guardian’s Foreign Editor.

YUGO DISPATCH FRIDAY (L-ONLY) BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

April 23, 1999 Leave a comment

Voice of America, April 23 1999

INTRO: RESCUE WORKERS IN BELGRADE ARE STRUGGLING TO FREE SURVIVORS AND BODIES FROM THE WRECKAGE OF SERBIA’S STATE TELEVISION HEADQUARTERS HIT BY NATO MISSILES EARLY FRIDAY. THE ATTACK CAME JUST HOURS AFTER A SPECIAL RUSSIAN ENVOY LAUNCHED A NEW DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE TO END THE CRISIS OVER YUGOSLAVIA’S KOSOVO PROVINCE. GUY DINMORE REPORTS. Read more…

Q & A WITH GUY DINMORE BY LES CARPENTER

April 23, 1999 Leave a comment

Voice of America, April 23 1999

INTRO: THE FOLLOWING IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW LES CARPENTER OF VOA’S NEWS NOW CONDUCTED WITH JOURNALIST GUY DINMORE IN BELGRADE.

TEXT: L-C: NATO WAR PLANES HAVE STRUCK AGAIN IN BELGRADE, AND WE UNDERSTAND THEY HIT THE TV STATION, THE GOVERNMENT TV STATION?

G-D: THAT’S RIGHT. RADIO-TELEVISION PROGRAM R-T-S. IT WAS HIT ABOUT 2:00 THIS MORNING. THE BUILDING WAS VERY BADLY DAMAGED; PART OF IT COLLAPSED COMPLETELY. CONCRETE FLOORS PANCAKING ON TO EACH OTHER. SOME OF THE BUILDING ALSO CAUGHT FIRE. OFFICIALS ARE SAYING POSSIBLY FIFTEEN PEOPLE WERE KILLED. THERE’S NORMALLY A SHIFT OF ABOUT TWENTY PEOPLE THERE OVERNIGHT. OF COURSE, THE TELEVISION STATION WAS KNOCKED OFF THE AIR, BUT I’VE JUST BEEN TOLD BY FRIENDS IN BELGRADE THAT THEY’RE BACK ON THE AIR ALREADY. CLEARLY THEY HAVE ANOTHER TRANSMITTER SOMEWHERE, DIFFERENT STUDIOS. AND NATO HAS KILLED FIFTEEN PEOPLE FOR REMOVING R-T-S FROM THE AIR FOR ABOUT SEVEN HOURS. Read more…

Q&A KOSOVO BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

April 22, 1999 Leave a comment

Voice of America, April 22 1999

LES CARPENTER: THERE IS RUMOR THAT ONE OF THE HOUSES OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC MAY HAVE BEEN HIT OVERNIGHT.

GUY DIMORE: ITS THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE, WHICH IS NOT FAR FROM WHERE I LIVE.

Q: CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THAT.

D: THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE OF THE YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT, WHO IS NOW PRESIDENT MILOSIVIC. BEFORE HIM IN THE EARLY 80’S AND 70’S IT WAS THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE OF PRESIDENT TITO. IT IS IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA, ON A HILL CENTRAL BELGRADE. IT IS A VERY HUGE RESIDENCE, IT IS BELIEVED ALSO TO HAVE AN UNDERGROUND BUNKER, COMMAND CENTER. THERE WERE ENORMOUS EXPLOSIONS IN THE AREA. I’M NOT LIVING FAR FROM THERE MYSELF. TELEVISION THIS MORNING CONFIRMED THAT THE RESIDENCE HAD BEEN HIT AND THEY SAY PRESIDENT MILOSIVIC WAS NOT IN IT AT THE TIME. THE AREA IS NOW SEALED OFF. Read more…

YUGO DISPATCH – WEDNESDAY (L-ONLY) BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

April 21, 1999 Leave a comment

Voice of America, April 21st 1999

INTRO: FORMER RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN IS HEADING TO BELGRADE (THURSDAY), BRINGING A POSSIBLE NEW PEACE PROPOSAL TO END THE KOSOVO CONFLICT. MEANWHILE YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS ARE ASSESSING THE LATEST BOMB DAMAGE INFLICTED BY NATO FORCES WEDNESDAY. MISSILES HIT A TOWER BLOCK IN BELGRADE THAT SERVED AS THE HEADQUARTERS OF YUGOSLAVIA’S RULING SERBIAN SOCIALIST PARTY. ONE RADIO AND TWO TELEVISION STATIONS WERE ALSO GUTTED. GUY DINMORE REPORTS. Read more…