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Wesley Clark

Wesley Kanne Clark (born December 23, 1944) was the United States Army General who as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO commanded Operation Allied Force. He had a distinguished career in the Army and the Department of Defense. Clark retired a four-star general, and received many US and foreign decorations for his service. Clark is currently a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Table of contents
1 Biographical sketch
2 The Kosovo airfield incident
3 Presidential candidacy
4 Life events
5 Current offices
6 Military decorations
7 Other honors
8 Quote
9 Books
10 External links
11 Footnote

Biographical sketch

Clark's father Benjamin Kanne was an Orthodox Jew, a Democratic Party politician, and a lawyer, who died in 1948. His mother then returned home to Little Rock and married a former banker, Victor Clark. Wesley was brought up a Baptist Christian, and attended public schools. During the Vietnam war, he married Gertrude Kingston of Brooklyn, New York, and became a Roman Catholic. They have a son, Wesley Jr, and a grandson Wesley Clark III, was born on Christmas 2003.

Clark graduated first in his class at West Point, and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He also graduated from the National War College, Command and General Staff College, Armor Officer Advanced and Basic Courses, and Ranger and Airborne schools.

Clark was wounded by a sniper while an infantry company commander in Vietnam. Later, he was an instructor and later an Assistant Professor of Social Science at West Point. He holds the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark headed the US military team during negotiations that led to the Bosnian Peace Accords at Dayton, under the overall leadership of Richard Holbrooke.

From 1997, he was head of the U.S. European Command (CINCEUR), responsible for about 109,000 U.S. troops and all U.S. military activities in 89 countries and territories of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. As Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) he also had overall command of NATO military forces in Europe and led approximately 60,000 troops from 37 NATO and other nations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As SACEUR, he confronted Yugoslavia over Kosovo. NATO's 78-day bombing campaign ended with the Kumanovo truce, a withdrawal of Yugoslav military and police force from Kosovo, and the entry of NATO and other KFor forces. In December, 2003, he testified during Milosevic's trial. His appearance was not public and transcripts of his testimony were subject to U.S. review before being released, a precaution the U.S. didn't take when Madeleine Albright testified. Clark's testimony was sought because he had spoken with Milosevic for a total of more than 100 hours, in his role as the head of the U.S. military team during the Dayton Agreement negotiations and as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

The Kosovo airfield incident

At the conclusion of his command in the Kosovo War, which followed the end of the military campaign, there was an incident involving Russia's use of an airfield in Kosovo. According to a BBC profile of the General, after a token Russian force took control of the Slatina airfield, near Pristina, on June 10, 1998, there was a "battle of wills" between Clark and the British NATO commander, Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson. Clark ordered British forces to resist Russian troops that occupied the airfield. Jackson did not comply, reportedly later saying: "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you."

Clark, in an NPR interview, said that the incident was a surprising moment for him. Clark indicated that his order to block the runways was refused by an emotional Jackson and that he took the matter up the British chain of command.

Despite Clark's claims, Jackson could not have obeyed the order without reference to the British Government. Otherwise, he would have been committing British troops to action against a non-belligerent power without the consent of the British Government. That would have been firmly against British constitutional law, and would have resulted in the dismissal of Jackson for gross insubordination. The situation would have analogous to the behaviour of US General of the Army Douglas MacArthur with respect to the People's Republic of China, during the Korean War.

Clark stated that General Sir Charles Guthrie, British Chief of the Defence Staff, agreed with Jackson. Guthrie, according to Clark, also told him that Hugh Shelton the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also agreed with him. Clark found this very surprising since the original suggestion to block the Russians came from Washington. Clark called the Pentagon, looking for support, and was told by Shelton: "We don't want a confrontation, but I do support you". Clark said that he told Shelton: "Then you've got a policy problem". Clark maintained in the NPR interview that the matter was a difference in the perception of the policy between the US administration and the British government. Clark believed he was carrying out the suggestions of the administration in Washington.

The Clinton administration later persuaded Hungary and Romania to deny Russia flight over their airspace, preventing the Russians from landing transport planes to reinforce their troops at Pristina. In July 1999, the Russians agreed to integrate their forces into NATO's operations.

Presidential candidacy

Since his retirement from the army, Clark has worked as a military and international affairs analyst, including a stint as a commentator for CNN. In mid-2003, He began flirting with a Democratic presidential candidacy in 2002, including visits to the all-important first primary state of New Hampshire.

By August 2003, several organized groups were making a nationwide effort to "draft Clark" for the Democratic Party's nomination for the 2004 Presidential election. CNN on August 13 showed a commercial by one of these groups, and interviewed Clark. He disavowed any connection with the "draft Clark" groups, but said he had been considering his position and that within a few weeks he would likely make public his decision on whether or not to run. He also fueled speculation with a television interview in which he first declared himself a Democrat.

On September 17 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Clark announced his intention to run in the presidential primary election for the Democratic Party nomination, becoming the tenth and last Democrat to do so (coming many months after the others): "My name is Wes Clark. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I am here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America." He said, "We're going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back."

Originally heralded as an anti-war general, he stumbled rather seriously in the first few days of his candidacy, changing his answer at least twice on how he would have voted on the Iraq war and at one point calling a press aide up to the stage with whom to confer before answering a question.

His campaign has so far focused on themes of leadership and patriotism; early campaign ads have relied heavily on hagiography. His late start having left him with relatively few detailed policy proposals, a weakness which was apparent in his first few debates (though he has recently presented a major tax-relief plan). Many Democrats have flocked to his campaign due to his impressive military background, seeing such foreign policy credentials as a valuable asset in challenging George W. Bush post-September 11. Advisors and supporters have sometimes sought to portray him as more electable than Howard Dean, the current frontrunner for the party's nomination.

Heavy criticism of Clark began almost the moment he entered the race, mostly coming from his rivals. A relatively recent convert to the Democratic Party, Clark has admitted to having voted for Presidents Nixon and Reagan, and have drawn attention to positive comments he has made about the Bush administration and its foreign policy team, including one at a GOP fundraiser in 2001. He also been criticized for giving guarded and unclear answer on the issue of gays in the military. Questions have also been raised about his involvement in lobbying the Pentagon.

In answer, Clark supporters have emphasized the progressive character of his policy positions. A frequent refrain, echoed in the campaign's official "Talking Points for Supporters," is that he is "pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-environment, pro-health care, and pro-labor."

In a thirty-second campaign video aimed at young people and aired at a CNN/Rock the Vote candidates forum, Clark referenced the hip hop duo OutKast. After answering questions from young people, he ends by saying "I don't think OutKast is really breaking up. Andre 3000 and Big Boi just cut solo records, that's all."

In January of 2004, engaged in an active campaign to win, or place second, in New Hampshire, Clark announces a plan that would raise upper income bracket rates in order to cut income taxes for "all families of four earning below 50,000". Note that this is income, and not FICA and Medicare Taxes, which make up half or more of the tax burden of lower income earners.

Life events

Current offices

This list is not complete

Military decorations

Other honors

Clark received more than 20 other major military awards from non-US governments.


I could not be prouder of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces for capturing this horrible despot. This is a testament to their courage and determination. I’d also like to congratulate Lieutenant General Sanchez and the intelligence community for the crucial role they played. We’ve been due good news from Iraq, and the world is a safer and better place now that he is in custody.


External links


¹The following references report the confrontation. Clark devotes an entire chapter to the incident in his book Waging Modern War (Chap. 15).