Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark delivered Temple’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy 2001 Annual Lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at the Kiva Auditorium.
|“We are in a new kind of war. We are in a transition period.”
Retired Gen. Wesley K.
The retired general, who is considered one of the nation’s highest decorated officers since Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, spoke of warfare in the 21st century and specifically what people should expect from America’s fight on terrorism.
“We are in a new kind of war. We are in a transition period,” Clark said of the war on terrorism.
His talk of warfare started with World War II and the Cold War and their affects on America’s national defense strategy.
It was during the Cold War and the subsequent relative calm that Clark received his many decorations, beginning in Vietnam and continuing through his part in emergency deployments on American soil and in the Middle East.
He also held commander status in Latin America and in Europe where he was heavily involved in the Serbian engagements.
Clark said that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, America’s strategy fell apart and led to indecision as to the purpose of America’s Armed Forces.
The attacks on Sept. 11 changed all of that.
America finally had an enemy and international support, which Clark said is important for any operation these days. United Nations’ support means that international law stands against the adversary as well.
About the attacks in Afghanistan, Clark emphasized the fact that Afghanistan itself is not the target. Neither are Kabul or Kandahar, but the Taliban and military targets within these cities. He added that the casualties that have happened so far were inevitable, as with any kind of military involvement.
He spoke about the conventional air strikes that started the engagement with Afghanistan and the difficulty that strike forces face on the ground. Clark added, though, that the war on terrorism would not be won with bullets.
Clark said the strategy for the war is from the outside in and from the bottom up. Because the terrain and situation in Afghanistan is unfamiliar, America must start the fight on its own ground.
That means identifying, interrogating and arresting those on American soil. Then applying that same plan on a global scale to “take apart the [terrorist] networks.” Because the people America really wants are at the top, taking apart individual cells is necessary to make a path to those leaders, like Osama bin Laden.
Clark said that Ridge and the Homeland Security Office were a good step toward winning on the home front. He noted that a missile defense system would not work in the new era of warfare and neither would a movement towards isolationism.
At the end of his speech, Clark took questions from the audience that ranged from the Palestinian/Isreali conflicts to the turmoil in Pakistan.
About the Middle East conflicts, Clark said that America’s presence in the process was not a reason for the terrorist attacks; he dismissed it as just an excuse. However, he did call for democracy and rule of law in the area, believing it to be the only way to bring the fighting to an end. But he said that would mean a push for a Palestinian state to bring all of the Palestinian Liberation Organizations’ factions under one government.
About the growing unrest in Pakistan, Clark said that America must be patient because some countries that are considered allies, such as Saudi Arabia, are actually bases for terrorist organizations. Never the less he expressed hope with Pakistan and their willingness to support America.
Clark ended the speech with a very positive statement about America’s place in the world, both in the past and present centuries. He said that the last century was considered the century of America, and so can the 21st, but it will “require pride, courage and skill, which we have in abundance.”
A book signing followed the speech and a question and answer session. Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat is a controversial book by Clark that the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy listed as a reason for choosing him to speak at their lecture.