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Who Says the Democrats Don't Have Solutions?

Reported by Marie Therese - October 4, 2005

Well, it looks like Bill O'Reilly decided to interview Gen. Wesley Clark after all. Wonder if he read my post last week, scolding him for breaking his promise? As for those of you out there who regurgitate that same old, tired right-wing mantra that the Democrats don't propose solutions, but only attack, check this out. Last night [10-3-05] on the O'Reilly Factor, Wesley Clark outlined a plan for Iraq. Naturally, Bill argued with him (so what else is new?). Once more, however, a Democrat held his own in the face of the Great Bloviator!


O'REILLY: And joining us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, is FOX News military analyst General Wesley Clark, who has been thinking about Iraq policy. OK, General, go. What would you do if you were in charge?

CLARK: Bill, it's always taken a three-legged stool to succeed in Iraq. Leg one is the military. Leg two is the politics inside Iraq and leg three is the diplomacy in the region and especially with Iraq's neighbors. Now for the first year we were in Iraq we only had leg one, the military. Then we added the political. The political is bringing a constitution to be voted on later this month that's going to really anger 20 percent of the population. And when it passes, which it probably will, we'll have deeper animosities inside Iraq. So the mission is in trouble, right. You're right. It's a big mess.

The reason is the Bush administration has never really grasped the diplomatic problem in the region. If we want to fix Iraq, we've got to work the diplomacy of the region. Now, how do we do it? We meet individually. We send emissaries in. We talk to Iraq's neighbors. Turkey, Jordan. No problem. Kuwait, no problem. Syria and Iran, well, that's really tough. This administration doesn't want to talk to either one of them directly. And yet, they're part of the problem in Iraq. When we invaded Iraq we let Syria and Iran know they were next.

We're putting the squeeze on Syria right now, and we'd like to run - the administration would like to run Bashar Assad out of town and get rid of this government in Syria, so he's got no incentive right now to try to help us work in Iraq. And as far as Iran is concerned, we've got a looming nuclear crisis with Iran, and we're not talking to them. So our military people, our mission in Iraq is held hostage by the neighbors. We're gonna have to talk to the neighbors if we want to make this mission work.

O'REILLY: Alright. Well, Syria, I think you can probably make a deal to spare Bashar's life if he cooperates with us.

CLARK: Right.

O'REILLY: I agree with you.

CLARK: Well, not only that, but you can go in there and you can start working it. He's still a guy who wants to ...

O'REILLY: Well, we are. We ...

CLARK: ... stay in power


CLARK: ... and he's got nine intelligence agencies competing against him and undercutting him.

O'REILLY: Well, I - I agree with you there

CLARK: So you can work Syria.

O'REILLY: I think it's workable in Syria. U.S. should send the ambassador back. I think it's workable. I don't think it's workable in Iran. I think those people are so far beyond the pale at this point that no matter what you said to them, it's not going to make a difference and would be ...

CLARK: Bill, have you been over ...

O'REILLY: ... and would be perceived as weakness.

CLARK: ... to Iran? Have you been over to Iran?

O'REILLY: I've been. No. I [haven't] been in the country, but I have been in the gulf.

CLARK: Have you talked to them? Have you talked to them? Well, I've been in the gulf, too, and I've had several instances of people from Iran wanting to talk to me. There are people, there are elements of that government that do want to talk. Now, can you do it so it doesn't look like weakness? That's what diplomats are ...


CLARK: ... supposed to be able to do.

O'REILLY: I'm not opposed to that.

CLARK: What you must do ..

O'REILLY: But I don't know how much stock you can put in it.

CLARK: What you must do is you must find the common interest. There's nobody in that region that wants a huge war inside Iraq because it would involve all those countries.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 6 words): See I disagree with that. I think Iran is thrilled that there's a huge war inside Iraq.

CLARK: No. I don't think so because ...

O'REILLY: Because...

CLARK: ... Iran can't win that war.

O'REILLY: Yes, it can.

CLARK: They'll try to get ... They won't.

O'REILLY: I'll tell you, if we cut and run ...

CLARK: They won't.

O'REILLY: If we cut and run, as 25 percent of Americans want to do right now, Iran fills that vacuum. They team up with the Shi'a, they basically call the shots in southern Iraq. So I think Iran is thrilled.

CLARK: In southern Iraq they call the shots, but they don't call the shots in all of Iraq.

O'REILLY: No. Southern Iraq ...

CLARK: You've still got Turkey.

O'REILLY: ... but that's where the oil flow is.

CLARK: You've got Saudi Arabia. You've got Syria. You've got Jordan. You've got a lot of money that's gonna flow in there. You know, the way it works over there is a lot of these countries are willing to use Al Qaeda when it suits their purpose.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

CLARK: But ...

O'REILLY: And that's what Iran's doing.

CLARK: That's right. But this is not going to suit their purposes to let Iran have the whole country or even to carve off a part of it, so you''e gonna have to be [indecipherable] ...

O'REILLY: Alright. So let's sum up. So you want to - you want to...

CLARK: Take that common interest and build out of it a regional dialogue and let the United States then train the Iraqi forces, step back as the guarantor of regional security in the region, and then let each of these countries guarantee Iraq's border and let ...

O'REILLY: Alright.

CLARK: ... and let their interest be resolved.

O'REILLY: It's an optimistic viewpoint that they would do that.

CLARK: It's a possible viewpoint, Bill.

O'REILLY: Alright. North Korea proves that, although we don't know if North Korea is going to do what they say they're going to do. So it's a dangerous world. But look, I'm not opposed to having conversations with Syria and Iran to try to help us out over there, but I don't - Syria, I think you could do it because, as you said, you know, it's Bashar's life. I mean, we could take his life and we should take his life if he doesn't help us out. Iran - different nut. Now ..

CLARK: Iran is the most difficult country in the region.

O'REILLY: It is, absolutely.

CLARK: We've got to engage it. There's nothing wrong with talking to people before you have to use force.

O'REILLY: OK. Now let me ask you about this Hellerstein ruling last week that at the behest of the ACLU, Hellerstein says, oh, yeah, the government has to put out more Abu Ghraib pictures. Now, you heard [Gen. Richard] Myers say nothing new [in the pictures], just more of the same. We all know from the Newsweek* debacle, this is going to inflame, because crimes of passion need a lighter. They need a flame. This would provide it. More Americans are gonna die I have not heard anybody come out and condemn Hellerstein's ruling, any politician, anybody from the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, nobody. Just me.

CLARK: Well, I think that the ...

O'REILLY: I'm outraged. What do you think?

CLARK: A lot of us don't know what's in those pictures and we don't know what to say.

O'REILLY: You don't believe Myers?

CLARK: Well, let me, let me go back to the other side of it.

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, wait ...

CLARK: There's another ...

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

CLARK: Wait a minute, Bill. The other side of it is what is happening in Iraq? You know, it wasn't just Abu Ghraib. You've got a captain now in the 82nd Airborne [Ian Fishback] who says that this kind of torture and beating up people and so forth was condoned by his unit; the chain of command is protecting it. He's gone out to Human Rights Watch.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 6 words): Hey, general, you know what war is about?

CLARK: No, I ...

O'REILLY: You're always gonna have that stuff.

CLARK (emphatically): No, I don't know what it's about, Bill. Because the United States Army that I served in proudly for 34 years, we did not beat up and torture prisoners.


O'REILLY: General, with all due respect ...

CLARK: Now just a second, Bill ...

O'REILLY: ... there were atrocities in Vietnam.

CLARK: Yes. And they were tried and they were punished.

O'REILLY: And World War II and World War I

CLARK: And they were punished.

O'REILLY: ... and the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.


CLARK: They were not condoned by the chain of command. And what we ...

O'REILLY: Yes, they were.

CLARK: No, they weren't. No, they weren't.

O'REILLY: Lieutenant Calley and Medina in Vietnam?

CLARK: It was not - they were not condoned by the chain of command. Those guys were court martialed.

O'REILLY: Well, you don't - listen, with all due respect...

CLARK: Let me explain somethin'. You need to go all the way up the chain of command.

O'REILLY (loudly, sharply): General, you need to look at the Malmedy Massacrein World War II and the 82nd Airborne who did it.

CLARK: Bill, this isn't World War II. I'm looking at a volunteer army ...

O'REILLY: I'm telling you that ...

CLARK: ... fighting a war against terror and I'm telling you if you're going to win, you've got to have a higher standard.

O'REILLY: You want those picture pictures out? You want these pictures?

CLARK: I want our Army to live up to American values.

O'REILLY: So everybody does. You want the pictures out?

CLARK: We don't torture people. So I think we need a complete investigation to see where this goes all the way up to the top level of the chain of command ...


CLARK: ... and up to those White House memos.

O'REILLY: No problem with that. Yes or no, general? Do you agree?

CLARK: Well, I'd like to ...

O'REILY: Do you agree...

CLARK: I would like to see the pictures, Bill.

O'REILLY: You want to see the pictures.

CLARK: I want to see.

O'REILLY: Even if would put Americans in danger, you want to see them?

CLARK: I'll tell you what's put Americans in danger. It's not having the Geneva Convention in force and not having better guidance.

O'REILLY: All right. That's theory, General. We've got guys over there now. That's theory. We've got guys over there. Just rethink it. I disagree with you on that.

CLARK: Well, it ...

O'REILLY: I appreciate you coming on.

CLARK: I want to hear you come back on my ground. I want to see what we can do to really clean this up.

O'REILLY: Oh, I agree.

CLARK: We can't win this war on terror by torturing people.

O'REILLY: I agree with that, but I don't want to put our guys in the field in any more danger.

CLARK: I certainly don't want to put them in danger, either.

O'REILLY: OK. Hellerstein is wrong.

* As reported by News Hounds and others - this comment - a favorite talking point of the right wing - has been debunked by the Department of Defense, which acknowledges that the rioting that occurred was not connected to any revelations made in Newsweek magazine. Yet it has become a favorite no-brainer mantra of the right-wing. I really wish a few more Democrats and liberals would start calling the right-wing on the facts of the story. Then, maybe we could lay it to rest!

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