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Fox Undercuts Wesley Clark's Sane Words

Reported by Judy - July 24, 2006 -

Former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark provided a few minutes of sanity on Fox News Monday (July 24, 2006), but the hosts of "Dayside" did their best to undermine him while he spoke and then followed Clark's appearance with a blood-thirsty guest of the type that has dominated Fox News coverage of the crisis along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Clark, who is a Fox News military analyst, has been a rare guest on "Dayside." The "Dayside" crew is unlikely to invite him back after Clark delivered an articulate, well-thought-out appeal for an approach to the Israeli-Lebanese crisis that reduces civilian casualties, avoids direct U.S. ground troop involvement, and tries to permanently remove Hezbollah from the area along Isral's border. Clark was callling for a NATO force of 10,000 non-U.S. troops that would have the authority to police the area.

Clark followed Dan Gillerman, Israeli ambassador to the U.N., who has almost been a regular on the show since the fighting started. This time, Gillerman pushed the "World War III" rhetoric and had the "Dayside" audience in a fighting mood by the time Clark arrived.

While Gillerman said the U.S. should isolate Syria and Iran, Clark said isolation is the wrong strategy for the U.S. (as opposed to Israel) because it causes the U.S. to lose influence on the countries. When a member of the audience asked if the U.S. was considered a serious threat by Syria and Iran after the Iraq war and the lack of public support for it, Clark said those countries do still fear American power, even if operations in Iraq have not made the U.S. look stronger or given the U.S. more influence in the region.

"I see some of our audience shaking their heads. They don’t agree with you," said Huddy, although the camera did not specifically show that. Then she specifically asked for a question or a comment from someone who wanted to disagree with the general. Was she deliberately trying to undermine Clark?

Instead, the question had to do with Gillerman's claim that World War III is upon us. Clark rejected the World War III view of the conflict, and instead sad it is a strategic opportunity for the U.S. to move Hezbollah from that region "if we play our cards right" by sending in a NATO force quickly with a broad enough mandate to accomplish it.

Later, a member of the audience challenged Clark and said she agree with Gillerman that the world is in World War III. "We simply don't appreciate or fear the threat we have from radical Islam. They want to destroy us," she said.

Clark was well-prepared to respond. " I think we have to be careful of labeling things World War III," he said. "We're not in the same position of Israel. ...We don't want to get drawn into a head-to-head conflict if we can avoid it. That's why we should be talking to people."

Huddy did her dirty work again, interrupting Clark, "Can we talk to people like Syria and Iran? How?"

"Yes you can," insisted Clark. "And here’s the thing. You cannot occupy those countries, you cannot simply declare World War III unless you want to raise an army of 12 millon men and march into the Middle East and occupy it, and we’ve already seen the example of Iraq. This is very, very difficult. So this is not like World War II with Germany and Japan. This is entirely different. We should use the military sparingly, as a last resort."

Again Huddy, who rarely challenges a conservative guest, asked Clark how the U.S. could "have diplomacy ... with countries like Syria and Iran. ... These are countries that have been on the record saying let's destroy the United States."

"If you agree with people, the dipolomacy is different. When you don’t agree with people, it’s even more important to talk, to box them in, to understand what they want, to help them see the world differently. Keep the force in reserve,. Otherwise, you’re just going to end up raising a 10-million man army to invade the Middle East and that’s something we don’t want the United States to do and I don’t think your viewers want all their children to spend the rest of their lives in uniform."

After he finished, a woman said, "I disagree with the general, and I agree with Juliet. We’re dealing with people that want to kill us. It's like if somebody's holding a gun to you how can you just talk to them?"

Clark again was ready with a response. "They’re not holding a gun to our heads," he said. "We are there. It’s our military that’s in Iraq. It’s the Israelis that are there with the most powerful vorce in the region. Iran has no way of reaching us except through Hezbollah terrorists. We’re tracking those people in the United States. I’m not saying there’s no threat, but I’m saying don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a head-on conflict like Germany and the United States in World War II. It’s not there."

It was a brief interlude of intelligent discussion. After a break, "Dayside" went to Capt. Chuck Nash, a retired Navy captain, who helped stir up the audience's taste for blood.

"We are being international chumps if we think we can go in and talk to these people," he said. Later, he added that Saddam's WMD's could be in Lebanon.

Maybe that explains why Nash never made it past captain.