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Wesley Clark Delivers Another Wow Performance

Reported by Judy - August 1, 2006 -

It's one thing to be extremely intelligent, with a grasp of complex matters, an appreciation for historical context, and a raft of specialized knowledge. It's another to be able to communicate all that to an audience of average Americans. And it's still another to be able to do all that as a liberal on a Fox News show. But General Wesley Clark did it again Tuesday (August 1, 2006) in another appearance on "Dayside."

Clark, a former supreme allied commander for NATO and now a Fox News military analyst, gave a command performance just last week on Fox News, discussing the Israeli-Hezbollah crisis. He was back for a return engagement Tuesday, this time facing a potentially hostile studio audience.

"Dayside" co-host Alyson Camerota tried to put Clark on the defensive early in the interview, asking him what he would do differently about the Middle East crisis if he were president, and then interrupting him as he tried to answer. Clark was unfazed.

If he had won the presidency in 2004, Clark said, "We wouldn’t be where we are in the Middle East today. We would have been talking to people."

Speaking for two long segments on "Dayside," Clark drew careful distinctions and avoided simplistic either/or discussions about the use of force versus diplomacy. Clark rejected negotiations with Hezbollah, but stressed the need to support the Lebanese government and provide humanitarian assistance to its citizens, to have diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria, and to save military force as a last resort. He affirmed Israel's right to defend itself, called Hezbollah wrong for its actions, but insisted innocent civilians in Lebanon should not have to suffer as a result.

Clark had a clear answer for an audience member who insisted that the U.S. cannot deal with adherents to a "fanatical ideology." Said Clark: "No matter how fanatical people are, they still have interests and objectives" and the U.S. should find out what the interests of Iran and Syria are and determine if any of those are in common with the U.S. interests. Those nations are not direct threats to the U.S. (which is almost heresy on Fox News) he said, so the U.S. should pursue talks with them because it is impossible to conquer and occupy those countries.

Clark explained that other Arab nations are reluctant to stand up to Iran over its support for Hezbollah because of the painful images of civilians being killed by Israeli war planes.

One of his best answers came in response to an audience member who insisted Israel is really a symbol of the free world, including the U.S., in fighting Hezbollah.

While Israel may be a unique country in the Middle East due to its level of literacy and strength of its democracy, Clark said, the interests of the U.S. and Israel are not identical.

"What the United States can do to advance our ideals, and I’m speaking as an American now because that’s who I am," Clark said.

"What we can do is we have to stand for what we believe in and our values. We don’t believe in reckless bombing. We believe in humanitarian assistance. We believe in ending quarrels by the peaceful settlement of disputes and we believe in the use of war only as a last resort. So we have to follow our own principles, and in the process we should help Israel, but we should also be helping the government of Lebanon and the innocent civilians all through the area."

"Dayside" followed Clark with other talking heads, including a debate on Iraq between conservative Cal Thomas and Democratic strategist Bob Beckel. How shallow everyone else seemed in comparison.

Wesley Clark is a top dog, without a doubt.