Clark says he can keep U.S. safe from attacks

Wesley Clark said yesterday the two greatest lies of the last three years are that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks couldn’t have been prevented and that another attack is inevitable.

He said a Clark administration would protect America in the future.

“If I’m president of the United States, I’m going to take care of the American people,” Clark said in a meeting with the Monitor editorial board. “We are not going to have one of these incidents.”

Clark, a retired Army general, envisioned a future in which Americans “have more confidence in ourselves as a people.” He continued: “Nothing is going to hurt this country – not bioweapons, not a nuclear weapon, not a terrorist strike – there is nothing that can hurt us if we stay united and move together and have a vision for moving to the future the right way.”

This is a stunningly stupid thing to say. Twice:

“I think it could have been prevented,” he said of the Sept. 11 attacks. “I think it can be prevented again if we have the right leadership. That’s me. I will protect America.”

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, one of Clark’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, also met with the Monitor editorial board yesterday. When a Monitor editor read Clark’s comments regarding the inevitability of 9/11 or a future attack, Edwards called Clark’s comments overstated.

“We are vulnerable; we are always vulnerable,” Edwards said. “It is very difficult for us defensively to prevent an attack from occurring. . . . As long as we live as we live now, there is always going to be a hole somewhere.”

Edwards is, of course, absolutely right on this. Clearly, measures can be taken to make us safer. It’s even debatable as to whether whatever Clark’s plan is–and so far, I haven’t heard it–would work better than the current policy over the long haul. But total security is not possible in a free society. Indeed, I’m not sure it’s possible even in a society with greatly restricted freedoms: Even knowing who its enemy is and where they’re coming from, Israel has suffered attack after attack.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Lemon says:

    Read Clark’s comments carefully and deconstruct them as a good po-mo would. No policy is offered; Clark simply offers himself. To be safer, America doesn’t need an anti-terrorism policy, it just needs Clark.

    Granted this might not be fair as the media rarely give candidates space to specify policy, although the noble general weighs in on taxes in today’s WSJ. However, Clark doesn’t even try to give a twinkling of a hint of how to make us safer.

    To paraphrase a candidate familiar to Gen. Clark, “‘Wesley Clark’ is not a policy.”

  2. John Lemon says:

    Hey! It is Friday night and you are blogging at 22:34?! I at least have an excuse for being at the PC at this hour on a party night — I have kids!

  3. JW says:

    It hasn’t occured to anyone that Clark, as a former four-star general, is simply used to saying something and it being so? The Army IS a “society with greatly restricted freedoms”. Clark is exhibiting the most dangerous attitude possible in a politician seeking the Presidency–a total conflation of the office and the man holding it, i.e. “I am the State”.