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[ALBSA-Info] A New Atlantic Charter: NEWSWEEK Interview with Gen. Wesley Clark

Gazhebo at Gazhebo at
Tue Jun 5 13:31:08 EDT 2001

A New Atlantic Charter
An interview with Gen. Wesley Clark


Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld spoke recently of pulling U.S. troops out of the Balkans. Secretary of State Colin Powell, touring Africa, told reporters that the Bush administration is looking for opportunities to "back off" some of America?s overseas commitments, adding: "The president wants that." Such talk makes Gen. Wesley Clark nervous. As the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the war in Kosovo, and author of a newly published memoir, "Waging Modern War," Clark has been a forceful advocate of humanitarian interventionism and American engagement in the world, especially Europe. Last week he spoke with NEWSWEEK?s Michael Meyer. Excerpts:

MEYER: In early 1998, seeing war coming in Kosovo, you urged Washington to intervene before the situation got out of hand. But you were told to back off by Gen. Joe Ralston of the Joint Chiefs: "We?ve got a lot on our plates back here." Are you feeling a bit of deja vu? 

CLARK: It?s worse. We?re seeing the same institutional infighting as in the past, with the Pentagon pushing its own interests and no clear vision of where it is going in terms of U.S. leadership in the world.

How so, exactly? 

The cold war is over. But we haven?t come to terms with this. 

We hear a lot of talk of preparing for the "next threat," whether that?s rogue missiles or new enemies. The cold war is over. But we haven?t come to terms with this. Our new world is not dominated by one hostile ideology that seeks, as Khrushchev put it, to "bury us." It?s about democracy, individuality, choice. Our new challenges involve cooperation more than confrontation. The strategic problem the U.S. faces is how to help its friends, strengthen its allies, reinforce those who share its values. We haven?t thought this through, articulated our goals. Our policies will therefore be haphazard and episodic.

What?s the main challenge, as you see it? 

Europe. The rivalry between the United States and the European Union is worse than during Kosovo. Yes, our allies in Latin America and Asia are important. But I look first to Europe. It?s our natural base?with 400 to 500 million people, depending on how you define its borders, and a GDP as big as our own. We share a history and culture. Europe has two votes on the U.N. Security Council. Together with us, they?re the force that can move and shape diplomacy to promote peace and progress in the world. We are a de facto member of Europe, and the Balkans is therefore a vital U.S. interest.

Newsweek International June 11 Issue  
Yet in Bosnia, Secretary Rumsfeld says "mission accomplished." 
The easy military tasks have been accomplished?the return of territory, separating the warring forces, patrolling flash points. But peace has not been achieved. Neither have the Dayton accords, in part because of pusillanimous ... that?s too strong a word ... because of hesitant, excessively cautious international civilian leadership. It takes a combination of strong, forceful, determined civilian leadership and forward, active military engagement on the ground to ensure success. The military mission is not finished.

What about Kosovo? 

Much of the violence is impelled by our failure to address the issue of "final status." In 1999, when the fighting began, we knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reintegrate Kosovo into Yugoslavia. Humpty Dumpty had fallen off the wall. Independence may or may not ultimately be the best solution for Kosovo, but it has to be an option. The West is going to have to sponsor a process by which that will be determined. It can?t happen without active U.S. participation and possibly U.S. leadership.

Why couldn?t that be Europe?s job? 

Because of the varying and often conflicting interests of many European nations, not only Yugoslavia?s neighbors but also countries farther removed that might be dealing with their own separatist movements. They are going to need reassurance, shoring up, firm commitments of support on many different dimensions.    

Such as Macedonia? 

Yes. Macedonia needs urgent NATO assistance.

Troops on the ground? 

Absolutely. It?s time to act.

Any thoughts on next week?s Europe summit? 

We need a new Atlantic Charter. Europeans have always questioned the real strength of America?s commitment, but never so deeply. On our side, there?s talk of "differing interests," worries about a separate European defense force. We need to tell Europe, in clear and certain terms, that the United States will be there to help meet any security challenge, whether it requires a company of U.S. Marines or three divisions and all our air assets, as in Kosovo. And we need assurance that Europe will always turn first to NATO.

The talk may be more about missile defense ... 

Yes, but the important thing is a new charter. Then second-level discussions, like missile defense, will take their rightful place, to be decided in consultation with our allies.

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