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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the day: Wesley Clark

October 2nd, 2009
07:44 PM ET

A retired four-star general in the U.S. Army, General Wesley Clark served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander between 1997 and 2000.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/02/wes.clark.art.jpg caption="Wesley Clark speaks about a variety of issues."]

The no-nonsense Vietnam veteran presided over Operation Allied Force, a large scale NATO air campaign against the former Yugoslavia during the conflict in Kosovo in 1999.

The following year he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, to compliment his considerable list of military honors which include a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.

In 2004 he made a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but failed to secure the required support in the primaries in Virginia and Tennessee to position himself as the most viable alternative to eventual nominee John Kerry.

He now works as an investment banker, and is a frequent public speaker, author, and commentator for CNN.

Having served in the frontline during campaigns as brutal as the current conflict in Afghanistan, let us know what you would like to ask him below.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Ron Henderson

    Why do CNN and its ilk headline possitive stories so negatively? For example: "US troops die as Taliban Swarm..." They could have better said: Taliban supper heavy losses attacking US and Afghanistan troops... Do you not think it is time to ban biased media coverage?

    October 4, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  2. steve

    do you think NATO has less credibility now than it did when you were part of it?

    October 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  3. Khalid

    If you were the C-in-C,how you would have handled the Afghan war,and relations with Pakistan?Secondly,is Pakistan part of the problem or part of the solution?

    October 5, 2009 at 10:06 am | Reply
  4. Irina

    When Republic of Macedonia will become a member of NATO?

    October 5, 2009 at 10:09 am | Reply
  5. Osbert

    Sir, as a former NCO, I remembered NATO as a viable resource during the Cold War; however, in recent times I see them as being a weak partner and think that maybe the US should reconsider her position as a parnter and possibly pullout of NATO because they seem to want the US to go it alone? Your thoughts?

    October 5, 2009 at 10:49 am | Reply
  6. hans

    What is your relationship to Serbia now? Have you been back to the Balkans? What is your impression of history there since the conflict in 1999?

    October 5, 2009 at 11:09 am | Reply
  7. david

    Why is the U.S. government not supporing the miltiary disabled Vets. the President in his budget for the defense added that those who retired under chap 61 and receive retired military pay and VA disability pay would receive both. It's called concurrent receipt of retired military pay. right now the military reduce our retired pay dollar for dollar on what we receive in VA disbility pay. those who are retired with more than 20 years receive both. It was in the H.R. bill and the senate version, but were taken out. That is discrimination and not supporting us Vets. I have 19 years, 3 month and 20 days on active duty and was retired with a disability under chap 61 and should receive both. Please get the word out and start asking why the government is not supporting all the retired Vets. Thanks David

    October 5, 2009 at 11:18 am | Reply
  8. Jason

    Are we likely to see a new counter-alliance to NATO emerge similar to the old Warsaw Pact? IE: Russia, Venezuela, Iran, China, North Korea.

    October 5, 2009 at 11:21 am | Reply
  9. Lee

    Why are you being paraded as "someone to ask" on a variety of topics? your background is really very limited to be addressing a variety of topics. Is this the CNN way of simply propping you up as their potential Presidential candidate? Otherwise, why are you doing this?

    October 5, 2009 at 11:24 am | Reply
  10. Brian Morgan

    What will it take to help NATO return to it's prior position of authority in the international community?

    Fame will mix with '66-

    October 5, 2009 at 11:28 am | Reply
  11. Arvin

    The US military has spread itself too thinly over Iraq and Afghanistan and is in need of a clear and concise strategy, including an exit plan. Iraq is fast turning out to be the US version of the Soviet-Afghanistan drama. What can you comment on this?

    October 5, 2009 at 11:30 am | Reply
  12. David McGown

    Was the war in Iraq necessary? Is the war in Afghanistan winnable?

    October 5, 2009 at 11:46 am | Reply
  13. Anurag Mohanty

    Hello Sir
    Do you foresee a US Iran war.If Yes, what are its chances of developing into another World War?

    October 5, 2009 at 11:50 am | Reply
  14. Daniel Lohmeyer

    Have we underestimated the degree to which Pakistani's, Egyptian's and Afghani's support ideal's upheld by (among others) Al Qaeda?

    Do you think that the threats seen in Afghanistan and Pakistan will increasingly directly affect (the as-yet directly unaffected) NATO.

    If you only had one paragraph in which to mentor any Allied Military Commander what would you advise? (Not so much tactics as inner motive?)

    October 5, 2009 at 11:52 am | Reply
  15. Paolo

    Gen. Clark,

    I have been puzzled for quite a long time by the events occurred in June 1999, regarding the Pristina Airport "incident", when russian troops secured the airport, which was meant to be secured by your troops. People have blamed, in turn, Javier Solana (for giving you the orders, regardless of the circumstances), Gen. Jackson (the british general who refused to carry out your orders: "I am not going to start the third world war for you"), yourself, etc...

    At 10 years from that event, what is your view of the incident?

    Thanks and Regards

    October 5, 2009 at 11:56 am | Reply
  16. SG

    In true sense, how successful really NATO is toodays world as a counterbalance to negate the growing influence of China, Russia and their allies?

    October 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  17. Dr Zeljko Prijovich

    There was scores of civilians, both Serbs and Albanians, killed by NATO during war against Yugoslavia (which was not aproved by UN). Was it an act of agresion, are those killings war crimes and if yes, are you a war criminal?

    October 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  18. Dan

    How much communication should there be between the general on the ground in Afghanistan and the President? Only one phone call since becoming president seems negligent.

    October 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  19. Vadim Kramer

    In application of which absolute right did the Americans agitate for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, ten years after Milosevic's regime had fallen, and at the same time scoff at the Russians last year, for the Georgian provinces?

    Were American diplomacy consistent in this respect, it would befit more to leave the Serbs with their nationalist (genocidal?) government at the helm. Then, at least, there would be an adequate excuse for rending away Kosovo. As it is, are the Albanians in Kosovo in more danger now from the Serbs than are the Ossetians and Abkhazians from the Georgians? - hardly, if the seed of democracy planted by America is as potent in Serbia as it is in Georgia.

    (Not to say that, as it is, Kosovo is immeasurably weaker now than it would be in an alliance with Boris Tadic's Serbia, being a country tender and without institutions.)

    October 5, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  20. Bill B.

    General –

    I was a Marine infantryman wounded in the Khe Sanh Hillfights some 40+ years ago. It is my opinion, after all the battles that Americans won in Vietnam, all the heroic deeds of service men & women and all the good things we tried to in that country, that the 58,360 men and woman who died in that war have one overriding commonality: They all died for nothing!

    To date, 4347 have died in Iraq, a country left in a shamble due to White House malfeasance and ineptness at the Pentagon. Is there any reason to believe the continuing loss of American life in Afghanistan will be any less defensible than that of those valiant troops who gave their lives in Vietnam or Iraq (or, for that matter Korea or the Marines of Beruit)?

    October 5, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  21. Paulo Borges

    Do you think that America will, one day, be a civilized equal member of the international community or will it continue with it's medieval drive to dominate and exploit the world until it crumbles as all greedy empires of the past did?

    October 5, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  22. Bob

    Don't you think it's time that the USA stopped trying and being the policeman for the entire world? Also, don't you think it's time the divisions STOPPED in BOTH the political parties Republican and Democrat and that Congress untited FINALLY and saw the Karzai Government for what it really is corrupt and weak and the same for the Malickli Government in Iraq....and we said either get it right or go it alone.

    We cannot continue to shovel tax dollars to corrupt governments, no matter how many contractors we make rich doing it.

    October 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  23. henry laycock

    Hasn't the US intervention in Afghanistan actually made things much worse? There seem to be a lot more people opposing the US forces now than when the intervention began. The many civilian dead do not help. Does the US really understand what it is doing? Isn't this intervention just one of a long line of invasions by foreign forces, including the Russians and the British, all of which have ended in withdrawal at enormous cost?

    October 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  24. Ivo (Netherlands)

    Adding possibly India, Japan, South-Korea and also Australia to NATO would provide an enormous potential for a stronger NATO now and into the future. Should NATO Expand itself into Asia.

    October 5, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  25. Lauren

    How did you go about soliciting resources when you were in charge of NATO? Did you find that you were properly listened to?

    October 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  26. Srikanth

    I believe the Jehadi movements of today may not have been so fierce had the west not supported the jehadists during the Afghan-Soviet war. Your comments.

    October 5, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  27. coffeejoe

    All Americans, Red White ,Blue or other are in for a surprise. When they realize – too late – , the damage a few elected have wrought. These "employees of the People" and their Media henchmen are about to change America into a Brazil or worse.

    Unless we stop them first.

    No Government is good, but we must have government, so make it a small one

    October 5, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  28. johan

    How much longer can President Obama postpone the question of winning the Afghan war? If he is forced to resign – pace Dick Nixon, who was an extremely competent president – how do you rate Joe Biden as No 45??
    J.B. has never worked outside the Washington 'box' and so will preserve the image of Democrats as spineless and dangerous 'leaders'-particularly at this sad epoch in the life(?) of the West..??

    October 5, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  29. robert patel

    Hi Becky,
    Judging by all the comments and critical reviews of Nato capabilities in Afghanistan,I just wonder if Nato is that poorly prepared in terms of resources to fight such a bloody conflict or is it that they seriously underestimated problems/resouces in this engagements.

    It does not do Nato's reputation much good if they are struggling against Taliban so much so that Taliban is set to regain their major losses and re-engage in conflict.

    October 5, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  30. Moosemuss

    Sir –

    Have you read "Warriors Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting"? I assume you are familiar with COL MacGregor. Can you comment on his assertion that the Generals are to blame both for the fact that we didn't finish the job in 1991 when we had the initiative (thereby sparing the Kurds and Shiites when they acted on the President's call for insurrection against Saddam), and for the fact that we are still here today because we fought a war of occupation?

    Enjoying my third tour, Sir.

    October 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  31. peter

    Encircling and neutralizing Russia is one of NATO's long range strategic goals?

    If not then why the open and one-sided support to Georgia and Ukraine?

    October 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  32. josh

    In hindsight do you think that NATO's campaign against Serbia was politically worthwhile viewed in comparision to the failure of NATO to include engagement with Russia through Partnership for Peace which originally was instituted to include Russia in a Europe wide security apparatus? What do you think NATO could have done differently 10 years ago in order to prevent the return to Great Power politics bewteen Russia and the west that we see today?

    October 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  33. Fulvio

    General,
    as I appreciate the operate of the US armed forces, I have to thank all the US serviceman and women if I'm still alive (rescued from a Liberia civil war trouble in 1984 about, while on board a liberian flag tanker discharging in Monrovia), I have just one question:
    Why the USA start something (Vietnam,Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc) and doesn't finish the started job properly inspite of the valour of the servicemen involved and too much dead?
    Thank You

    October 5, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  34. Chris

    what's your forecast for the next 2 years in M&A activities in particular the healthcare and energy sector?

    Thank you. C

    October 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  35. patrick

    I remember when JFK decided to increase the number of military to Vietnam.1st term ,as not to seem weak.I think It was G.Ball who said "your crazy as hell" Then Johnson was suck in,then the terminology changed too hearts and mind of the people. Now with a few more troops McCyistal wants40,000 more.WHY? What will change?I was in Vietnam I remember,why do you think this will not happen your not going too change this with out help from the international community.the only ones making out are contracters they make zillions off WAR

    October 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  36. Michelle

    In the context of the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan: A government that will send her children to war to be maimed, traumatized and killed without the necessary resources to care, mend and prepare them for the difficulties that lie ahead, is a government without conscience, without soul. If there are no resources to care for these service members, then how can there be resources to continue sending them?

    October 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  37. Michael Alexander

    Our individual NATO-member nations still falling further and further behind the U.S. military in technological advancements (military order of battle) or are NATO member-nations closing the gap and relying less on the U.S. for sophisticated military hardware and personnel?

    October 5, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  38. Keira

    Why wasn't there a bigger campaign - either by NATO or coalition forces - to go into Afghanistan years ago instead of now? If the goal was to defeat Al-Qaeda and bring the Taliban 'under control' why now and not back in 2002?

    October 5, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  39. RJ

    Based on your NATO experiences, what advice would you have for National Security Advisor James Jones regading NATO operations in Afghanistan?

    October 5, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  40. Zord

    I'm a researcher of OAF, made interviews of Serbian as well as NATO participants, for example Col. Dani Zoltan, an ethnic Hungarian, who commanded the SA-3 battery which brough down Lt. Col. Dale Zelko's F-177 on 990327, 2043 local time (look JED for my article).

    How come NATO (or US) SIGINT was unable to pinpoint Serbian SAM units, and how come there was not a dedicated campaign from the beginning of OAF to eradicate Serbian early warning (for example VHF band Spoon Rest and Tall King) radars to prevent them building an air picture?

    Zord Gabor

    October 5, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  41. EU

    Dear general,

    Please can you abolish cold-war creature called NATO?

    A European

    October 5, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  42. Eugene

    Gen Clark, What is your take on McCrystal taking a public stand against his commander, in effect putting pressure on the President to follow the general's strategy, rather than accepting his role as subordinate to the commander-in-chief and emgaging in private talks?

    October 5, 2009 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  43. Qamar

    Hello General,

    Western civilization have guilt and regret for Holocaust which was they couldnt stop because Nazis were a formidable force at that time. However hundreds of thousands died in Bosnia, Albania,Congo etc on the brink of 21st century, when US was the only superpower and stoping a genocide was just a matter of a phone call in angry tone. So kindly please tell us what made US act so late or not to act at all during those years and even now.

    October 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  44. Wolfgang Schulz

    General,
    while always having been a fan of yours (then hoping you would become U.S. President, the first General since Eisenhower):

    do you believe that the modern armies of the World (and their sophisticated equipment), mostly structured after large-scale wars like WW-2, or dating back to the Cold War era, are the correct answer to the asymmetrical wars encountered these days, causing huge "collateral damage", which, in turn, might eventually lose those wars, politically?
    Would a Montgomery or a Rommel have the answer if they were alive?
    Thank you.

    October 6, 2009 at 12:33 am | Reply
  45. David Muzumbuku

    Sir, I think P5+1 should all get together and come up with a no kidding common denominator which will bring an end to the war in Afghanistan! What do you think general?

    October 6, 2009 at 3:26 am | Reply
  46. yokel

    When is the US going to replace the M4 with a reliable and penetrative rifle that won't get our troops killed in the field? Enough BS about Colt's 'proven'... 'accurate'... 'good enough'... excuse for a modern assault rifle that should have been replaced ages ago. A new system, larger round, would cost us, oh, 3 F-22 Raptors? When?

    October 6, 2009 at 3:48 am | Reply

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