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Dec 27, 2003 1:43 am

What can you do with a general?

With all the talk about the conspicuous silence of the Democratic presidential candidates, Wesley Clark is very carefully edging his way into the picture. Clark writes occasional editorials for the Times of London and a few U.S. papers and appears regularly on CNN, shining especially on the latter stage. It helps, of course, that CNN seems to have accidentally given one of their accountants a lead anchor role during this time of crisis. Brown is usually stumbling and confused—perhaps like much of CNN’s moderate audience—and Clark manages to be both reassuring and cautioning. Very early on he pointed out his concerns about our invasion inspiring the long sought-after pan-Arabism of Nasser, et al. He also was relatively early and frank in his assessment of the inadequacy of ground forces.

Will this be enough of a media war for the media generals to gain more political steam than the real ones? During the Kosovo campaign, Debra Dickerson recounts in Slate, Bill Cohen ordered the media-savvy Clark"Get your f------ face off the TV!" The retired Clark is now getting more live TV time than the president.


Why exactly did Colin Powell want State over Defense? Powell was at least partially responsible for the recent diplomatic disaster leading up to this war and would likely have handled the war planning better than Rummy. (Franks's plan or no, Powell would almost certainly have followed his own doctrine and brought more forces to the fight.) Yet, it's widely reported that Powell repeatedly had opportunities to voice criticism of the invasion plans and refrained from doing so.

Powell's puzzling behavior is reminiscent of that of John Quincy Adams during his tenure in the State Department. However, Adams's unpredictable positions were motivated by career concerns—his chances for the presidency were more important than ideological consistency. What is Powell's career future?

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