Wesley Clark's stands on the critical issues facing our country make him a very attractive candidate for the Presidency. His experience and credibility, especially with respect to foreign policy and homeland security, as well as his progressive stance on domestic issues, give him a strong opportunity to challenge and beat President Bush in the 2004 election.
Here are some of Clark's stated positions, in his own words. For more information, check out the new Clark FAQ!
The United States has an active role to play in the world, especially in preserving and extending our core values around the globe; however, we must still balance our actions and convictions with the ideals and opinions of other nations.
- "The United States is a 225-year rolling revolution. ... We are the embodiment of the Enlightenment. If we're true to those principles, then it's a foreign policy of generosity, humility, engagement, and of course force where it is needed. But as a last resort."
- "What I learned during my time in Europe was that the strongest force in the world is an idea whose time has come. In Europe, and in much of the rest of the world, freedom, human rights, international law, and the opportunity to 'be all you can be' are those ideas today. For the most part, these are our own American values. And they are ideas whose formulation and dissemination owe much to American example and leadership in the past. Because we live and extol these values, the United States enjoys a solid ethical basis for its power, a supportive community of like-minded nations and international institutions, and a moral force that extends our influence. Preserving these ideas and projecting our values should therefore be ranked among the most important American interests."
- "We must still recognize and respect the strong convictions of others, especially when they disagree with us. No doubt, our ideas will appear challenging or even dangerous to some. We have to balance our pride in our heritage with humility in our rhetoric. Living up to our values will cost resources that could always be used elsewhere. We can't do everything. But doing what we can will likely mean that we occasionally send our men and women abroad, into ambiguous, dangerous situations. But these are the burdens we must carry, if we expect to maintain the benefits we currently enjoy. They provide hope for others, and a purpose beyond our own prosperity. "
However, to carry out our responsibilities around the world, strong multilateral relationships are critical; the United States cannot always 'go it alone'.
- "Shared risks, shared burdens, shared benefits -- it's not only a good motto for NATO, it's also a good prescription for America's role in the world."
- "Achieving success will be easier the more that American actions can be drawn from the legitimacy of the United Nations and American direction ratified by other states and multinational authorities."
- "The United States has the opportunity to use the power of the international institutions it established to triumph over terrorists who threaten not just the United States, but the world. What a tragedy it will be if we walk away from our own efforts, and from 60 years of post-World War II experience, to tackle the problem of terror without using fully the instruments of international law and persuasion that we ourselves created."
- "[With regards to Iraq,] rather than presenting the international community with a problem and asking its assistance in helping to resolve it, the United States government effectively presented the solution and asked for countries to agree with its views."
- "This is an administration which really hasn't respected our allies. If you really want allies, you've got to listen to their opinions, you've got to take them seriously, you've got to work with their issues."
Working productively with America's allies is critical to winning the war against terrorism.
- "Terrorism is a multilateral problem. You cannot defeat it in one nation. You need international police work, teamwork, international harmonization of laws against terror, a whole series of things. You act unilaterally; you lose the commitment of your allies to make it work. That's the one thing that will kill you in the war on terrorism."
- "Much of the terrorist network draws support and resources from within countries friendly or allied with us. And here there are very real limitations to the use of American military force. What we really need are closer alignments... Through greater legal, judicial, and police harmonization, we need to make the international environment more seamless for us than it is for the international terrorists we seek."
- "For better or worse, however, the war against terror appears to be under exclusive American control. And every twinge of American decision-making that smacks others as U.S. unilateralism undercuts our friends abroad, the very people who must align their laws and procedures with our own if we are to win."
The United States needs to keep homeland security and the war against terrorism at the top of our list of national priorities; we can't be distracted by other entanglements, including Iraq, that might divert our attention.
- "The issue to me has been that we have known for a long time that Osama bin Laden is a problem. The difficulty was always to mobilize the American people and bring enough comprehensive pressure to bear to do something against terrorism. Well, 9-11 did that. But the administration has squandered a lot of the international goodwill that came our way after the attacks and is now squandering our domestic energy by forcing us into Iraq."
- The Bush administration's mistake in Iraq, says Clark, is one of priorities. "They picked war over law. They picked a unilateralist approach over a multilateral approach. They picked conventional forces over special-operations forces. And they picked Saddam Hussein as a target over Osama bin Laden."
Protecting civil liberties and reexamining the PATRIOT Act
- "One of the things about the war on terror that I am disturbed about is that we've essentially suspended habeas corpus, which is something that's only been done once in American history and then only for a very brief period. When I go back and think about the atmosphere in which the PATRIOT Act was passed, it begs for a reconsideration and review. And it should be done. Law enforcement agencies will always chafe at any restriction whatsoever when they're in the business of trying to get their job done. But in practice we've always balanced the need for law enforcement with our own protection of our constitutional rights and that's a balance that will need to be reviewed."
- "I think one of the risks you have in this operation is that you're giving up some of the essentials of what it is in America to have justice, liberty and the rule of law. I think you've got to be very, very careful when you abridge those rights to prosecute the war on terrorists. So I think that needs to be carefully looked at."
Pro-choice and pro-affirmative action
- Clark told Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect in an interview that he favors both abortion rights and affirmative action.
- "[From my childhood in Arkansas,] I saw first hand the racial prejudice, the civil disobedience, the intolerance. I've often gone back to that experience. It's something I've related to."
- "I'm in favor of the principle of affirmative action. Whether [the University of Michigan's affirmative action plan] is the right plan or not, and whether that should be 10 points, not 20 points, whether it should be, let's say, an income level cutoff there at which you don't get the points if you're above a certain income, you can tool with the plan. But what you can't have is you can't have a society in which we're not acknowledging that there is a problem in this society with racial discrimination. There is, there has been and the reason so many of us filed [an amicus brief in support of the University of Michiganā€™s affirmative action plan] is we saw the benefits of affirmative action in the United States armed forces. It was essential in restoring the integrity and the effectiveness of the armed forces."
- "100 years out, the only things we leave behind that will matter are the environment and constitutional legitimacy."¯
- "I am not one of those people who will rule out nuclear energy as a contributor to dealing with the energy problem. We've just got lots of things we need to do on energy conservation and energy generation, and especially renewable energy resources. The means are out there to take a much greater percentage of our energy needs from the sun, from solar, and from wind, and even from wave action. And I would hope that we would move ahead in those areas much more rapidly than we have been."¯
- "Human beings do affect the environment and all you have to do is fly along the Andes and look at the disappearing glaciers down there and you recognize that there is something called global warming and it's just getting started as China and India modernize."
- "In general, I am inclined not to support drilling in the [Alaskan] National Wildlife Refuge. I've looked at the issue, but the gains in terms of U.S. energy independence are relatively marginal. It's an important redline in terms of trying to protect a pristine area in the environment."¯
Protecting, nurturing, and strengthening families
- "I grew up in an armed forces that treated everyone as a valued member of the team. Everyone got health care, and the army cared about the education of everyone's family members. It wasn't the attitude that you find in some places, where people are fending for themselves and the safety net doesn't work."
Sound economic policy and a rejection of the Bush Administration tax cuts
- "I would not have supported [the tax cuts]. They were not efficient in terms of stimulating the kind of demand we need to move the economy back into a recovery mode, a strong recovery and a recovery that provides jobs. There are more effective ways of using the resources. Secondly, the tax cuts weren't fair. I mean, the people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it's not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don't have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life. When you have more money, you have room for the luxuries and one of the luxuries and one of the privileges we enjoy is living in this great country. So I think that the tax cuts were unfair. And, finally, I mean, you look at the long-run health of the country and the size of the deficit that we've incurred and a substantial part of that deficit is result of the tax cuts. You have to ask: "Is this wise, long-run policy? I think the answer is no."
- "You've got to put the country back on a fiscally sound basis, whether that is in suspending parts [of the tax cuts] that haven't been implemented or rescinding parts, that'd have to be looked at... Taxes are something that you want to have as little of as possible, but you need as much revenue as necessary to meet people's needs for services. The American people on the one hand don't like taxes. None of us do, but on the other hand, we expect the government to do certain things for us."
- Clark says he supports many htmects of former president Clinton's economic policy, especially "the basic policy of trying to reduce public-sector debt, which produced a lot of confidence in financial communities around the world."
Supporting the families of America's military
- "Put simply, the quality of youth education remains a key factor in the retention and recruitment of personnel in the armed forces. Beyond mere expedience, our nation must assure that the children of its armed forces personnel are provided a top quality education. The United States military force is highly educated and its members hold the same expectations for their childrenĀ´s education."