A second country last week was threatened by President Trump with military action--Venezuela. This coincided with the ongoing nuclear threats bouncing back and forth between North Korea's leader and Trump; something the Pentagon keeps saying it has no plans for.
Saber rattling, with no serious plans to back up the threats is dangerous. Even in the past when it seemed we went into wars with adequate plans, we didn't. Just imagine the disasters the current threats could produce.
Threats of war as a foreign policy don’t work, and they are reckless.
It is a very unstable time and solid expertise on this war rhetoric is needed.
To the rescue, is General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Retired 4 Star General, West Point Valedictorian, Rhodes Scholar and Author, whom I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing on these issues. I asked him about current events and his take on what's happening. Including what it takes to win a military action, the proper way to execute it, and when it should be used. General Clark had a decisive and impressive win in Kosovo as Commander there and here's what he says is needed and what is lacking in current ongoing wars.
Learning By Example:
Winning in Kosovo-Genocide Defeated
"In 1995 I went over with Richard Holbrooke to begin negotiations with Serbian President Milosevic, and other Balkan leaders, about Bill Clinton's 7 point peace plan for Bosnia. At one point air strikes were launched inside Bosnia to pressure Serbs into the Dayton Peace accords. We negotiated a diplomatic solution with the promise of the NATO peacekeepers that ended four years of war and caused more than 100,000 deaths and created 2 million refugees. Our diplomatic solution worked in Bosnia. Three years later Milosevic kicked off an ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo. We again proposed diplomacy. The Albanians agreed to the diplomatic solutions. Milosevic would not accept the diplomatic solution and moved ahead with ethnic cleansing. An Air Campaign ensued in pursuit of the diplomatic settlement of the conflict. After 78 days, the strength of NATO made Milosevic give in and pull troops out of Kosovo and allowed Albanians to return to their homes."
And that's how it is supposed to be done to achieve a win. This is what sound, strong, informed leadership is. Diplomacy first, military pressure as a last resort.
Why it worked:
"It worked because we put diplomacy and allied unity ahead of military principles and procedure. You have to know the political or diplomatic end-state you’re seeking-not just how to use the military.”
General Clark continues:
"In contrast to what we did in Kosovo, what the US has done since 2001 is that Administrations have been enamored with military action and they've engaged in military action without having thought through the ultimate end state that they are seeking with that action.”
“In Afghanistan, we attacked in retaliation for 9/11 and for them not handing over Osama Bin Laden. But we didn't have a political plan for what would happen there when the Taliban fell. Nor did we have a military plan to actually seize Osama Bin Laden.”
“In Iraq we articulated regime change, but we threw out the efforts that were under way for planning for what would happen after we defeated Saddam's military. Everything was improv and it wasn't adequately prepared, coordinated or resourced. We ended up in a situation that was extremely difficult."
General Clark is not mincing words here. He is pretty clear on the failures of the onset of these wars. To perpetuate and continue this pattern will only bring on more of the same.
General Clark went on to rank the ongoing situations going on in the world in order of importance and what needs immediate attention and planning:
1 Russia’s challenge to the world order
2 Risk of war by miscalculation in Korea
3 Continuing terrorist threat and general instability in the Mid-East
4 China’s challenge to the rule of international law in Asia
On the fire and fury rhetoric of from Trump Administration:
Lessons of the Past
Lots of lessons to be learned here, for those who want to learn. General Clark gives absolute clarity on the right way and wrong way to go about military plans. He has outlined that leadership since 2001 has been overly focused on military action without following through to think about end goals or the diplomatic end of it. And certainly, Trump threatening a war everyday with a new nation tells the world we are not prepared to do that effectively. It is reckless and irresponsible. What that does is diminish American influence, power and respect in the world. The importance of allies and NATO--something Trump is weakening--proved to be very valuable in General Clark's win in Kosovo. History often repeats itself. Are our current leaders prepared to act the right way to stop the next genocide? A real crisis? Not current situations already in existence, but a real dire situation like what happened in Kosovo. Has the Trump Administration fostered allies and NATO relationships? The reality tells us no. This is what Americans worry about the most with all the provocative war rhetoric. It’s not a winning formula. We can only hope that leadership like General Clark's will be looked on as the right way to do things in future actions—as it should be, because when it’s done right, that’s the example that needs to be followed. Our future depends on it.