• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Gen. Wesley Clark Fights On and On

At the beginning of the Kosovo conflict,CounterPunch delved into the military career of General Wesley Clark and discovered that his meteoric rise through the ranks derived from the successful manipulation of appearances: faking the results of combat exercises, greasing to superiors and other practices common to the general officer corps. We correctly predicted that the unspinnable realities of a real war would cause him to become unhinged. Given that Clark attempted to bomb the CNN bureau in Belgrade and ordered the British General Michael Jackson to engage Russian troops in combat at the end of the war, we feel events amply vindicated our forecast.

With the end of hostilities it has become clear even to Clark that most people, apart from some fanatical members of the war party in the White House and State Department, consider the general, as one Pentagon official puts it, “a horse’s ass”. Defense Secretary William Cohen is known to loathe him, and has seen to it that the Hammer of the Serbs will be relieved of the Nato command two months early.

Adding to this humiliation have been numerous post-war reports from the ground in Kosovo making it clear that the air campaign supervised by Clark inflicted little damage on the Serb army. Derisive comments from Serb generals on the general ineffectiveness of Nato’s tactical air campaign have only rubbed salt in his wounds. Accordingly, on September 16, in a desperate effort to redeem the tarnished record of his military command, Clark summoned the Nato press corps in Brussels to hear his own version of events.

True to form, Clark’s presentation opened with a gross distortion of the truth: “From the outset of this campaign, we said we would be attacking on two air lines of operation. There would be a strategic attack line” against Serb air defenses, headquarters, supply lines and a “tactical line of operation against the Serb forces in Kosovo and in southern Serbia”.

In fact, neither Clark nor anyone else in the U.S. chain of command imagined that the war would involve more than a brief demonstration of Nato firepower in the forms of attacks on air defense radars, communications centers and other fixed targets, thus providing Milosevic with the excuse the U.S. thought he wanted to throw in his hand.
“The Joint Chiefs went along with [the war] on the strict understanding that it would last a maximum of two days”, says one Pentagon official with direct knowledge of these events. “No one really planned for what to do after that.”

Clark intended the briefing to provide unassailable confirmation of his wartime claims that Nato pilots had destroyed hundreds of Serb tanks and other heavy weapons. Yet he had a problem, since the teams he dispatched to Kosovo immediately after the war could only find 26 tanks and self-propelled artillery pieces destroyed on the ground. Accordingly, Clark tried to dazzle his audience with military managerial techno-speak about the “building block methodology” employed in preparing his assessment, which permitted NATO’s supreme commander to add another 67 “successful strikes” to the “catastrophic kills” represented by the 26 tanks and self-propelled artillery pieces he had already claimed.

With the sleight of hand of a true briefer, Clark left the impression in the minds of the press corps that in each of these 67 strikes the targets had actually been destroyed. But the “methodology” meant merely that the target was added to the score so long as two or more sources-i.e. the pilot’s claim, plus perhaps video footage or a report from someone else in the area-indicated that the weapon had hit the target. With such casuistry, Clark was able to inflate the total figure to 93-not far from the wartime boast of 110 such kills.

Even the paltry claim of 26 destroyed targets in this category should be viewed with skepticism. An alert friend of CounterPunch in the defense community points out that slide # 27 in the briefing features a “tank” destroyed by a U.S. Navy F-14 mission. Actually, slide #27 shows not a tank but a second world war U.S. tank destroyer known as the M-36, famously ineffective even when introduced in 1943, and later donated to Yugoslavia some time in the 1950s. Perhaps, our friend suggests, “The Yugos took one look at what they got, and then put the things in front of the nearest VFW-equivalent meeting halls. Then, along come [the Nato attacks] and the word goes out: ‘we need hulks to serve as decoys for the Americans to blow up.’ Wes Clark & staff collect the imagery and proudly display their ‘kill'”.

This same observer notes that the Pentagon is working on what will be a “lying, cheating, thieving” after-action report, basing his description on news that the work is being supervised by deputy defense secretary John Hamre, a noted time-server and catspaw of the uniformed military.

Among the many issues the report is not expected to address is the sudden disappearance, half way through the conflict, of the $2 billion B-2 stealth bomber, described by Clark as one of the “heroes” of the war. Forty-three days into the conflict, the B-2 was reported as having flown “nearly fifty” sorties. When the war ended after 78 days of bombing, an authoritative report stated that the B-2 had flown a total of 49 missions, indicating that it “fell out of the war” half way through. Presumably, the costly behemoths were deteriorating at such a rate that the Air Force decided to relegate the plane to its alternative mission as backdrop for President Clinton’s demonstrations of martial resolve on TV.

Another topic on which we may expect Hamre to remain diplomatically silent is the ingenuity with which the Serbs diverted the anti-radar Harm missiles launched in enormous numbers by Nato’s planes. Early on, the Serbs discovered that a microwave oven, adjusted to operate with the door open, appears exactly like an air defense radar to the $750,000 missiles – a very cost-effective exchange.

Despite such embarrassments, Clark can take heart from the fact that his influence on warfare already transcends the Balkans. Since Operation Allied Force laid waste to the Serbian civilian infrastructure, the targeting of such infrastructure has become routine and acceptable. The Israelis, who have for years shown relative care in avoiding the Lebanese infrastructure in their raids, were quick to change tactics, citing the Balkan operation as a legitimizing precedent. More recently the gangsters in the Kremlin have used the same justification for their terror-bombing of Chechnya.

Since Clark may be chagrined at his reception in post-war Washington, he should perhaps look to Tel Aviv and Moscow for a more fulsome recognition of his role in history.

CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink co-written with Joshua Frank. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail