Chicago Sun-Times
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Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark: touts Obama on national security, says some GOP 2012 hopefuls want Iran war

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WASHINGTON--Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark will deliver a strong defense of President Obama's military and national security record Monday, as the Democratic National Committee puts a spotlight on Republican inconsistencies in advance of CNN's debate Tuesday with the GOP presidential hopefuls.

The Tuesday debate focus will be on national security and the DNC is organizing a press conference this afternoon with Clark, a former presidential candidate, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Ret. Major General Paul Eaton. The GOP debate last week showed, the DNC said in a statement, "the Republican field is not ready for the world stage." The CNN-hosted Republican takes place in Washington starting at 8 p.m. est.

Clark is expected to say at the press conference that Obama "in making the call to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice, President Obama showed America's resolve and proved once again the extraordinary capabilities of our national security forces. Now, al-Qaeda is weaker than at any point since 9/11."

More excerpts from Clark's anticipated remarks:

President Obama has kept his word and is ending the war in Iraq, has already brought more than 100,000 troops home, and the rest will be home by the end of this year.


With unprecedented international cooperation, we are imposing the toughest sanctions Iran has ever faced and are committed to ensuring Iran never develops a nuclear weapon.

As President, he has kept America safe, maintained our values, supported our allies and friends around the world, and shaped strong, visionary policies.

Republicans All Over the Map, Inconsistent Positions

While President Obama has kept his promises across the globe, the leading Republicans have been all over the map - offering sound-bite critiques and shifting positions with every change in the headlines as they seek partisan advantage.

In his first major address on foreign policy, delivered one month ago at The Citadel, one candidate made a scant, passing reference to Iraq - then a couple of weeks later, he accused the President of failing to make an orderly transition in Iraq - when, in fact it hasn't even happened yet but it has been well planned and exhaustively considered.


At the same time, some of the candidates seem to be rattling the sabres for a war with Iran, with one candidate placing heavy emphasis on covert action as though he just invented the idea, and that nothing is happening - which is cute, since the definition of covert action is that it is not acknowledged. One veteran candidate's position has evolved from needing to consult lawyers about how to proceed in 2007, to an eagerness for military action now that gives many of us pause.


One candidate said of Osama bin Laden, "it's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." But like all of us, he cheered his demise.
In fact, the candidates have had multiple and confusing positions on Afghanistan. One praised President Obama's troop surge and concurred with the idea of later taking combat troops out of Afghanistan, while criticizing setting a withdrawal date. Then he suggested U.S. troops should stay there. Then he said he'd like to see the troops come home "as soon as possible."


One candidate criticized the President's leadership on Libya--then praised its outcome--and then complained it took too long.


We are here to put their rhetoric in context, to remind you of the shifts in their rhetoric over years, weeks, and hours, and to challenge the candidates to measure up to the significant accomplishments and strong record of President Obama and his team over the past three years.

In some of the most momentous decisions in our nation's history, American Commanders-in-Chief have had one chance to get it right. There are seldom do-overs when our nation's security is at stake.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 21, 2011 12:38 PM.

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