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2004-01-29

A Profile of Wesley Clark: From Little Rock To Four-Star General To Presidential Candidate

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We examine the life of Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and the man who led the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the first four-star general in history to run for President as a Democrat.

Reporter Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe wrote a two-part series profiling Wesley Clark. This is an excerpt:

’During more than three decades in the Army, Clark rose to the rank of four-star general and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He was mostly in a classroom, or a war room, or serving as a commander at posts ranging from Colorado to Texas to Germany. He was not on the battlefield during the first Gulf War, although he trained troops for that conflict.

’Clark draws passion from both supporters and detractors in the military. He is either the most brilliant man they have ever known, or the most arrogant, or both.

He is "the greatest thing since sex, or you detest him," in the colorful observance of Rick Brown, an admirer and superior officer in Vietnam.

'“Generically, the Army has a large number of people who don't like smart folks, or [people] perceived to be smarter than they," said Lionel Ingram, a West Point friend who was also among the brightest in his class. "They don’t like people who are successful. The Army does have to some degree, among some people, an anti-intellectual bias."

'As Clark pursues the presidency of the United States–the first elective office he has sought–he is without a voting record, and his political leanings have ranged from being a Nixon-supporting hawk to a Clinton-like internationalist and opponent of the Iraq war who earlier said he "probably" would have voted to give President Bush the authority to go to war. From the age of 14, Clark's ambition was to be a US general; his four stars attest to his success, just as his sudden retirement in 2000 reveals the way fellow officers maneuvered–some say conspired–to oust him.’

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