A Supreme Message

A Supreme Message

Maggie Fried

On Tuesday night, General Wesley K. Clark presented this question to the students, faculty and community members that filled Memorial Chapel: “What happened to America?” During the following hour, General Clark presented his answer to this question in his lecture entitled, “National Security and the Political Process in Post-September 11th America.”

General Clark is a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, author and TV and radio commentator, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Silver Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Award. Many people, however, know him as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2004 elections.

“I went because I recognized his name as a presidential candidate and in high school I liked him better than Kerry, so I was interested to hear him speak,” first-year Morgan Nevins said. “He is also the most well known speaker we’ve had [this year].”

Co-Presidents of College Democrats Allie Weinreb and Heidi Johnson along with Vice President Marty Shapiro opened the lecture. Following their introduction, Vice President and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson took the stage to introduce General Clark.

General Clark began by saying that he “was trying not to give a partisan speech” and then moved on to answer the question that he said he is commonly asked, “What’s happened in this country?” In his explanation of what has happened to America, specifically with regard to Iraq, Clark stated that we “don’t have an effective strategy yet.” He proceeded by explaining how our military strategy has changed since the Cold War.

Clark also described the situation in Iraq, saying “it was a grand strategic blunder” and that we invaded even though “there was no imminent threat from Iraq” and that “the real reason for being there was to clean up the Middle East.” Following his critique of the current situation in Iraq, Clark presented his strategy for succeeding in Iraq and bringing peace to the Middle East.

“His own personal feelings seemed to convey that a Judeo-Christian attack on Iraq could never work and that the way to positively affect the Middle East is through diplomacy, leadership and the use of our economic power,” junior Matt Guber said.

In addition to a strategy for Iraq, General Clark also explained how he believes America should deal with terrorism. Finally, Clark spoke on the importance of keeping up in the global marketplace and warned that our ability to remain a superpower rests on our economic capabilities.

“It was surprising to hear from this general that it is not our military that will ensure our future as a leader in the world, but our ability to prosper in this new global market,” Guber said.

The speech received a standing ovation by the audience who, following the talk, had the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session. At the end of the session, there was a reception at the Ho Lecture Room where Clark spoke with students.

“It was a thrilling experience to see Wesley Clark. Seeing how General Clark is not [currently] a Presidential candidate for the next election, it was good to hear his point of view without the slant towards getting elected,” Guber said. “He came off as more genuine than the slick talking politician that knows how to woo the crowd without actually making any points.General Clark had an interesting take on the United States and the role it has taken, and should take, in the world in the future.”

The event was presented by the College Democrats and co-sponsored by the Dean of the College, Sophomore Year Experience, Democracy Matters, Political Science Department, Peace and Conflict Studies, Student Lecture Forum and the Colgate International Community. This afternoon, the Student Lecture Forum and the College Democrats will hold a brown bag discussion in the Women’s Center about Clark’s speech.