Wesley Clark, a retired four-star Army general and contender for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, will come to Dodd Hall today to discuss and sign his newly released book “A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor, and Country”.
Clark plans to discuss his experiences in Vietnam, the Kosovo War and his tenure both with the Department of Defense and NATO, said Elizabeth Kivowitz, a university spokeswoman.
Last year, Clark became a senior fellow at UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations, which is organizing the event. Since then, he has spoken several times on campus and helped put together a conference on nuclear weapons.
Kivowitz also said Clark may discuss the current situation in Iraq, including the debate on the role of private security companies and contractors in the war.
“He has a lot to say about Iraq … He can talk about Blackwater, Congressional legislation and what the next best steps in Iraq are,” Kivowitz said. “He’s very open to speaking about all that. He wants to engage students.”
Blackwater, a private security company contracted to protect the American Embassy in Iraq, has recently been accused of excessive violence against Iraqi civilians and armed forces.
Clark has said in the past that the private company’s reported behavior is a cause of concern.
Clark spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense and three years as NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, where he commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War, striving to end the civil war in the region.
He served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, and was wounded in battle, sustaining four shots. In 2000, Clark was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award for distinguished Americans, by President Bill Clinton.
Kyle Kleckner, president of Bruin Democrats, said he believes Clark is a good example of a “very good patriot and a great Democrat”.
“He shows Americans and UCLA students that Democrats are strong and smart on defense and foreign policy,” Kleckner said.
Clark has publicly spoken against current Iraq War policies, including several opinion pieces in the Washington Post where he called the war a mistake, while still opposing an abrupt troop pull-out.
Clark has called for a three-pronged approach to the war with renewed efforts in the military, political and diplomatic fields, calling the current administration’s diplomatic efforts “ill-advised and counterproductive”.
But David Lazar, chairman of Bruin Republicans and former Daily Bruin columnist, said he does not believe Clark’s views reflect those of all members of the armed forces.
“I come in contact with a lot of people who are currently in the military … who would take issue with a lot of the things he says, (such as) his views on Iraq, that we’re being a bully on the world stage,” Lazar said.