September 17, 2003


Clark and Vietnam II (Col. David H. Hackworth, APRIL 23, 1999,

NATO's Wesley Clark is not the Iron Duke, nor is he Stormin' Norman. Unlike Wellington and Schwarzkopf, Clark's not a muddy boots soldier. He's a military politician, without the right stuff to produce victory over Serbia.

Known by those who've served with him as the "Ultimate Perfumed Prince," he's far more comfortable in a drawing room discussing political theories than hunkering down in the trenches where bullets fly and soldiers die. An intellectual in warrior's gear.

A saying attributed to General George Patton was that it took 10 years with troops alone before an officer knew how to empty a bucket of spit. As a serving soldier with 33 years of active duty under his pistol belt, Clark's commanded combat units -- rifle platoon to tank division -- for only seven years. The rest of his career's been spent as an aide, an executive, a student and teacher and a staff weenie.

Very much like generals Maxwell Taylor and William Westmoreland, the architect and carpenter of the Vietnam disaster, Clark was earmarked and then groomed early in his career for big things. At West Point he graduated No. 1 in his class, and even though the Vietnam War was raging and chewing up lieutenants faster than a machine gun can spit death, he was seconded to Oxford for two years of contemplating instead of to the trenches to lead a platoon.

A year after graduating Oxford, he was sent to Vietnam, where, as a combat leader for several months, he was bloodied and muddied. Unlike most of his classmates, who did multiple combat tours in the killing fields of Southeast Asia, he spent the rest of the war sheltered in the ivy towers of West Point or learning power games first hand as a White House fellow.

Tell us what you really think, Colonel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 17, 2003 7:01 PM

I find the good Colonel, Hackworth, to be one of the most loathesome of the retired military pontificators currently in residence on Cable News networks.
He does, however, excel in self-promotion.
He castigates Clark for the opinion those who served with him seem to hold. Yet, early in the good colonels forced retirement, many of those who served under him had the goods on how he sacrificed those he "led" for personal triumph and gain.
I truly loathe Hackworth, and his damning of Clark almost makes this life long Republican want to vote for him just to give the David the "finger"

Posted by: Mike Daley at September 18, 2003 12:44 AM

I'm puzzled by Col. Hackworth. It seems he has a lot of contacts within the current US military. Those contacts tell him the good and the bad about personnel, military situations, etc.

He does appear "over the top" in TV appearances. But, there have been too many instances where what he has said turned out to be true.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at September 18, 2003 5:18 AM

I had some conversations with Hack several years ago. None lately.

At that time, he was really hopeful that the Army was going to turn around. This was when Zini had just been appointed COS.

Having met Zini, I was skeptical. "No, Harry,"
said Hack. "He's going to be good."

But he wasn't, and either with Zini or some later Perfumed Prince, Hackworth seems to have become not merely embittered, which he was when he left the Army, but despairing.

I don't know anything about Clark, but the general proposition that you have to be a muddy boots soldier to be a good commander is wrong.

The greatest battle commander we ever had, Spruance, was an intellectual. And, like all admirals of his day, he had to step into combat at the highest levels without any practicing in little engagements.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 18, 2003 6:16 PM