Gen­eral Clark: ‘North Korea is the cri­sis’

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Senior Satellite - By CHRIS POLK cpolk@star­dem.com

QUEEN­STOWN — The best de­fense is a strong econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to re­tired U.S. Army Gen­eral Wes­ley Clark, who was charged with talk­ing about the United States’ mil­i­tary pre­pared­ness to a gath­er­ing of Wye Fel­lows Thurs­day evening, Sept. 7, at the Aspen In­sti­tute’s Queen­stown cam­pus.

A for­mer can­di­date for pres­i­dent of the United States, Clark served 38 years and re­tired as a four-star gen­eral in May 2000.

A chance to meet and hear the gen­eral speak meant a sold-out au­di­ence at the In­sti­tute, with mostly mem­bers in at­ten­dance.

The gen­eral cited sev­eral ma­jor chal­lenges that the United States faces in terms of se­cu­rity.

“We’ve got to deal with the ter­ror­ists,” he said. “Be­cause they are re­lent­less. And all they have to do is bring down an air­plane to shut down world com­merce. And they are still try­ing to do it.”

He also talked about the chal­lenge of cy­ber se­cu­rity.

“Now we don’t know all the di­men­sions of that chal­lenge,” he said. “This is a very rapidly evolv­ing area.”

“The Chi­nese are about to en­ter quan­tum com­put­ing,” he said. “And with quan­tum com­put­ing you can do so many com­pu­ta­tions that the ex­ist­ing cryp­to­graphic pro­tec­tions we are us­ing will not suc­ceed in pro­tect­ing us if there are se­crets they re­ally want to get af­ter.”

Clark talked about re­cent col­li­sions of Navy ships in the Pa­cific. He said that he un­der­stood that the com­mand­ing of­fi­cers had been re­lieved of their du­ties, but he found it very sur­pris­ing if they were at fault.

“You don’t come up through the ranks of the armed forces and not know your stuff,” he said. “Es­pe­cially in the United States Navy be­cause it is the most tech­ni­cally de­mand­ing and dif­fi­cult of all of the ser­vices.”

Clark said he had heard be­hind the scenes that the look­outs on those ships had been on duty and alert.

“There’s some­thing very strange go­ing on with GPS sys­tems or in­ter­nal con­trols of these ships,” he said.

He also noted that, in the last 2 or 3 years, ev­ery ma­jor air­line has had reser­va­tion or tick­et­ing prob­lems that caused shut­downs.

He said he talked to Delta Air­lines about it, and sug­gested that the prob­lem could be cy­ber-re­lated. Clark said they told him that a power con­verter had failed prior to the prob­lems. He said United Air­lines and other ma­jor air­lines had re­ported the same thing.

An­other chal­lenge to se­cu­rity, he said, is that the United States has a fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity prob­lem, be­gin­ning with the re­ces­sion of 2008.

“Right now we are roar­ing ahead with naked de­riv­a­tives and shorts and there’s still no reg­u­la­tion in the world-wide cur­rency trade,” he said.

“When you have $650 tril­lion or more in play at any given time and if any­thing ever hap­pened to that, there’s no telling ...” he said.

“Yes, we put a lit­tle more money in the banks but is it re­ally se­cure enough?” Clark said. “I don’t know. It’s a risk.”

He said an­other ma­jor risk for the United States is China and what China wants to do in the “world en­vi­rons.”

“The south China sea’s not go­ing away,” he said. He said there was one area where the Chi­nese are build­ing atolls.

“They’ve got the dredg­ing ship right out there just pil­ing it on so they can put in the air­field, the anti-air­craft mis­siles and the Chi­nese fighters on the atoll,” he said.

He said he had been in China last Oc­to­ber on busi­ness and had sug­gested to lead­ers that they could put the atolls un­der the United Na­tions, but the Chi­nese did not seem to like that idea.

“They want to pur­sue their atoll build­ing pro­gram in an ag­gres­sive and of­fen­sive fash­ion in the south China sea,” he said.

“And so we have ac­cepted it as a fait ac­com­pli,” he said. “We have re­signed the law of the sea treaty and we are go­ing to lose the south China sea, and with it our abil­ity to in­flu­ence the Philip­pines, Malaysia, Pa­pua New Guinea, and all of them down there.”

He said that Aus­tralia was at risk from the ex­pan­sion, as well as the United States’ re­la­tion­ship with Viet­nam.

Clark said that China wanted to dis­place the U. S., but that’s not the cri­sis.

“North Korea is the cri­sis,” he said. Clark said he had been part of ne­go­ti­a­tions, along with Bob Gal­lucci, back in 1994 when the U.S. al­most went to war the first time over the nu­clear is­sue in North Korea. He said a peace agree­ment had never been signed.

“And noth­ing’s re­ally changed,” Clark said. He said North Korea has three un­chang­ing ob­jec­tives.

“They want to sur­vive,” he said. “They want to be free of Amer­i­can in­flu­ence and power on the Korean penin­sula. And they want to unify Korea un­der the con­trol of the Kim fam­ily.”

He said that North Korean ag­gres­sion is part of the “long-term Chi­nese game.”

“The Chi­nese game is to push the United States out of the Western Pa­cific,” Clark said. “They may con­sider let­ting us keep Hawaii al­though one of their maps shows that Hawaii also be­longs to China.”

But for now, he said, the U.S. can have Hawaii.

“But cer­tainly not Ok­i­nawa, cer­tainly not Korea,” he said. “And not Guam.”

“And the way they get us out is, North Korea is the bark­ing dog,” Clark said. “And the cen­ter of grav­ity is the pop­u­la­tion of South Korea.”

He said that North Korea ratch­ets up ten­sion in the South Korean pop­u­la­tion by point­ing out train­ing ex­er­cises held by Amer­i­can B-1 bombers and how threat­ened it makes them feel.

“As long as South Kore­ans are on our side and say, these guys in the North are nuts, ev­ery­thing’s fine,” Clark said.

He said that South Korea is twice as large as North Korea and has ten times the eco­nomic power.

But, he said, if Amer­ica’s pop­u­lar­ity be­gins to wane with South Kore­ans by a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age, it could be­gin a “slide” into that long-term Chi­nese game.

“So we have to know the long term,” he said of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “What is this re­ally about? Yes, he has nu­clear weapons. He has long range mis­siles.”

“You know if he ever at­tacked us?” Clark said. “He would be oblit­er­ated. The point is, there is no good mil­i­tary op­tion for get­ting rid of the nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams of North Korea, short of gen­eral war­fare.”

He said the United States could strengthen de­ter­rence by plac­ing de­fen­sive mis­siles to shoot down those of North Korea. The U.S. could also help South Korea to build bet­ter de­fenses.

Clark said that as an Amer­i­can “just kind of hold your nose” when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes threat­en­ing state­ments about at­tack­ing the United States.

“And you don’t want to play that game back. that’s his game,” Clark said. “Stay away from that game. If he wants to sur­vive, he’s not go­ing to at­tack be­cause he will be de­stroyed. Be strong.”

He said the United States could try ne­go­ti­at­ing with Kim Jong Un di­rectly, but it is clear the ne­go­ti­a­tions would in­clude the U.S. leav­ing the Korean penin­sula.

“In other words, open the door to let him take over South Korea,” Clark said. “That’s the Chi­nese plan and that’s the exit strat­egy.”

Clark said it re­minded him of the sit­u­a­tion that hap­pened in 1939 when the United States looked at Ja­panese ag­gres­sion in the Pa­cific and did not go to war, but de­cided to stop sell­ing Ja­pan oil and scrap steel.

“In Ja­pan, this was seen as a trig­ger for war,” he said. “So the fact is, we didn’t choose war but we did take ac­tions that en­cour­aged them to choose war.”

He said North Korea is not go­ing to give up its nu­clear weapons.

“He will starve 50 per­cent of his coun­try be­fore get­ting rid of nu­clear weapons,” Clark said of Kim Jong Un.

“War on the penin­sula could be­gin by ac­ci­dent or mis­cal­cu­la­tion,” Clark said.

“How are we do­ing for mil­i­tary pre­pared­ness?” the gen­eral asked. “Not ver y well.”

He said the 2013 se­ques­tra­tion took $600 bil­lion out of the five-year de­fense pro­gram.

“We are be­hind in op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance money,” he said. “In all four ser­vices — the Air Force, the Marines, the Navy and the Army.”

“We’ve got equip­ment that can­not be re­paired, we’ve got ships that need ser­vic­ing, that is des­per­ately needed. We’ve got tanks that need to be up­graded, etc.”

He said the United States has cut man­power, so all the ser­vices are short.

“Num­bers of ships, num­bers of fighter squadrons, di­vi­sions, man­ning in­side the di­vi­sions, etc.,” he said.

“We’re short, most im­por­tantly, in mod­ern­iza­tion,” Clark said.

He said the United States saw in the Ukraine in 2014 what only five years of mod­ern­iza­tion had done for Rus­sia.

“They used drones com­bined with rocket-fir­ing ar­tillery and they could put fire on tar­get in less than three min­utes,” he said. “They had broad­spec­trum jam­ming that to­tally shut down Ukrainian com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

“They had air de­fense sys­tems that to­tally shut down the abil­ity of the Ukraini­ans to fly,” he said.

“So those three things alone are so pow­er­ful that they change war­fare,” he said.

“We’ve been fight­ing against tech­no­log­i­cal dum­mies for 17, 16 years in the Mid­dle East,” Clark said. “They didn’t have drones. They didn’t have good elec­tronic war­fare. They couldn’t re­ally build in­tel­li­gence sys­tems. And they couldn’t han­dle our air­craft.”

“Well, all of that’s go­ing away,” Clark said. “To­day we are on the verge of us­ing di­rected en­ergy weapons. That’s bil­lions of dol­lars.”

“We’re talk­ing about us­ing hy­per­sonic mis­siles. That’s mil­lions of dol­lars,” he said. “Our tanks in the United States Army have no ac­tive pro­tec­tion sys­tem.”

He said “the Sovi­ets” have had for 20 years a re­ac­tive ar­mor that de­flects shaped charges in their tanks. “We don’t have what the Is­raelis and mod­ern Rus­sian sys­tems have, which is ac­tive pro­tec­tion. They have new-wave radar that de­tects in­com­ing pro­jec­tiles in a tank, and fires pro­jec­tiles out to de­flect the in­com­ing round or mis­sile be­fore it can hit the tank,” he said.

“And we are not ex­pected to have it for an­other eight years in the United States Army,” he said. “We are way be­hind in mod­ern­iza­tion.”

He praised the abil­ity of the United States’ F-35 and F-22 air­craft.

“As long as we fly against Syr­ian air­craft and Syr­ian air space, ob­so­lete radar, we are fine,” he said. “But China and Rus­sia are not stand­ing still. That $600 bil­lion that we lost — we need it back. In spades.”

The gen­eral touched on sev­eral other top­ics in his speech and com­ments af­ter, but even af­ter giv­ing an over­view of var­i­ous weak­nesses, he em­pha­sized the most im­por­tant strength for any coun­try is eco­nomic.

“You can’t be a strong coun­try on the ba­sis of your mil­i­tary,” Clark said. “That’s not what it’s about for Amer­ica. It’s re­ally about our econ­omy.”

In his last as­sign­ment as Supreme Al­lied Com­man­der in Europe, Clark led NATO forces to vic­tory in Op­er­a­tion Al­lied Force dur­ing the war in Kosovo, a 78-day air cam­paign, backed by ground in­va­sion plan­ning and diplo­matic process, sav­ing 1.5 mil­lion Al­ba­ni­ans from eth­nic cleans­ing.

He grad­u­ated first in his class at West Point, and com­pleted de­grees in phi­los­o­phy, pol­i­tics and economics at Ox­ford Univer­sity as a Rhodes Scholar.

He was se­verely wounded in com­bat in Viet­nam as an in­fantry com­pany com­man­der, and later com­manded at the bat­tal­ion, brigade and di­vi­sion level.

Gen­eral Clark was the prin­ci­pal au­thor of both the U.S. Na­tional Mil­i­tary Strat­egy and Joint Vi­sion 2010, pre­scrib­ing U.S. war-fight­ing for full­spec­trum dom­i­nance.

His awards in­clude the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, De­fense Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal, Sil­ver Star, Bronze Star, Pur­ple Heart, and hon­orary knight­hoods from the Bri­tish and Dutch gov­ern­ments.

Clark ran for pres­i­dent of the United States in 2003, but with­drew from the pri­mary in 2004.

He is now an of­fi­cer or di­rec­tor of many cor­po­rate and non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, es­pe­cially in the en­ergy, fi­nance and se­cu­rity in­dus­tries, and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

He serves as co-chair­man of Growth En­ergy, an ethanol lob­by­ing group and is on the board of di­rec­tors of BNK Petroleum.

Gen­eral Wes­ley Clark, right, takes ques­tions af­ter his talk at the Aspen In­sti­tute. From left: Carl Doll, Richard Groves, Henry Parkhurst and Gen­eral Clark.

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