Update: Added video:
Transcript of Stewart Varney interview General Wesley Clark on Your World this afternoon.
Stewart Varney: They’re lining up in Iraq to be Saddam’s hangman. Hundreds of Iraqis applying for that job. It could happen any time within the next 28 days, in fact, it could be happening at this very moment. Saddam will reportedly be led to the gallows in an orange prison uniform, his head covered in a cone shaped black hood. But General Wesley Clark says when it does happen, get ready for more violence and he’s the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and he testified at the mass murder trial of another dictator, Slobodan Milosevic.
General, it’s not our call whether or not we hang this man, execute him or not, but if it was, if it was your call, strategically, would you execute him or put him in prison for life?
Wesley Clark: Well I think the decision’s been made on that. I think it’s too late to go back and review that kind of decision. He’s been brought to trial, the constitution calls for the death penalty, he’s going to be executed and there’s nothing at this point that can be done or should be done.
Varney: Would you do it real soon? Do it real soon?
Clark: Well, I always like to see the full outcome of justice. There were a lot of other people who were injured by Milosevic [ed note: he said Milosevic here – he’s getting his genocidal dictators mixed up.] and there’s another trial underway. But apparently the customary procedure in Iraq is this trial, this sentence, carry it out, and I guess it’s going to get carried out. And I think you know it’s important for us not [ed note: emphasis Clark’s] to be seen as the people behind this. This is the Iraqi people themselves, this is their sense of justice.
Varney: If the execution, presumably perhaps would increase the power and influence of the Shia and that could therefore be perhaps a counter action by the Sunnis. Saddam is a Sunni, he led essentially a Sunni government. The Sunnis are now seeing their guy executed, will they try for some kind of comeback? Will the violence increase because of this?
Clark: I think you’re certainly raising some important risks because I think when you see something like this happen it does confirm the power of the Shia. This is the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence. This shows Shia dominance of the Government and that can’t help but excite concern and fear, animosity, and a desire to compensate among that part of the Iraqi populace which fears Shia domination.
Varney: Does it divide yet further Iraqi society?
Clark: I think it may, at least for a while intensify the feelings. On the other hand, I think that given everything that’s transpired, it also clears off the chess board so to speak and lets the Sunnis face the future with it in a different way. So I think that somehow our diplomats on the ground, our people who are working these policy issues, have got to take advantage of the moment and try forge a new political – set of new political understandings in Baghdad to move this forward.
Varney: Is it possible that America’s interests have, in fact, been well served by the war in Iraq? Let me explain that. We have taken the fight to the enemy. The enemy is divided completely. And the enemy is now killing itself, fighting each other. Is that not long term, in a way, in America’s strategic interests?
Clark: Well, actually, I don’t think so. The ‘enemy’ so to speak, were the people that attacked us on 9/11. Saddam had really nothing to do directly with those people. He didn’t encourage the attack, he didn’t aid it. He wasn’t part of it, in fact they viewed Saddam as part of the enemy camp. So we attacked Afghanistan, we took out the government that supported the people that attacked us and then, in my view, in a strategic blunder, moved against Saddam Hussein. He was contained. Yes he was an unpleasant person. Yes he was a potential danger like every tyrant I guess is. But he couldn’t directly strike the United States and he was performing the function of a ‘cork in the bottle’ in the Persian Gulf containing the power of Iran. We removed him.
Varney: General, I’m sorry to interrupt. In the interest of time I do want to just switch gears completely for just one second. John Edwards announced his candidacy for the presidency in ’08 as of today. He made the announcement in New Orleans. Any comment from you as a former Democrat presidential candidate?
Clark: Well I like John Edwards, I think he has to be taken as a very serious contender for the presidency in 2008. He’s a man who has clearly shown his motivation and determination and one of the things that I think all American’s want and I think people all over the world want is they want the American president to be fully committed. His whole life being in essence to the job and the public responsibilities that come with the office of the presidency.
Varney: Are you going to run again?
Clark: Well I haven’t said I won’t.
Varney: Would you ever consider a Vice Presidential spot?
Clark: Well I’m not going to speculate on that. Right now I’m in the business community and I’m really working the strategic issues and I think that’s just way too much to talk about.
Varney: What would get you in?
Clark: Well there are a lot of different personal factors that have to be weighed on this as well as the issues of where the country is and what the country needs.
Varney: Could you get the money?
Clark: I, you know, those are issues that I’ve had some discussions about. Maybe there’ll be some more discussions. I haven’t got a time line. I haven’t made a decision and I think, in the interest of good decision making, and protecting people’s privacy, I just have to, just have to beg off.
Varney: Okay General. Got it. Thank you sir.
Clark: Thank you.