No fan of Trump, Gen. Clark defends harsh threat to Iran: I think admin understands risk of consequences

Screengrab CNN

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is no fan of President Donald Trump, but even the former NATO commander supported the commander in chief warning Iran about retaliating for the killing of one of its top military leaders, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Taking to Twitter, Trump said the U.S. has “targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago),” warning in all caps that these locations “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

“The USA wants no more threats!” the president insisted.

Appearing Saturday on CNN’s “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered,” Clark was asked about Trump’s message by the show’s namesake, S.E. Cupp, who breathlessly reported the “breaking news.”

“It’s probably a good statement by the president,” he said. “I think the administration understands that there’s a serious risk of consequences here. I think they understand it’s unlikely the Iranian regime will now come hat in hand to the negotiating table, ‘OK you killed our number two guy, let’s talk, we’re ready to surrender.’ They’re not going to do that.”

In a Washington Post editorial ran last year, Clark wrote that while Trump “struggles with his role’s rites and rituals, there are deeper issues with his command.”

“He’s trying to establish a warning, again, that they better not attack — it’s probably not going to work,” Clark added, saying that Iran may have to hit back for political reasons at home.

“The Iranians have to understand that they’re playing into the domestic politics of the United States that strengthens the president when they strike us,” he continued. “There would be a lot of criticism of him that’s partisan, but the fact is that Americans rally around the leadership when Americans are in danger. This could deter Iran. The odds are against it, but that’s a factor that has to be considered.”

In the face of all the fear-mongering by the anti-Trump media in response to taking out Soleimani, Cupp asked about this setting off a world war.

“So, I want to make sure that we’re not overreacting or under-reacting,” Cupp said. “People are talking about this setting off a World War III. How likely is that?”

“This act might take us — probably takes us to a new phase in our 40-year struggle with Iran,” Clark said, after expressing skepticism that it may lead to a wider conflict. “Because we have been disproportionate in our response and we’ve taken out somebody that they really value.”

The idea that the Iranian military is on par with the United States is laughable, but Clarke expanded on the ramifications of conflict between the two nations.

As for fear-mongering, the general did not rule out the possibility of nuclear conflict, though Iran is not believed to possess such weapons.

“Iran is a nation of more than 80 million people. It’s too big, too diverse, it’s too difficult geographically to ever think the United States will ever go in there and occupy that country,” he said. “We didn’t do very well against a smaller country like Iraq. So we’re not going to go in there. After you pound it and so forth, what are you left with? At best a failed state, at worst a state that maybe they do have nuclear weapons.”

“Maybe North Korea will give them nuclear weapons. Maybe Russia will come to their aid,” Clark said. “We don’t know how the geopolitics of this could spin out of control. It’s too early to say it’s a path to war, but it’s dangerous.”

And maybe such reckless speculation from a former military leader should be kept in check.

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Tom Tillison

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