"Seven countries in five years"
Wesley Clark's new memoir casts more light on the Bush administration's secret strategies for regime change in
By Joe Conason
10/12/07 "Salon" -- - While the Bush White House promotes the possibility of armed conflict with Iran, a tantalizing passage in Wesley Clark's new memoir suggests that another war is part of a long-planned Department of Defense strategy that anticipated "regime change" by force in no fewer than seven Mideast states. Critics of the war have often voiced suspicions of such imperial schemes, but this is the first time that a high-ranking former military officer has claimed to know that such plans existed.
The existence of that classified memo would certainly cast more dubious light not only on the original decision to invade Iraq because of Saddam Hussein's weapons and ambitions but on the current efforts to justify and even instigate military action against Iran.
In "A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country," published by Palgrave Macmillan last month, the former four-star general recalls two visits to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. On the first visit, less than two weeks after Sept. 11, he writes, a "senior general" told him, "We're going to attack
Six weeks later, Clark returned to
"'Oh, it's worse than that,' he said, holding up a memo on his desk. 'Here's the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We're going to take out seven countries in five years.' And he named them, starting with
While Clark doesn't name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included
During the Blitzer interview,
Clark's book also describes a telling encounter nearly a decade earlier with neoconservative eminence Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense under Rumsfeld who resigned under a cloud of scandal from the World Bank last spring. In May 1991, according to
"We screwed up and left Saddam Hussein in power. The president [then George H.W. Bush] believes he'll be overthrown by his own people, but I rather doubt it," he quotes Wolfowitz lamenting. "But we did learn one thing that's very important. With the end of the Cold War, we can now use our military with impunity. The Soviets won't come in to block us. And we've got five, maybe 10, years to clean up these old Soviet surrogate regimes like Iraq and Syria before the next superpower emerges to challenge us ... We could have a little more time, but no one really knows."
More than a decade and a half later, the neoconservative obsession with regime change persists and flourishes in the upper reaches of the Bush administration, where Vice President Dick Cheney is reportedly pressing for action against
Perhaps it is time for the appropriate Senate and House committees to start asking harder questions about this administration's secret strategies for the
Joe Conason writes a weekly column for Salon and the
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