This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, let's bring another general, Wesley Clark from Little Rock, Arkansas. Are you going with McChrystal or are you going with Obama?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Bill, I'll tell you, when the commander on the ground says he needs more troops, you better listen.
O'REILLY: OK, all right. So you and I are on the same page on that.
CLARK: But, but.
O'REILLY: Go, go.
CLARK: I think the real issue is what's the mission and then what's the right strategy? And I don't think it's wrong for the administration to really do a gut check and make sure that we've got the right mission and the right strategy. If it were up to me, I'd be thinking real hard about Usama bin Laden because that's why we went there in the first place. We didn't get him the first time. He's not in Afghanistan. He's in Pakistan. So my thesis would be you've got to look at this as AfPak, not separately Afghanistan. You can lose it in Afghanistan if you're driven off the battlefield. You can't win it in Afghanistan. You've got to get Usama bin Laden…
O'REILLY: Well, I agree and…
CLARK: ...and al-Zawahiri out of Pakistan.
O'REILLY: And the Pakistani army has been doing some separation operations where they should finally. But the more important thing, I think, General, isn't strategy in Afghanistan. We'll leave that to General McChrystal, President Obama's handpicked guy. Let him run the war. Give him chance. But the commander and chief now is looking like he's unsure. This is Barack Obama, I'm talking about. He's looking to the world like he doesn't really know what to do. Now, that may not be fair, but it's the perception, is it not?
CLARK: Well, I don't know if it's the perception or not because if you think about this, to do a strategic review and that after all the administration has to look at this is an integrated thing. It's not just about the troops on the ground. It's about diplomacy with Pakistan. It's about what India's doing in the area.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but shouldn't they have been doing that all along?
CLARK: It's a whole lot of other things.
O'REILLY: Shouldn't they have been doing that all along?
CLARK: They have.
O'REILLY: I mean, what are those guys in the Pentagon doing?
CLARK: Well, the Pentagon's not doing…
O'REILLY: They're supposed to be fighting a war.
CLARK: …the diplomacy. You've got to pull it all together. And to do it, the — you got to get the top people involved, the ones that make the political judgment.
O'REILLY: General, are you telling me…
CLARK: And they got to think about.
O'REILLY: Are you telling me that our enemies in the world feel that Barack Obama's hesitation going on three weeks now, to send more troops to the theater is a strength play? Do you think Iran sees Obama as a strong guy? I don't.
CLARK: Well, you know, I don't know what the leaguers privately say about him. But I would say this that if Barack Obama were to make the decision today to send those 40,000 troops, they wouldn't be there tomorrow. In fact…
O'REILLY: That's right.
CLARK: ...the last couple of brigades from the January reinforcement decision aren't there yet.
O'REILLY: Aren't there yet. But it's the perception of commitment…
CLARK: So — that's right.
O'REILLY: And you know, you're asking other NATO countries to step up.
CLARK: There's (INAUDIBLE) commitment.
O'REILLY: You're asking, you know, look, Rangers lead the way, right? Army Rangers lead the way, OK.
CLARK: Rangers lead the way?
O'REILLY: Who's leading the way in Afghanistan? We have to…
CLARK: The president's leading the way.
O'REILLY: He's not right now.
CLARK: And the president is. And the president has every right and obligation to get the strategy right.
O'REILLY: Here's what I would do.
CLARK: You're not going to get this — well, Bill.
O'REILLY: Hey, wait, wait. Here's what I would do and you tell me why I'm crazy, because you're the military guy and I have no military strategy.
CLARK: I'm trying to tell you what I would do.
O'REILLY: OK. No, but I — here, I'll tell you what I would do.
O'REILLY: Then you tell me what I you would do, OK. I would say we're going to give General McChrystal more troops. I wouldn't put a number on it. Because you now, you're right. You got to evaluate what's going on, where they're going to be. I understand that McChrystal wants them for security in the big cities, which absolutely you have to have. But I would say to the world we have a commitment. And the White House did come out to say today that they're not withdrawing from Afghanistan. The White House said that today very late this afternoon. But I would say we're going to send General McChrystal some troops. He wants more. He's going to get more. I wouldn't put a number on it quite yet. That at least would clear it up, you know, and not leave it hanging and dangling. All right, what would you do?
CLARK: Well, I would say the same thing that Jim Jones said. This is not about troops. It's about strategy. You got to get the strategy right. Then you got to get the American people behind it. But before you can go out and get the American people behind it, you have to have reviewed it. When he first put those troop reinforcements in, he made the announcement, you know, three days after he took office. And he didn't have his national security team on. So I think we should be comforted by the fact that he's going to take a week of tentative deliberations…
O'REILLY: Yeah, I'm not comforted.
CLARK: …to work this. Well, you should be because this is how he becomes accountable.
O'REILLY: I'm not comforted at all.
CLARK: Go back to look at the record.
O'REILLY: I don't think McChrystal's comforted either. I don't think any of the generals over there are comforted, General, ut-uh.
CLARK: I think McChrystal understands what's going on.
O'REILLY: All right.
CLARK: Remember, McChrystal's a NATO commander.
O'REILLY: Look, Obama and McChrystal are not best pals right now. You know that. And Obama's mad at him. You know that.
CLARK: I don't think that he's mad at him.
O'REILLY: Oh, he's mad at him. You know that.
CLARK: Come on, McChrystal's a NATO commander. That speech he gave in London helps the president build support overseas.
O'REILLY: All right, now here's the poll. Send more troops to Afghanistan, 43 percent say yes. Bring troops home, 43 percent of Americans say yes. Tie.
O'REILLY: Support U.S. military action in Afghanistan, 64 percent say support it; opposed 27 percent. Is President Obama doing what it takes to win in Afghanistan? 37 percent say yes. No, 50 percent. So, if Obama doesn't hustle it, he's going to lose in the public opinion polls even more than he has, I think.
CLARK: Well, you know, there's a lot of similarities to Vietnam here. And what you find in Vietnam is that if you go back and read the record, President Johnson, he got pushed into sending those troops in before he did a proper strategic assessment. And he had public support for a while, but when the military kept asking for more and more troops and then we had the Tet offensive that made it look like we hadn't done the same job that we said we'd done, we really lost public support. So, I think it's not too late to get the public fully behind the policy. Got to make sure you got the right policy. And then you got to put the pedal to the metal and go after it. But you cannot succeed in Afghanistan alone. You must succeed in Pakistan.
O'REILLY: No, I agree with that. I mean, you can't give these people sanctuaries to just keep doing destruction. General.
CLARK: Well, that was the mistake in Vietnam, and we can't make it again.
O'REILLY: Yeah. It was a mistake to give them Cambodia and Laos. Thanks, general. We appreciate it. Great debate.
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