Gen. Wesley Clark's Plan for Iraq

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, everybody is worried about Iraq. Today on "Regis & Kelly," I was asked about it.


REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, ABC'S "REGIS & KELLY": In fact, let me ask you something. Iraq, what is the — how do we get out, when are we getting out? What's going to happen?

O'REILLY: I think, look, the country is best served by winning that war, and everybody should understand that. If we have to lose that war, this is going to lead to unintended consequences all across the world, everything bad for us. All right?

But there has to be a limit to our largesse and to our sacrifice. Because we have made a great sacrifice for that country. So I would say that you've got to give the Iraqis another year, year and a half to train their army and police to be able to defend themselves against these terrible awful terrorists who are trying to disrupt that country.


And joining us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, is FOX News military analyst General Wesley Clark, who has been thinking about Iraq policy.

OK, General, go. What would you do if you were in charge?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Bill, it's always taken a three-legged stool to succeed in Iraq. Leg one is the military, leg two is the politics inside Iraq and leg three is the diplomacy in the region and especially with Iraq's neighbors.

Now for the first year we were in Iraq we only had leg one, the military. Then we added the political. The political is bringing a constitution to be voted on that later this month that's going to really anger 20 percent of the population. And when it passes, which it probably will, we'll have deeper animosities inside Iraq.

So the mission is in trouble, right. You're right; it's a big mess.

The reason is the Bush administration has never really grasped the diplomatic problem in the region. If we want to fix Iraq, we've got to work the diplomacy of the region.

Now, how do we do it? We meet individually and we send emissaries in and we talk to Iraq's neighbors. Turkey, Jordan. No problem. Kuwait, no problem. Syria and Iran, that's really tough. This administration doesn't want to talk to either one of them directly. And yet, they're part of the problem in Iraq. When we invaded Iraq we let Syria and Iran know they were next.

We're putting the squeeze on Syria right now, and we'd like to run the administration — we'd like to run Bashar Assad out of town and get rid of this government in Syria. So he's got no incentive right now to try to help us work in Iraq.

And as far as Iran is concerned, we've got a looming nuclear crisis with Iran, and we're not talking to them.

So our military people, our mission in Iraq is held hostage by the neighbors. We're going to have to talk to the neighbors if we want to make this mission work.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, Syria, I think you can probably make a deal to spare Bashar's life if he cooperates with us. I agree with you.

CLARK: Well, not only that, but you can go in there and you can start working it. He's still a guy who wants to stay in power and he's got nine intelligence agencies competing against him and undercutting Israel.

O'REILLY: I agree with you there. I think it's workable in Syria. U.S. should send the ambassador back. I think it's workable.

I don't think it's workable in Iran. I think those people are so far beyond the pale at this point that no matter what you said to them, it's not going to make a difference.

CLARK: Bill, have you been over to Iran? Have you been over to Iran?

O'REILLY: I've been — not in the country, but I have been in the gulf.

CLARK: Have you talked to them? Have you talked to them? I've been in the gulf, too, and I've had several instances of people from Iran wanting to talk to me. There are people there are elements of that government that do want to talk. Now, can you do it so it doesn't look like weakness? That's what diplomats are supposed to be able to do.

O'REILLY: I'm not opposed to that. But I don't know how much stock you can put init.

CLARK: What you must do is you must find the common interest. There's nobody in that region that wants a huge war inside Iraq.

O'REILLY: See I disagree with that. I think Iran is thrilled that there's a huge war inside Iraq. Because...

CLARK: Iran can't win that war.

O'REILLY: Yes, they can. I'll tell you, if we cut and run — if we cut and run, as 25 percent of Americans want to do right now, Iran fills that vacuum. They team up with the Shia, they basically call the shots in southern Iraq. So I think Iran is thrilled.

CLARK: In southern Iraq they call the shots, but they don't call the shots in all of Iraq.

O'REILLY: No. But that's where the oil flow is.

CLARK: You've got Saudi Arabia. You've got Syria. You've got Jordan. You've got a lot of money that's going to flow in there. You know, the way it works over there is a lot of these countries are willing to use Al Qaeda when it suits their purpose.

O'REILLY: Absolutely. That's what Iran is doing.

CLARK: That's right. But this is not going to suit their purposes to let Iran have the whole country or even to carve off a part of it...

O'REILLY: All right. So let's sum up. So you want to — you want to...

CLARK: Take that interesting and build out of it a regional dialogue and let the United States then train the Iraqi forces, step back as the guarantor of regional security in the region, and then let each of these countries guarantee Iraq's border and let their...

O'REILLY: All right. It's an optimistic viewpoint that they would do that.

CLARK: It's a possible viewpoint, Bill.

O'REILLY: North Korea proves that, although we don't know if North Korea is going to do what they say they're going to do. So it's a dangerous world.

But look, I'm not opposed to having conversations with Syria and Iran to try to help us out over there, but I don't — Syria, I think you can do it because as you said, you know, it's Bashar's life. I mean, we could take his life and we should take his life if he doesn't help us out. Iran is a different nut.

CLARK: Iran is the most difficult country in the region.

O'REILLY: It is, absolutely.

CLARK: We've got to engage it. There's nothing wrong with talking to people before you have to use force.

O'REILLY: OK. Now let me ask you about this Hellerstein ruling last week that at the behest of the ACLU, Hellerstein says, yes, the government has to put out more Abu Ghraib (search) pictures.

Now, you heard Myers say nothing new. Just more of the same. We all know from the Newsweek debacle this is going to enflame. Because crimes of passion need a lighter. They need a flame. This would provide it. More Americans are going to die.

I have not heard anybody come out and condemn Hellerstein's ruling, any politician, anybody from the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, nobody. Just me. I'm outraged. What do you think?

CLARK: A lot of us don't know what's in those pictures and we don't know what to say.

O'REILLY: You don't believe Myers?

CLARK: Let me go back to the other side of it.

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

CLARK: Wait a minute, Bill. The other side of it is what is happening in Iraq? You know, it wasn't just Abu Ghraib. You've got a captain now in the 82nd Airborne who says that this kind of torture and beating up people and so forth was condoned by his unit; the chain of command is protecting it.

O'REILLY: Hey, general, you know what war is about?

CLARK: No, I don't know what it's about, Bill. Because the United States Army that I served in proudly for 34 years, we did not beat up and torture prisoners.

O'REILLY: General, with al respect, there were atrocities in Vietnam.

CLARK: Yes. And they were trials and they were punished.

O'REILLY: And World War II and World War I and the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.

CLARK: They were not by the chain of command.

O'REILLY: Yes, they were.

CLARK: No, they weren't. No they weren't.

O'REILLY: Lieutenant Callie and Medina in Vietnam?

CLARK: They were not condoned by the chain of command. Those guys were court martialed.

O'REILLY: With al due respect...

CLARK: ... all the way up the chain of command.

O'REILLY: General, you need to look at the Malmady (ph) massacre in World War II and the 82nd Airborne.

CLARK: You're looking at World War II. I'm looking at a volunteer army fighting a war against terror and if you're going to win, you've got to have a higher standard.

O'REILLY: You want those picture pictures out? You want these pictures?

CLARK: I want our Army to live up to American values.

O'REILLY: So everybody does. You want the pictures out?

CLARK: We don't torture people. So I think we need a complete investigation to see where this goes all the way up to the top level with the chain of command and up to the White House.

O'REILLY: Fine, no problem. Yes or no, general? Do you agree? Do you agree...

CLARK: I would like to see the pictures, Bill.

O'REILLY: You want to see the pictures.

CLARK: I want to see.

O'REILLY: Even if would put Americans in danger, you want to see them?

CLARK: I'll tell you what's put Americans in danger, is not having the Geneva Convention in force.

O'REILLY: All right. That's theory, General. We've got guys over there now. That's theory; we've got guys over there. Just rethink it. I disagree with you on that.

CLARK: No...

O'REILLY: I appreciate you coming on.

CLARK: Well, I want to hear you come back on my ground. I want to see what we can do to really clean this up. We can't win this war on terror by torturing people.

O'REILLY: I agree with that, but I don't want to put our guys in the field in any more danger.

CLARK: Hellerstein is wrong.

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