Alex Massie

Why Wes Clark failed?

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Wes Clark is, once again, doing well at YearlyKos. One of the oddities of the 2004 election was the feebleness of Clark's campaign. True, he lacked political experience and that showed, but even so the lack of focus and the strategic failures of his campaign were palpable.

Then again, not everyone would have been surprised. I've been reading Alastair Campbell's diaries this week and came across this passage, dating from the Kosovo war:

Sunday April 18, 1999:

TB [Tony Blair] saw [Charles] Guthrie [Chief of the Defence Staff] and he basically levelled and said we were likely to have to put in ground troops... Guthrie called me later and...[his] assessment was that [Wesley] Clark was not a 'proper' general...I said I was reasonably impressed by him and Charles said yes, Tony said that, but a good general looks upwards and sideways, delegates and then protects the people he has delegated to from the politicians. Clark won't delegate so he risks being swamped by events. And he is not good at explaining strategy when there is one. Why those targets? What are we trying to achieve? You always need the answers to those questions.

I'll post some more tidbits from Campbell's diaries over the weekend.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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