Capitol View: Wesley Clark
From the victory studios in downtown little rock, this is capitol view with your host jesi turnure.
>> well, good sunday morning to you, and welcome to capitol view i'm jesi turnure.
We're coming to you from our brand new studio and we'll be proudly showing it off throughout this half hour and in the weeks to come.
We're loving it and we hope you enjoy it and love it as well.
Well, this morning we are just over a week removed from the violence in charlotesville, virginia.
We'll examine the longer lasting effects of the racially motivated unrest and president trump's repeated controversial statements throughout the week.
The fall from charlotesville has overshadowed a lot of domestic and international news in the last few days, including the posturing between the u.s. and north korea over the threat of nuclear war.
Joining us to discuss that and more is general wesley clark, former supreme allied commander of nato.
General clark, welcome to the show.we appreciate you having y.
>> thank you very much, jesi.
>> like i compensated or mentioned, we'll go in depth to north korea in a moment.
I wanted to ask you about charlottesville.
From a military strand pointed.
This week we saw the joint chiefs all denounce the white nationalism and racism and usually they don't get too involved in politics.
What did you think when you saw that?
Did you interpret it as rebuke, direct or indirect, to the commander-in-chief?
>> no, i didn't take it that way at all.
They're doing what they are supposed to do, which is their responsibility is the armedes ao serve there.
And they wanted to make it very, very clear that they don't tolerate racism and neonaziism and things like that in the american armed forces.
But we're not a political organization.
You support the commander-in-chief, regardless of his political party or whether you agree with his actions or not.
If you don't agree with them, i guess you have a chance to resign or get out or become a conscientious objector or something, but the point is it's not a political organization, but it is an organization that really values fair treatment of people.
I think it's the most meritocratic, fair, equal opportunity organization in the world.
>> and then as i mentioned, this rally, this really took a lot away from the national focus from north korea, so we'll get into that a little bit.
It's been reported that they have successfully miniaturized those nuclear weapons and they can reach the u.s. with them.
If diplomacy breaks down, it doesn't seem like there's that many option and his they don't seem to be good.
>> well, look, you have to be careful what the objective is.
You know, we've been trying to keep north korea from getting nuclear weapons since the 1960s when we did the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
We've never been realistic, jesi.
You have to be realistic about this.
The realistic view is that there is no military option held by the united states that can sort of magically get rid of their nuclear weapons.
It's not like you know where they all are, you can have a sort of anti-nuclear depth rate.
It comes down and they're all gone.>> that would be great.
>> but there isn't any such thing.
And instead, what they have done over decades is prepare this incredible network of caves with artillery and rockets that can reach seoul, and they've always had chemical weapons and biological weapons, anthrax, maybe even smallpox.
So it's a guarantee from their point of view that this we were to do something militarily and get leak a strike with special forces to try to get 70 or eighty% of their weapons, that we might know where they are.
We probably wouldn't get them all, but they will guarantee us that that would start a war, it would cause hundreds of thousands of casualties among the south korean population.
That's why we say there's no really good military option and that's been the case for a long time.
So we have to think, what's the objective?
The real objective is stability so that the south korean democracy can function and have economic growth, so we don't get in a war, so japan is not disrupted, because you're dealing with major economies there.
So yes, it's a bad thing that north korea has nuclear weapons, and we might be unable to talk them out of them, but the more you threaten, the more they want those weapons.
>> what about the threats from our president, though?
He's been saying, you know, that we're going to meet them with fire and fury tom cotton was on here last week and he said that's what they need to hear because north korea is a different country, which is what you kind of already touched on.
Is that kind of heated rhetoric coming from the u.s. a good thing?
>> well, i wouldn't think it's a good thing, and the reason is because in the long term, the u.s. interest is a stable strong south korea that is allied to the united states and it wants the us there to protect it.
But as president moon said last week, he doesn't want any military strikes by the united states without taking south koreans into consideration.
We have to get south koreans' permission before he does military strikes, because if we were to strike, we'd put hundreds ever thousands of south koreans at risk of death and we would destroy their economy when the north retaliated, and so you want to make sure the south koreans appreciate that the united states acts responsibly, that we are strong, resolute, but we're not hair trigger.
We're not cowboys.
They're not preemptive.
We're concerned about their security, and if you have too much heated rhetoric, you may think it works in the north, but actually, it turns against you in the south and the north uses it against you.
>> and i think all americans want to believe in what you said, that the u.s. is strong.
We are resilient.
>> we are.>> but then, you knowt trump's senior advisor, steve bannon, who exit based on friday, just days earlier he cold called a reporter and made some pretty crazy commence about the situation that raised some eyebrows, to say the least.
What he said was of the north korea nuclear threats, there's no military solution.
Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in seoul didn't die in 90 minutes from conventional weapons, i don't know what you're talking about.
There's no military solution here.
They've got us.
So regardless of whether he thought that would be on therect spouting off, you know, who knows?
But that's a pretty remarkable thing for anybody to say else's inside the white house, especially someone -like bannon who is that high up.
>> well, yes, it is remarkable.
It happens that that's what i've been saying is you have to be careful what your objective is.
If you believe you can't live one more day with these nuclear weapons, then you're backed yourself, yourself into a corner, because there is no quick fix militarily.
It means going to general warfare in korea with hundreds ever thousands, millions of casualties billions of dollars, and at the end of it, after all that, you know, china would probably come out on top, because the united states would wanted to leave and china would say, okay, we'll pick up the pieces and occupy korea.
And japan would probably be damaged and japan would then say, okay, i don't trust the americans.
We're getting our own nuclear weapons.
It would be a really dumb move by the united states.
And that's the danger of setting an objective that's not easily attained.
In fact be our private goal, but we should say it to ourselves privately, not say it publicly.
Say, you know, we need to put them a position where they give up those nuclear weapons, and then we say, okay, well, how do we do that?
And then you work out your different things.
But there's no military answer to this.
So when you say you can't live with it, you have to be careful, because everybody criticized president obama for drawing a red line and said, hey, you drew that red line in syria and then you didn't do anything.
Well, this is the same sin, so to speak, to say you can't live with this and then the next they think that happens is say, okay, you said you couldn't live with it.
What are you doing about it?
Well, we're not doing anything, so it looks like you're living with it.
What we want to do is we want to get those tension levels back down so war doesn't begin by accident or by a miscalculation that somebody thinks, well, they're about to attack.
I better use it before i lose it.
So that's why we need direct dialogue.
And maybe if we cast the dialogue the right way, maybe we will find the key to have north korea say, you know, he'd really like to get rid of my nuclear weapons.
Got to put them in a position to want to giver them up.
>> well, general, thanks for joining us.
We always appreciate your insight.
>> thanks very much.
>> stay with us.
Coming up after a quick break, we'll take a closer look at the political reaction to charlotesville and everything that's followed.
We've got a report from drew petrimoulx in washington ahead.
You're watching capitol view on sunday morning.
>> you're watching capitol view, sunday morning talk, focused on the political theme in arkansas.
>> marchers screaming blood and soil, jews will not replace us, while wielding those torches and bringing a renewed focus on hate groups nationwide.
And if this happened in virginia, but as capitol view's drew petrimoulx shows us, there are several groups with similar views right here in arkansas.
>> there are 16 hate groups in arkansas, according to the is the earn poverty law center.
They include various kkk, neonazi, and anti-islam organizations and also black separate tests.
Juanita gupta is with the leadership conference on civil human rights.
>> what's uniquely shocking right now is how they are coming out of the shadows.
>> a vehicle attack killed one person and injured dozens during a weekend of protests and counter protests in charlotesville, virginia.
Racist groups were there to rally against the removal of a confederate monument.
Arkansas senator tom cotton said members of the hate groups consist of contemptible little men who do not speak for what is just.
Senator john boozman said the violence and hatred in charlotesville is unacceptable.
Bigotry has no place in our society.
>> it is important for all of us in this country to call it for what it is, and these are deeply, deeply divisive philosophies.
>> drew joining us now from washington.
Drew, welcome back to the show.
>> hey, thanks for having me.
>> today marks seven months of donald trump as our president.
It's also been very turbulent for him.
Did this week feel leak a turning pointed in terms of people starting to turn on the president?
We saw ceos turn their backs on him as his economic and infrastructure councils disbanded even.
And some of the strongest words we've heard yet from republican senators.
So i think what you've have to say is the criticism is building and the momentum against him is obviously going in a way, a direction that he would not like.
But you also have to take into account that i think 80% of strong republicans still support the president and that is going to have an impact on lawmakers.
So while there is building frustration here, especially monday the staffs of republican lawmakers, with lawmakers not here right now, i've been hearing a lot from their staffers and some of the frustration that they feel having to constantly react to the president's tweets, frankly.
That there is growing frustration, but a lot of people in the republican base still sticking with him.
So i expect we'll kind of be stuck in the current situation until that changes.
All right and then trump initially blamed many sides for the violence in charlotesville saturday, then rebuked neonazis and the kkk monday, then went back to blaming all sides tuesday.
So we know a lot of this is him shooting from the hip.
Just the trump style.
Is there any political calculation this as we start to round the corner toward 2018?
>> here in washington, the lawmakers are back home, so right now you have a lot of the people that kind of work behind the scenes here in washington.
The people that work for these congressmen, men and women, and work on their staffs, and they're gearing up for a very difficult september.
There's some tough votes on spending and taxes that are going to come up, and you're going to need-- the republicans are going to need to stick together on this.
What they tell me behind the scenes that the way trump speaks and the way the president tweets makes it difficult to hold the coalition together, and there are fashion that his break off.
They're constantly having to react and come up with game plans of what they're going to say about the latest tweet, how they're going react to what the president says, how does that play back home.
And it's a distraction and it takes the energy away from the staff members who are supposed to be working on other very complicated things.
So it's a distraction and it makes getting these very complex issues across the plate even harder, and there's growing frustration among republican staffers because of that.
And it seems like trump is not really willing to change that.
The debate over confederate monuments is heating up this week.
Here in arkansas you had governor hutchinson defending them, despite his strong remarks against white supremacists, but the state democratic party called for them to be removed from the public.
So is this kind of a heat of the moment thing or is there an actual sense that charlotesville ways flash point to keep this debate going?
>> i remember from my time in arkansas, covering the state legislature, the issue of splitting the martin luther king and robert e.
Lee holiday and how that simmered for years before it was finally changed.
It took action from the governor and republicans in the state legislature to finally bring that about.
Here in the united states, there are more than ten, i believe, confederate monuments from different states here in the capitol.
Arkansas is not one of the states that has a confederate soldier or general represent it go here in the capital.
It's an issue here and it kind of brings back the culture war of the president, weighing into that culture war here over the last week.
I think kind of people go to their camps.
If you look at some of the polls, and i've kind of talked to people on both aisles.
I think that it would be a slight majority of americans and members in congress feel like it's okay to keep the monuments around as kind of a testament to our difficult times in the past, but i think a large part of the democratic base would like to see some change, so it's going to be a very interesting to see how politicians navigate what his a very thorny issue-- >> and we'll continue to keep our eye on that.
Drew, thanks for joining us on the show.
>> thanks for having me.
>> when we come back, we'll dive deeper into the debate over confederate monuments and the way that americans look at the history of the civil war today.
You're watching capitol view on sunday morning.
>> you're watching capitol view, sunday morning talk, focused on the political scene in arkansas.
>> welcome back to capitol view.
The unrest in charlotesville ended with violence, but began with disagreement over the removal of a confederate monument.
And it sparked another nationwide debate over what to do with these civil war tributes.
Joining me with some perspective on the history and a look at current culture is dr.john kirk, director of the institute on race and ethnicity at ua in little rock.
We really appreciate you being on the show.
>> pleasure to be here.
Thank you.>> so let's start offs kind of go back in history a little bit.
So let's go all the way back in time to the civil war.
Seven score and 14 years ago, president lincoln delivered that famous gettysburg address, and he was for unity above all else.
How we apply those words that he spoke so long ago during the gettysburg address, especially when we're hearing from our president a completely different rhetoric about charlotesville?
>> yeah, well, i think, you know, the idea of right as it plays in american history as a long, long history as we know, and that history still is playing out today.
It's kind of almost a war over the representation of civil war, the representation of wars and issues gone by.
And i think, you know, now it's saying, the battles that we're seeing in charlotesville are sort of battles over the memory.
Past, just as lincoln was fighting those battles, contemporarily, trump is here in the midst of a reworking and going over of those arguments that has always been there and always been at the core of how people have understood and perceived race in american history.
>> so how would you grade, as far as, like, a letter grade, trump's response to everything happening in charlotesville and now the aftermath of it?
>> well, it seems fairly indecisive.
His message seems to have changed day by day, and i don't think that helps very much with unity when the message changes.
But i think, you know, what charlotesville has really done is sort of linked the neoconfederate cause with the neonazi cause very directly in people's minds, and of course, you know, the neonazi coalition is very toxic and the alt right has become very toxic, and i think what we've seen there, from the fallout from charlotesville, is what's happened across cities, across the united states.
People have moved very quickly to remove those confederate statues, because they seem to have become so tainted, and even today, we saw president trump remove steve bannon from the white house, who, of course, is the most notorious face and voice of the alt right, and i think that is not unrelated to events in charlotesville.
So i think, you know, the toxicity of the alt right and the neonazi cause and how that's become linkedin the public mind very explicitly to the neoconfederate cause now is one of the major things that's really come out of what happened in charlotesville.
>> and you brought up the kind of monuments debate that's come to the forefront of our country.
So there's that nationwide push to remove these confederate monuments, and we're even seeing it here at the arkansas democratic party.
It came out and said it should be done.
The majority of these monuments were constructed after the civil war, which of course the confederacy lost.
Something i thought was interesting is, you know, if these statues actually truly serve to celebrate southern culture, then why is it all whited as far as the statues go?
And then doesn't it seem kind inform balance that we recognize leaders who fought this sort of insurrection against the u.s.?
>> it would certainly seem so and you're right.
A fascinating to look at what the monuments were built.
The vast majority were built 50 or 60 years of the actually vents and they were built in the first decades of the 20th century, right at the height of segregation, disenfranchisement, lynchings, and there's another spike in the 1960s when the civil rights movement emerged.
So you can very directly correlate the building of confederate monuments with attempts to preserve white supremacy.
So historically there's a strong connection between those two things, and of course, you believe, the latest events only sort of ride on the back of that with the times when you see a sort of rise in white supremacy.
You also see a rise in questions around confederate monuments and the buildings and renewal of confederate monuments and there's interest over the last twenty careers, 32 new confederate monuments have gone up.
It's not about the past.
It's more and always has been really with the etiology of the present rather than commemorating the past.
>> and then kind of playing from the other side, others, including president trump himself, are arguing that removing the monuments kind of repudiates history and so do communities risk kind of sanitizing history if they get rid of monuments to people like robert e.
Lee and stonewall jackson.
>> i can see both sides.
Arguments really, and i can see, you know, that erasure of the past not being necessarily always a good thing, but i think we've reached a point now, and i think many people in the nation feel that we've reached a point where those monuments have really been stripped of all the historic value, of all the historicity and have become purely and simply symbols of white supremacy and that's all they seem to stand to for.
>> you think history is this model, who and what has the ability to unite this country, or have we nerve really been the united states of america?
>> well, the united states has always had different groups and different coalitions, but you know, i think one of the things that is uniting the nation at the moment are events in charlotesville and i think one of the things that people are united against is the neonazi movement.
And i think, you believe, the repulsion that's been viewed on all sides of politics from republican to democrat across the aisles, you know, one of the things that people can unite on, it seems, is what they disagree about.
And they certainly disagree with the neonazi cause.
I think there's revulsion at what they stand for and the way that they operate, so i think, you know, sometimes these moments can unite people in opposition and being united in opposition to certain things can provide a building block for greater option on other issues, he think, too.
>> dr.kirk, thanks for joining us.
You have some great insight.
>> a pleasure, thank you very much.
>> of course.
Stick with us.
We are right back to wrap it up after this.
You're watching capitol view on sunday morning.
Third graders today.
Their new gogurt tubes are easy open.
Consists of sitting around on mats.
Oh, mom, making them eat their favorite snack in the back seat.
Whatever happened to "eating at the table?"
That's what cup holders are for.
>> you're watching capitol view, sundays morning talk focused on the political scene in arkansas.
>> and we can't close out the show without saying good-bye to an arkansas ledge end.
The state lost frank broyles this week.
The u of actual's all time winningest coach who died at the age of 92.
Broyles is well-known for leading the hogs to their own national championship in 1964, but he's being remembered this week as a pioneer on and off the field.
He was universally respected for calling things like he saw them and making the university a place where people wanted to come.
And that's it for today's show.
We want to know your thoughts on all of the issues we discussed during capitol view, among the many others affecting our state.
Make sure you use the hashtag my capitol view on twitter and facebook, both during and after the show.
We can continue the conversation together.
We're back with an all new capitol view next week.
Enjoy the rest of your weekends.
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