AUGUST 28, 2005 - Posted at 11:25 a.m. CDT
NEW YORK CITY - Retired Army General Wesley Clark, of Little Rock, told a nationwide audience on Sunday morning that there are still diplomatic options for the United States in Iraq. But he also said if they are not pursued, the situation could dissolve into civil war.
Clark, a former supreme NATO commander and Democratic presidential candidate, made the comments on NBC's "Meet the Press" in a round-table discussion on Iraq with three other retired generals. They were Barry McCaffrey, Wayne Downing, and Montgomery Meigs.
Clark repeated his recent criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war, saying the president was "repeating the failure of Vietnam" and leaning too heavily on military forces without diplomatic support.
Clark's stance pitted him against his fellow generals, particularly Meigs and Downing. Downing said diplomatic efforts were being made behind the scenes. Clark said open and clear negotiations were an integral part of the NATO war effort he led in the Balkans in the late 1990's, and similar efforts have been missing in Iraq.
When Clark painted a bleak picture ahead for American troops, Meigs stepped in to say the problems are being corrected and halting diplomacy is starting to work. He said he disagreed with Clark's assessment that Americans would be displeased with the job in Iraq when all is said and done.