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On this channel, we spend most of our time focusing on the macroeconomic picture.

But the economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

It’s influenced and impacted by innumerable forces, with perhaps the strongest being geopolitics — how nations set monetary, financial and trade policy & how they apply and revise these policies when cooperating and competing with one another.

Lately the geopolitical landscape has become more fractured — the redrawing of global trade in the wake of the war in the Ukraine as one key example. And the rising tension between the USA and China over Taiwan is another.

What implications will result fro, these geopolitical changes over the coming years?

To find out, we’re fortunate to be joined by a true expert, General Wesley Clark, who served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe during the late ’90s, ran for President in the Aughts, and today consults with private and public companies around the world on energy, security & financial services.

Full disclosure: General Clark sits on the Advisory Board of the parent company of Wealthion.


General Wesley Clark 0:00
But the key is, yes, of course, military power is an important deterrent. But the real deterrent is the strength of the American economy and the political system. That’s the real deterrent. That’s the real force for peace in the world and we’re together as a nation. If we really unleash our creative, and manufacturing and construction skills, there’s no one that can match us. See, the key for the United States is we are a self correcting society. At least that’s the theory of democracy. Nobody else has that.

Adam Taggart 0:42
Welcome to Wealthion. I’m Wealthion founder Adam Taggart. On this channel, we spend most of our time focusing on the macro economic picture. But the economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s influenced and impacted by innumerable forces, with perhaps the strongest being geopolitics, how nations set monetary, financial and trade policy, and how they apply and revise these policies when cooperating and competing with one another. Lately, the geopolitical landscape has become more fractured. The redrawing of global trade in the wake of the war in the Ukraine is one key example. When implications will result from these geopolitical changes over the coming years. To find out we’re fortunate to be joined by a true expert, General Wesley Clark, who served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe during the late 90s. ran for president and they yachts, and today consults with private and public companies around the world on energy security and financial services. Full disclosure, General Clark sits on the advisory board of the parent company of Wealthion. General Clark, thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.

General Wesley Clark 1:51
It’s great to be with you, Adam.

Adam Taggart 1:53
Well, it’s a real honor. I got a number of questions here for you. If we can, let me let me start with a sort of a high level question just to use as a jumping off point here. After several decades of relative peace and cooperation, international alliances and trade relationships are fast becoming redrawn. What’s your current assessment of the trajectory of the geopolitical landscape? Where do international relations appear headed over the next five years to?

General Wesley Clark 2:25
Well, it is a big question, but let me explain it this way. The United States is fundamentally on Atlantic power. Europe is our cultural home, it’s our it’s a base for our strongest set of alliances. It’s where we put the priority in World War One and World War Two. Its foreign direct investment, its cultural heritage, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There are democracies, they are the closest relatives we have in the world. So we have to think of the United States and ask ourselves, How can we become closer to Europe? Now, this is a big departure from what American policy has been, at least since 2009, when under the Democrats, President Obama transitioned a pivot to Asia, as though because China’s going to become the greatest economic force in the world. Therefore, we need to look at Asia. That’s true, we do. But our base our support is transatlantic. We are a European power. We have been for 100 years now. And if we’re going to maintain America’s role and influence in the world, we have to stay as a European power first. So we have to look very closely, we got rid of the European and American investment planning that was done in under the Obama administration is just sort of disappeared under Donald Trump. And what we need is a stronger relationship with our European allies, we need to use the United States and its enormous market to wean them somewhat away from their dependence on the Chinese market. We need to need to build a stronger Transatlantic Investment, research, development and trade community. And we need to bring as much of South America into this as possible. That’s the recipe for preservation of democracy and peace in the world. Now, it’s also important to look at where we are in Asia, of course, we don’t want a war with China. I don’t think the Chinese really want a war with the United States. But I will tell you, I was in China. I remember in 2013, shortly after Xi Jinping really established his authority and power. And the Chinese sent one of their agents to tell me said we’re not afraid of nuclear war in China. We have 600 In excess people, the Chinese 10 years later may not be so willing to dispense with their people because they’re facing a demographic challenge. But at least in their thinking, they’ve been very careful to say they’re not afraid of war. That doesn’t mean that they want it. Xi Jinping has got many challenges at home Still, despite the fact that he is now the unchallengeable. He is challenged, but not. But he’s basically unchallengeable as the leader of China, in the near term, at least. And so I think we have to just look for ways to manage China. Sometimes it might be cooperative, like on on climate change, sometimes it will be competitive in technology. Sometimes it will be adversarial, like in their relationship over Taiwan. But the biggest thing we can do to work Asia, is not just to build strong alliances. We’ve got that with Korea, in Japan, we call it the quad. We have Australia, we bring in India. But that’s not going to replace NATO, we’re not going to become a Pacific power, in the same way that we are an Atlantic or European power, we have to understand that the key to managing China is what we do in the United States. We lost enormous credibility with China, in the recession of 2008 2009. When we came out of it, yeah, we had a recovery program, about a third of it was in in tax cuts. And the tax cuts were under people’s pocketbooks, but not much happened. China saw it differently. They invested in 10s, of 1000s of kilometers of high speed rail, as well as other infrastructure and they came out of it understanding Hey, the United States, it’s not so great. In 2005, when I was in China, president whose youth advisor told me he said, We Americans know that you and Britain were friends and Britain gave you leadership of the world. So China wants to be friends with America. So you will give us leadership of the world. Now, everybody would laugh at this, because obviously the United States is not going to cede leadership of the world to China, even if we were best friends with China. But after 2008 2009, they no longer say that. It’s they want to take leadership of the world, whether it’s in technology, whether it’s in finance, whether it’s in forcing the United States back from the Western Pacific, in greater control suzerainty over these other nations in the Pacific. So it’s a much more assertive China today. But the key is, yes, of course, military power is an important deterrent. But the real deterrent is the strength of the American economy and the political system. That’s the real deterrent. That’s the real force for peace in the world, if we’re together. As a nation, if we really unleash our creative, and manufacturing and construction skills, there’s no one that can match us. See, the key for the United States is we’re a self correcting society. At least that’s the theory of democracy. Nobody else has that. Russia or China, they can go off the deep end, especially the more autocratic they become. If you’re looking at the zero COVID policy in China, you say, well, that that’s it didn’t make sense. It made a lot of sense. Because Xi Jinping said that’s the way it’s going to be. Some of the people in Shanghai said, we’re not so fond of Xi Jinping. So let’s over do the policy to embarrass him. And there’s that kind of feedback loop in these autocratic systems. In the United States. We have elections, national elections every two years. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we change our mind. We’re, we’re in the third great period of American politics since the American Civil War, and it’s almost over. You know, we had the Gilded Age, we had the Progressive Era. We’re in the age of Reagan, the age of Reagan is like, get government out of the way. Stop crowding out the private sector, I’m gonna give you back your money. It’s all of the ideas of the leadership of the privates, or these great CEOs, who are the champions of free enterprise, it’s all about freedom. But then somewhere along the line somebody says what about the common good? What about the country? Why are we landed an airport in the United States that looks like a third world country because our bridges falling down? Why is it that we can’t keep up on height? why don’t why are we not have high speed rail? And we start to ask these questions and you know, it’s cycle. This is what makes America strong. This is what our, our, our competitors abroad don’t have. And so when you see the rising voices on the left, don’t get mad at them Don’t say you’re not taking my money. Just understand that it takes a balance to bring the country forward. None of us did this by ourselves. There’s no Coca Cola, or union carbide or, or Boeing that hasn’t come about, or Elon Musk that hasn’t come about without support from other people, including the US government. You know, we started the airlines, we regulated the airwaves, we had a fairness doctrine and television. But we limited the ownership in a single market of public communications, like radio stations and TV stations. And then we sort of said, Hey, I like to do it more efficiently. I’ll the everyday low prices. And so at that era is ending. And it’s part of what makes our system strong. The truth is that there is a value in progressive taxation. And there is a value and looking at the common good. And it just has to be balanced off. And so that’s the way America works. So if we want to manage China, we’re worried about geopolitics look inward, don’t be thinking you’re going to invest in another 100 billion dollars of missiles. And that’s going to stop China. What’s going to stop China in their tracks, is when they say America is coming together, America is moving forward on a unified policy. America can handle healthcare, unemployment, inflation, education, research and development, that are looking at America. We’re the model for the world. And so we’re coming through this, what’s been a difficult to two decades really since the turn of the century. And I think we’re gonna see some new directions. I think it’s going to be good for us.

Adam Taggart 12:12
Well, that is a fantastic answer. And I have like 50 different directions that go with it. But you know, I capitalism, it but it economies, least, Western economies progress in cycles, right? You get the boom bust cycle. And that’s sort of how capitalism works, right? You have the creative disk, you have good times you get access to new creative destruction, and then hopefully, the better models then then rise from there. societally, we have researchers, demographers that say the same thing I’m not sure if you’re familiar with, you know, Neil house, fourth turning model. But you know, sort of generationally, we see a similar peak and trough and and he basically says, we’re in a fourth turning right now, which is characterized by a lot of volatility and uncertainty, but you come out of that, and you end up having better times. You’re nodding as I’m saying this, okay. So

General Wesley Clark 13:11
there’s a point I missed out on that, I should have said, look, okay. The United States is a much beloved country, not necessarily by government, elites all over the world. You know, everybody has their concerns of the Feds raising interest rates, that hurts my my, my international payments, blah, blah, blah. But ordinary people want, what we have the freedom, the communities, the opportunity to grow. They want that all over the world. That’s why millions of people are struggling to get into the United States across the border, they want security, they want the rule of law, they want opportunity, they want something better for their children. That’s what we have. And so you know, demography aside, the fact that the birth rate for white Americans is going down, yeah, but we’re, we’ve got lots of other people who want to come in here, live in our system and make this work. We’ve got to find a way to win. We’re a nation of immigrants, we’ve always been a nation of immigrants, got to bring these people in in a responsible way. And let them participate, grow and and become part of us, because they make us stronger, and make lives better for our children.

Adam Taggart 14:26
That is a that is a great point. I want to talk about sort of how we’re doing in this transition right now, sort of what grade you would give us in terms of how we’re handling all this. I want to touch upon the three main pillars you mentioned, which are military power, strength of the economy, and the strength of our political system as well. And maybe even compare them to a little bit too in contrast them to say maybe China and a few other big players in the world, but but generally right now. You know it. We’ve had a lot of prosperity. I’m in America in the past couple of decades, I will say it has concentrated near the top, you know, we’ve had a wealth gap that we haven’t had in this country for, it’s worse than it’s been for much of the country’s history. You know, I’m sure we can come up with a net Well, in politically, you know, we it’s an exceptionally partisan time. It’s going on right now. So, you know, we can definitely sit back and point out a lot of the problems here. Is that just unfair Monday morning quarterbacking, or are we could we be doing a better job than what we’re doing right now, in terms of managing this transition from, you know, the Third Age?

General Wesley Clark 15:39
You know, in politics, I learned three rules, define yourself, define your opponent and react quickly to attacks. That’s what former Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards gave me as his rule. That was after I’d run for office. Sure, I’d known it before. But the point is that you have to expect in politics that there gonna be more than one answer to most problems. Because when people are running for office, there’s got to be a reason for you to vote for him. They’ve got to be different from the guy that’s in there. And so Newt Gingrich really did create a different Republican Party. And he really did create a Republican Party that fought back, it wasn’t just going to be rubber stamp, it wasn’t just going to look okay. But it’s like we used to say in the military, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. And we’ve overdone a lot of that fighting that partisanship in America. Okay, we got the point established. You know, there was too much government in the 1960s and 70s. It went overboard in the 70s. People looked at it, I was in the Ford administration, as a White House fellow, I worked for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, we used to go to the Hill and briefed these crazy organization charts that showed overlapping jurisdictions benefits. And every one of them was tied to a separate House subcommittee, and they would let go of it. Because they’re, they were getting votes off of this. And so yeah, Reagan came in and sort of cut the knot. And, and that started the age of Reagan, get government out of the way. And so we’ve been wrestling with it ever since. But it’s probably, you know, reached its its zenith, we need to cut this back, because we realize we’re not making the wise social investments. We’ve got, as you say, a really harmful Gini factor. Right now, we’re probably the most inequitable society in the modern world, and the most inequitable we’ve been in 100 years. And that’s not good for the country, because it leads to resentment. And it leads to the kinds of hyper partisanship that undercut the great democracy that we have and that we seek to improve. So yeah, we could do a better job of this, but we’re going to have to let the voters do this. It’s the voters who say that Marjorie Taylor Greene, we’ve had enough. Or on the other side, AOC, we’ve had enough. Okay, you got your publicity, people are looking at you. And then what are the voters going to say? And somehow this is common sense through electioneering, has worked in the American experiment for 250 years, we swing back and forth. But, you know, when I was a student at, at West Point, and at Oxford in the 1960s, every American college student read politics by Robert Dahl. And Robert doll, cited the study of the American Political Science Association, it said, What’s wrong with America politically, is the political parties don’t stand for anything. They should be like, British political parties. And in there instead, they’ve got moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans and liberal Republicans. And the same with the Democrats. It’s too confusing. Well, it may have been confusing, but it also led to some some amazing outcomes in American legislation, and in the American governance, and now we’ve got more intellectually separate parties. And so they’re finding it hard in a nation that’s electorally split, almost 5050 to come together and work through policy. And I think the American people will have the ultimate say on this. I think that what you’re hearing from the American people today is that they do want the right for women to control their own bodies. This abortion issue is a big issue. It’s going to be big in the election. They’re really tired of mass shootings in this country. So the NRA and the gun lobby, you know, keep working it But you’re on the losing side of this. And, and the the sort of discord and dysfunction in American politics, people are tired of it. They want people to work together. Now, one of my friends who’s a pollster said before the 2020 22 midterms, he said, Look, the American people, they don’t want bipartisanship. They want effective strong government. They want a leader said, Well, that’s a recipe for fascism. But the election actually didn’t show that there was no red wave. The American people is something about it, no matter how you gerrymander it, but dark money into it, use social media, outside interference, somehow the system at least thus far is it rocks and rolls back and forth, it moves through cycles, but it’s moving in a certain direction. And that direction right now is for greater attention to the common good. We’re going to fix Social Security, it’s not going to go away for this generation, we’re going to fix Medicare, something’s going to happen to those high pharmaceutical prices. And there will be gun control. So when China and Russia look at this, they’re going to be very disappointed. You know, Russia has tried for almost 100 years to incite race war in the United States. And it’s a lot easier with social media, it’s not going to happen. China’s now learning from Russian methods on, on, on what on their social media and also through their Confucius societies, and efforts on university campuses and elsewhere with their secret police just saw an article in The New York Times on this, these Americans busted for working for the Chinese government on an illegal Chinese police station in New York City. Look, that’s going to fail, they’re going to be very disappointed by the direction of America. I’m very optimistic on this. And that’s the political system. Let’s try

Adam Taggart 22:05
just real quick to put a bow on that you just listed a whole bunch of issues that, you know, people can and are raising today to say, oh, my gosh, the country’s going to hell in a handbasket because of you know, pick your your Flashpoint topic. What I hear you saying is is yes, those are all real issues. But the the mechanism of governance is actually working it we’re not seeing an existential breakdown in the American machinery here from from a governance standpoint, you’re just saying, yeah, it’s gonna be messy, it’s probably gonna take a while. But but this is just sort of how it all works. And in the long run, you’re quite optimistic that we’ll have better outcomes.

General Wesley Clark 22:46
Yeah, it only looks messy. If you think the government is supposed to look like a well tuned machine, like a business. Government is not like a business. This is these are people that have anger, those emotional outbursts, that’s the way issues get decided in his country. And, um, people are on the outside. Don’t understand it. Okay. Let me ask you this question. Well, American strength, that’s why we have the Bill of Rights.

Adam Taggart 23:15
Correct. Okay. Let me ask you this question, which is, it’s often said that humans being humans, human nature, we don’t like to change generally. And so the way that human driven systems tend to move is they only change when the, the pain of continuing the status quo begins to exceed the pain of changing. And so if you look through that lens, if you agree with that, how much pain Do you see ahead of us before we see real change on some of the stuff you’re talking about? In other words, like, are we making good progress? Are we pretty close in these things gonna get dealt with in a good enough timeframe? Or do we have further to fall in some of these issues where it’s going to need to get really crazy, like maybe we saw in the late 60s, before some of the real change that you’re talking about happens?

General Wesley Clark 24:05
Yeah, well, we have a surrogate for pain in this country. I mean, I, you know, your your, what you’re saying about the human condition, the surrogate is the election system. And you feel the pain. Most of us feel, okay. I mean, but we’re not running for reelection. If you’re running for reelection, your whole life is caught up and what does what do my constituents are they going to do? Where do I go? How do I get how do I balance off? They don’t they don’t want they they’re down on assault rifles, but I’m getting money from the NRA. What am I going to do? How am I going to how am I going to do this? That’s going on right now in the Republican Party. And so that’s the that’s the machinery of democracy in action. The pain is borne by the politicians and there wouldn’t be politicians first. That’s the outlet for the pain that the alert Meanwhile, people So yeah, I’m really mad about these assault weapons. But meanwhile I gotta go to my kids soccer game. No. So, so let’s only that’s the that’s the beauty of American society. That’s what the analysts in China and Russia that think America’s weak don’t understand. But Adam, I want to talk about the economy. Can we do that? Please? Let’s go there next. Okay. So look, I used to teach economics and, and like so many of us of our generation, of course, I learned it from Samuelson and Samuelson was a Keynesian. But then I looked and worked pretty carefully on on monetarist theory also. And here’s the problem that we don’t, Keynes said at one point that everything a politician says is, is is really started with some obscure economists years before, maybe that was true in Keynes time, because they were throwing back to market theory. But the truth is today that President Biden is out wrong economic theory. That’s the truth. Keynesian is not quite doesn’t quite work because of the leakages in the economy. And maybe because of technology, high technology, and r&d, and so forth. But, but certainly there is a room for macro economic theory, it’s not all just about the definition of money, which no one can quite define, and then what the interest rate is. And so when you look at what’s going on in this economy today, imagine this. So there’s an there are exogenous causes to inflation, the war in Ukraine, still supply chain kinks, efforts to restore manufacturing to the United States, and so forth. And in return, what we’re going to do is raise interest rates and hope that will cause a man or two and Americans to lose their jobs. And in the process, we’re going to screw all these other countries all over the world, because our interest rates are high, we’re sucking currency, and exchange out of their markets and into our markets. Now. We’ve got to have some new economic thinking, during the I was in the in the Obama job conference in 2009. And, and I remember all the discussions in that conference and, and hearing these CEOs stand up in lecture, the President, if you don’t fix and tell us what our healthcare expenses are going to be, we won’t be able to grow our companies well as a real bullying statement. But the point is that the healthcare expenses for these companies were actually marginal. And what we had is a long period of very low interest rates, which encouraged a lot of speculation as people saw higher rates of return. And what President Biden has done is he’s put money into the economy at the bottom, rather than in the middle rather than at the top. And it’s people who need that money and will spend it, which will actually grow the economy and lift up people at the top. So you don’t have to chase these imaginary returns of hyper speculation on real estate and slicing up mortgages and so forth, if what you’re really doing is meeting the needs of ordinary people, their families, for what they need to grow the their families to put food on the table clothes on their back, get kids educated. It’s a it’s an approach that doesn’t have an exact economic model. I mean, some of my friends who are economists that I won’t bother to name, or they’re chastising, you’re gonna agree gonna work on it. So this is going to happen that’s going to have instead of what’s happened is, we haven’t had a recession yet. We haven’t thrown the million people out of work, and always seem to be working our way through this despite the efforts of the Fed. So I think that, you know, the country’s in, in pretty good shape in many respects. What I’m worried about is I’m worried about the impact of Ukraine, and what will happen in Ukraine overall, because we have we’ve done Ukraine’s done several things. Number one, it of course, it did cause inflation of food. Number two, it put extraordinary strain on the American dollar. Reason is we created sanctions. And we’re punishing people over all over the world because they use the American dollar. Well, you know, I’d rather see us rewarding people because they’re using the American dollar. We sort of got into it by accident. We came off the gold standard in the early 70s. The Shah of Iran and others inflated the price of oil we came up with Euro dollars before you knew it. The world’s running on dollars. And and it’s been holy do Americans benefit? Totally in our favor. We want to keep it that way. When I hear criticism about fiat currency, I, what’s the source of that? What’s this all about really, what is the criticism on fiat currency? Because it rests on the credibility and strength of the American economy and the American political system? And I’m pretty proud of it. I think we handle ourselves, right? It’s, we’re good to go. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have hard assets should have a diversified portfolio. I do. And I think most people do. But the point is that we’ve got, we’ve put a lot of pressure on the US dollar, and it won’t be in our interest. If the rumen B, or a basket of rubles, renminbi and brands become the standard currency in the world, or even a major part of it. Now thus far, we’re a long way from that happening now. Well, my next question, and I don’t think that’s in the near term. But you know, markets, and probably the people watching us want to be a head of reality. So you know, the oil prices, the oil future price. And so in this case, please don’t make a mistake and bet against the United States, you’re going to be wrong, you’re going to be wrong. shouldn’t bet against the United States, we will come through this. And that’s the dollar pot. But right now, when I listen to my friends in the Middle East, especially some of my friends in Israel, they’re like, Oh, my God, America is losing, you know, look at the Saudis and the Iranians are getting together. And, you know, look at the stiff arm that MBS gave to Biden, and, you know, Israel is going to have to look a different way. We can’t depend on the United States. And I hear all this talk.

Come on, get a grip. This the United States of America where the biggest economy in the world are the most productive. Were the strongest military. We’re not going anywhere. We will be there because we’re self correcting. We look at what’s happening. NBS, that’s not a self correcting system. That’s one guy’s control of a country. The same with the other countries now Mr. Irwin, standing for election here next month, we’ll see how that turns out. He’s had two decades really, of influence. And in Turkey, let’s see what the Turkish people think about it, if it’s a free and fair election, if and we don’t know that. But when you have a self correcting system, you have something that’s really strong. So I’m worried about Ukraine, because the impact on the dollar, and I want to ask your people watching this program, don’t bet against us. Okay. The second thing is I’m worried about what it shows about our military capacity. 1990s, we took the peace dividend. And we tried to explain why we needed American military power. We had illustrated planning scenarios, mono that doesn’t require 10 aircraft carriers, then we went to two major, nearly simultaneous regional contingencies, Korea and Iraq, 45 days apart. Well, okay, so that sort of justified the defense budget, but in the meantime, the defense industry was consolidating. And we went from numerous OEMs down to just a few, four or five, really, and it just boom, boom, boom, boom, and the policy of the US government is, hey, we’re not going to give you extra contracts just to keep your business in place. I mean, that’s not the role of the government. We’re, we’re, you know, we want products, we want services, surgery, defense, William Cohen came into office, understanding that he had to sort of protect the defense establishment from the ravages of the peace dividend. And I think he did a good job laying the foundation for that. But then we got into the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we got very, very limited innovation. It was innovation in a specific area, we did a great job with reconnaissance and unmanned aerial vehicles, communications and systematizing, Stan McChrystal, and going after the insurgents and so forth. But in terms of the basic fundamentals are people like well, do we need tanks to really need all those artillery? I mean, there were artillery units in Iraq that might fire 10 rounds a day or less. In Ukraine in 2014, the Ukrainian units that were defending in the battles around the Bolsheviks, were firing 600 rounds of artillery per tube per day. Wow, they were burning out the artillery tubes in a week or two, because that’s what it takes. And their artillery as a result was highly inaccurate. But, you know, we didn’t anticipate that we’d ever have to fight another war like that. And now we see that we do so we’re really gearing up. We should be gearing up for two really different France, on the one hand, we want to deter China in the Pacific, okay, we’re probably not going to land and invade China that nobody has done it successfully. And we’re not going to try it. We do want Taiwan not to be attacked. And so we’re looking at long range air missiles, distributed supply the ability of small groups to, to launch attacks at ranges of hundreds of miles, maybe 1000s of miles across the vast spaces of the South China Sea and the Pacific. That’s one area battlefield. Of course, we need space, reconnaissance, cyber protection, satellites will be attacked at cetera. And then there’s Europe. Now, it may be that the Ukrainians are going to push back the Russians and Putin will fall apart and we’ll say, Boy, more that worked really great. That’s the end of one dictatorship won’t be the end of challenges. But it’ll be the end of one dictatorship, but But right now, that doesn’t look like that’s the most likely outcome. Most likely outcome, Putin still thinks he’s winning, looks like a stalemate to him, that he will win because he knows democracies, they have elections in Europe, there’s a election in every country, every three or four years, sometimes every two years. And so that means in Europe as a whole, every two or three months, major decisions are held up because we’re writing for the election, Belgium, Germany, France, Britain, whatever. And so he knows the system. And so he thinks he’s going to he’s going to win this. We don’t want him to win it. My view would be we need to take greater risks and providing Ukraine the equipment that it needs. We need to say up front that Ukraine is going to become a member of NATO, thanks to Mr. Putin. And we need to be very upfront with what we’re saying. And it’s going to take some strong leadership and some risk taking to do this. But this is the success path for us. Once this is established as a US when on the ground, a lot of the fence sitters in the bricks and in the Gulf are going to look at this. It’s our we all have this strategic relationship in mind with Russia, not such a good idea. And the pendulum will swing back toward America as the as the essential, irreplaceable power. And I think that’s what’s going to happen provided we’re willing to see this through in Ukraine, and is not just a matter of saying we’ll be with it as long as the Ukrainians are we need to stronger policies and we’re going to help the Ukrainians when we want Russia out of Ukraine, out of Crimea, out of Donbass out, the war will end when you’re out. And then you know, we’ll talk about reparations, work wrongs, repatriating people finding those 14,000 or however many children had been abducted by the Russians. But this is the international rules based order. We created it as Americans. And at the end of the Second World War, we paid in blood for this order. And this generation of Americans in this generation of American leadership can’t let it go.

Adam Taggart 38:18
And do you see the Constitution there in the US and in Europe for that, for that type of resolution that it would take to do that?

General Wesley Clark 38:27
I think the Constitution is here in the United States. I think it needs to be sharpened up a little bit because I think this is what General Milley when General Milley says he doesn’t see a Ukrainian military win this year. I think he’s telling people here, you people aren’t doing enough for the Ukrainians if you want to really finish this thing. I know there’s a debate, there’s fear of Putin, there’s fear of the nuclear weapons, okay, none of that fear is irrational, it’s all reasonable. But you it’s a matter of sort of taking sensible risks. We’re cooking the frog in the pot slowly. But just because the temperatures reached 160 degrees or whatever, doesn’t mean you’re going to turn off the heat. So they need those F 16. Those eight tackles, they need more artillery production, we should have geared up our industrial base to produce these basic stuffs of industrial age warfare sooner than we have. They’re using more artillery ammunition and 155 millimeter in Ukraine every day than we produce in a week in this country. So we’re just continually drawing down stocks and what you’re not seeing around the world is the Russians of course know this. So when we go to countries like South Korea, or or the Middle East, or Jordan or whatever, it’s not like Russia says, oh, yeah, go ahead. sell the stuff to Ukraine. We don’t care. It’s our old stuff. They’re telling him no, and there are even some cases buying it away from us by paying For more money and not inspecting it, so there’s a competitive procurement struggle out there. The situation in Ukraine may look like a stalemate, it is not a stalemate. That’s, that’s what I want to impress on your viewers. It is not a stalemate, it’s either going to go one way or the other. And the reason is Ukraine is a democratic country, they’re not going to have 10 years of a war like this. That’s not true with Russia. In Russia, way, the the mentality is, the more you suffer, the more suffering is, is is validated. And so Putin has got larger reservoirs of manpower to draw on. Ukraine is a, it’s a beachhead of freedom, it’s an opportunity to establish rule of law in a troubled region, it’s an opportunity to set an example to the world of the values of of a democratic system, and as well as to supporting the rules based international order. So we can’t afford to let it go.

Adam Taggart 41:11
Okay, so so that’s what happens. You said, Okay, this is not a stalemate, it’s going to go one way or the other. We it becomes that Bastion, if if we indeed support it, and drive to the resolution, where Russia gets pushed out. Devils argument’s sake, what would be the outcome, if it goes the other way.

General Wesley Clark 41:32
There will be a period of consolidation by Russia, some enormous ethnic cleansing. You’d hear of millions of people, but but then you’re hearing of that in Afghanistan, and you’re seeing the slaughter, but but it’s not making the headlines. You’d have a lot worse headlines coming out of Ukraine, because he’s people in there, Europeans, and they’re trying to get out. And they have got the language and the access to get out. So you’d hear some terrible war crimes going on in Ukraine, as Russia consolidated. A million people executed that kind of thing. And three, or four, and you’d see an immediate threat, then as Russia built back its armed forces to Poland. Now, if Ukraine were to collapse, probably Poland would intervene before the Russians could get to the border, because Poland knows it’s the next victim. The poor countries of the Baltics, they’ve struggled so hard to preserve their culture, their language or civilization. The Russia tried to incorporate them in the 19th century and refine everything. And they fought back at the end of World War Two, and established the Baltic Republics. And then World War Two they were after World War One. World War Two, they were reincorporated into the Soviet Union. And they’ve struggled and now they’re independent. They’re NATO members. What are we going to do with those countries? If we allow Russia to take over Ukraine, we’re going to say, Okay, here’s a red line, what we’re going to deploy 100,000 troops to Estonia, so Russia can evade What if What if they invade, we’re going to use nuclear weapons to stop them in Estonia, because we don’t have the ground troops. We don’t want to face those decisions. Those decisions are best avoided. And the way to avoid them is to arm Ukraine more robustly today. Now, if Ukraine falls, what you’re going to see is the United States and Europe are going to have they’re going to be a come to Jesus meeting. And I think you’re gonna have to see a major major rearmament program in Europe. And we’re going to be going back to Cold War standards. And we had 550,000 Americans in Europe, during the height of the Cold War. We’ve got like 60,000 there now, plus some rotational units. So roughly a 10th of what we had had, we’re gonna build it back up and Germany’s got a great its army back and Spain’s a member of NATO, we expect Spain to make a contribution. And Italy, got to put those forces into Romania or wherever, there’s going to be a strong frontline look, we had, we had all those troops defending a 400 mile border, from the North Sea down to Switzerland, in the Cold War. And now it’s like a 2400 mile border from Estonia, all the way around through Romania. So you can imagine what the difficulties of this will be. And it’s a matter for American leadership to bring the reality of this home to the European people, and they will express their determination through the election system. You know, President McCrone is he sees the problem, and he’s, you know, struggling with this. He wants to see the war ended. He didn’t want to see Ukraine surrender, but he wants a war in Did and he’d like to see France retain its historic leadership position. He sees that in the face of a successful Russian seizure of Ukraine, and the need for rearm at France’s independence will be further submerged. He doesn’t want that. France doesn’t want it. But the path to success is not to sort of prevail upon another bad guy China to come in and rescue me. That’s not the path. The path is support Ukraine are dealing with one of my French friends last summer, he says, How long is this going to go on? How much do you expect of us? I said, Well, right now, France has only given 18 artillery tubes. So we expect you to do more than that. I said, and he said, How long is this sustainable is your your artillery manufacturers would love to see it sustained a long time? I’m sure they’d like to prove it 18 tubes a month to give to Ukraine? He said, Oh, I see what you mean. I mean, it’s we’re not asking that much of the Europeans right now. But if Ukraine falls, they’re gonna have to ask a lot.

Adam Taggart 46:04
Got it. And I hear what you’re saying is, is from your perspective, we’re going to need to ask whatever it takes, because this is this, this is a battle that sort of has to be won for the type of future that that we want to have from sort of a democracy western values standpoint. That’s right. Okay. Thank you for giving us so I mean, it’s, it’s fascinating to hear all of this from somebody such as yourself, who, as I mentioned, you were you were Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, I mean, you’re not just pontificating here, like, you know, the players, you know, the geography, you know, the history. This is just an incredible privilege to be able to hear all this. So thank you for giving us so much time and insight. I do have a few more questions here for you, if that’s okay, I want to be respectful of your time. So as part of all this, one of the things that sort of accelerated this D dollarization, you know, issue that we were talking about a little while ago, was the West’s and largely America’s immediate response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by kind of weaponizing the financial system against Russia, you know, seizing assets and cutting them out of Swift and all that stuff. And the, what I’ve heard, and you can corroborate if this is true, is that, you know, that caught a lot of America’s sort of fringe allies. You know, it caught their attention where they said, Wow, maybe I’m in America’s good graces today. But I might not be tomorrow. And I don’t want to be so vulnerable to tactics like that. So therefore, I need to invest in coming up with some of these alternative systems. And to a certain extent, that just makes sense, right, in the whole geopolitical chess game. But what’s interesting is we’re hearing these articles of, you know, the BRICS countries kind of creating their own trade bloc’s and the world becoming not a unipolar world, but a bipolar world. And that may happen, I can’t say that it won’t. But a lot of the players in this new team, not us, you know, there’s sort of Team America and its friends. And then there’s the other team. These are also the strongman nations for the most parts, right, that you’ve mentioned. Right. And one of the questions, I think that’s fair to ask is, is like, how long can you ask, can you anticipate a confederation like that, where these aren’t natural allies? These are companies that countries that have a history of, sort of, you know, breaking alliances, maybe regime change where you You made a promise with one strong man, but next year, there’s another strong man has got an entirely different agenda. Do you question the solidarity of this sort of potential new block?

General Wesley Clark 48:42
Yeah, sure. It’s not a solid block at all. It’s gentle. It’s a grouping of convenience. That’s all and it’s a grouping of convenience by the top. At the bottom. Most of the people in these countries wishes they could be with the United States, right. And their students come to school here or in Western Europe. They go to they go to England to learn finance and accounting, they come back to South Africa. And what do they see? They see South Africa sort of we and we we’re not going to condemn Ukraine’s the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. They’re, they’re not but but I was just in school in Britain. And they said these horrible things were happening. So this is on a lion. Is it not Alliance? It’s a collection of convenience, with a limited lifetime, in my view. And there’s one other thing Adam, you know, when you look at these countries, they’re all dependent on capital and technology. And Lord Jess, from the north, the south is not independently sustaining itself at this point. It is a global south but it is connected to the north by finance, not only by the dollar, but by the real investments, the loans, the banking systems. So that are in place. So you talk about D dollarization. Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a huge threat. And it’s maybe moved 1%, the needle has moved maybe one or 2% thus far.

Adam Taggart 50:17
Okay, so it’s, again, it’s not something that you’re lying awake at night saying is going to, you know, become a real threat in terms of the world’s potential desire to

General Wesley Clark 50:29
lying awake at night, thinking about because I don’t want it to go even one or 2% when the president the United States travels to the golfer, or the Vice President travels to Africa, we want them warmly welcomed and recognized for the leadership and the capacity of the United States to affect positive change in the world. That’s what we want. So yeah, I worry about the D dollarization. But not from an investment standpoint.

Adam Taggart 51:02
Okay. Okay. Well, look, we talked about a whole bunch of of issues. We spent a big time here talking about Ukraine. Just very quickly, are there any other big ones that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe in terms of the things that keep you up at night,

General Wesley Clark 51:16
you know, the Iranians are going to get a nuclear weapon, and Israel is going to have to decide what it wants to do. 10 years ago, when Bibi was looking for the United States to do something, he says cancer, won’t you attack Iran forests and take out their nuclear sites and the United States basically, poured cold water all over that ideal. And, and so then when we got rid of the joint comprehensive program of action, this Iranian nuclear pledge that they weren’t going to get a nuclear weapon. And during the Trump administration, then the Iranians were retaliated. They moved up and up and up and up, and they’re very close to having what they need for nuclear weapon. They’ve got a strategic alignment with Russia, Israel’s still dependent on Russia to maintain access to strike Iranian assets in Syria. And so this is an area of strategic uncertainty. Will Israel remain dependent on Russia? Will or wrong take a further step to nuclearization? How much is Russia going to value its association with Israel, which, of course, affects us, because Israel doesn’t help Ukraine, right, versus helping Iran. And then there’s the Russian Chinese competition. China has just entered this now, building this bridge back between Iran and Saudi Arabia, what that’s going to amount to probably not as much as we think it’s a worrisome sign in the West should also worry about Vladimir Putin. So the Middle East remains a volatile place with lots of uncertainty about what the outcome is going to be. The United States is an ally of Israel, we’re going to assure the success of Israel, its survival as a nation. And just like the Israelis are very interested in the United States and that policy, we’re very interested in Israel’s policy. And we hope that they’ll remain a democracy and not slide into the sort of one man rule system that so many other countries have slipped into, into,

Adam Taggart 53:40
I hate to ask this question, but I mean, if a ran indeed creates a nuclear weapon. Is that something that Israel can stand? I mean, I’m not the expert you are. But to me, it seems that history has shown whenever they feel they need to do whatever it takes to try to sabotage, you know, Iran’s attempts to do that. So if Iran actually succeeds, is that something Israel can find some sort of way to coexist with them? Or is that is that aligned too far for them?

General Wesley Clark 54:13
I think Israel will have to find a way to coexist with them because I don’t believe that Israel can, no matter what, no matter the ABM systems as deployed, they are and don’t, no matter what, I don’t think Israel is going to invite a nuclear war that threatens its own survival. I think somehow there’ll be some kind of amelioration in these relationships. It may be that it’s not brokered by the United States. It may be brokered some other way. Maybe MBS is going to broker this. I don’t know. But, but it’s going to be a very tough call. Bibi Netanyahu has never been known as a guy who’s eager to throw a fist. He’s a guy who talks tough and has asks for more time. And in this case, some powerful forces are acting on him. And I was in Israel in 2007. I was asked then on Israeli television, should we attack Iran and take out their nuclear systems? Well, if there was a time to attack, that would have been a lot easier than than it is today. And so these are difficult, really difficult questions. And I have to believe that there’s a way through this. The real key to America’s future is not abroad. However, the real key is at home. Our system, it’s Americans, understanding what their system is accepting the divergence of opinions, working together for the best outcomes, stopping some of the hyper partisanship, but recognizing that it’s a good thing to have two parties. two party system is a good thing. Differences of opinion are important. But we believe in voter sovereignty. And ultimately, if the education works, if the Fourth Estate works, if people like, you and your programs work and propagate, and people see the facts and study them, you have to believe that this system is going to work. It’s a messy system. But mankind’s never found a better. Well, let me

Adam Taggart 56:28
ask you this, what can we and those watching this video right now? What can we as conscientious and informed citizens do to help improve our national Destiny here?

General Wesley Clark 56:43
Well, I think first of all, I think, go to the political system, and whatever partisan ideas you have, or whatever party you’re supporting, tell them to work together, come up with a solution. Don’t just think that, that you can advance your party’s interest by showing that government doesn’t work. The national government does work, it should work, and it must work. And so that’s the first thing is the political system. There are groups like they’re problem solvers Caucus in the House that are work really working really hard on this. The big thing though, is to vote. That’s, that’s the most fundamental thing is that, and you know, even in hotly contested elections, 40% of Americans who could vote don’t. And some of these people, or maybe the very people you’re watching, it’s like, Oh God, I’m just gonna be on vacation, or, you know, my wife sick, or I forgot I had an important business meeting, I was gonna vote by absentee ballot, but I forgot, you know, there are people, educated people who don’t vote. And then there’s a lot of people who think it won’t make any difference. So it does make it. But also, there are a number of not for profit organizations that are out there trying to promote a more civil dialogue, better working across party lines. One of them is mine, I have something called renew America together, we have a website. And I’d love support from people who are viewing this. We bring in cohorts of people every year, that go through communications, training, and they say they work with diverse groups, people they’d never met before. They do it virtually, they learn the issues, they learn different to respect other people’s opinions. They learn how to communicate, cross partisan lines, cross ethnic lines, and so forth. And I’d love to have support from this or this network of people for this is renew America And you can contribute, it’s a 501, C three, you can also nominate some of your good people. We have a lot of mid level people and even some top level people there, the former mayor of Phoenix is one of our participants in this people, we’ve saved marriages, built legislation save through this kind of work together as well, as I think, you know, really, American democracy is really about American culture. You’ll always find ambitious, talented people who want to be at the top. And there’s a bunch of men politics, at least 75 of the 100 senators believe they should be president. And many of them could be great presidents if they were given the opportunity. But the real work of the democracy is done locally. It’s people’s attitudes. It’s on whether they have understanding for other people’s views, whether they respect each other as across ethnic lines and racial lines and so forth. And and we’ve been lucky in America, we’ve really we’ve resisted every wave of immigrants, but somehow we’ve assimilated them. And mostly we without violence, we’ve still got racial issues. There’s still people who don’t like various ethnic groups in this country, you’ll still see some of it. Apparently, some in Oklahoma just broke into the news in the last couple of days, but these people are passing from the scene. So we need to assure that we’re moving forward with America as a diverse, very energetic culture. That’s the way to strengthen America. But come on to my program, my group, renew America And we’d love to have you there.

Adam Taggart 1:00:38
All right, well, look, that’s a phenomenal message, you know, in, you’ve seen more of the arc of this in your lifetime than I have. But Americans used to be much more civically engaged in general, and certainly in the new digital era, we become so digitally connected, but we’ve become so disconnected in the real world that, you know, there’s a compelling sort of message behind what you’re saying, which is luck, you know, if if this success factor that’s going to help repair and strengthen, you know, the American political system, and American culture is more of a coming together, more of a willingness to reach across the aisle and find common ground. We have to embody that ourselves as a society and then demand that as such as our elected leaders. So I think that sort of called a responsibility, civic responsibility that you’re giving here. Very, very important one, General Clark, when we edit this, I will put up the URL to renew America So folks know exactly where to go. Is there anywhere else that people who are really, really appreciated, this conversation would like to follow you and your work a little more closely can go. Besides that URL,

General Wesley Clark 1:01:51
I’m on my come to that URL, and we post on the URL, my speeches, writings, op eds, and so forth. But, you know, I’ve been in a Republican administration, I’ve worked closely with Democrats, I ran for office as a Democrat. You’re right. I’ve seen a lot of arc of history, you know, people my age, we’ve been alive for like, 25% of the lifetime of America. So we’ve, if you’re a person paying attention, you’ve seen this common goal. And that’s why I have so much confidence in this country. President Lincoln said, we’ll never destroy it. No one will ever destroy America unless we destroy ourselves. And I think that’s exactly right. China, will respect America, when we work together, China will be in awe. Russia will discover that the fighting power of free people, and their determination is more powerful than what they can overcome. And all the fence sitters on the outside will look at this and say, Well, we thought the American era was over, I guess we were wrong. And a new wave of leaders will emerge in these countries who have a greater appreciation for democracy and a greater respect for the legacy of a miracle.

Adam Taggart 1:03:12
Well, thank you very much, General Clark. It’s a great ending message. Really appreciate all the time you’ve given us here. Thank you so much. And I really look forward to anytime that you have anything important to say about all the issues we talked about, or any new ones that crop up. You’re very welcome to come back on this channel. Again. I really thank you for your time.

General Wesley Clark 1:03:31
Thank you very much, Adam. Thank you.

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