“Seven countries in five years”

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Wesley Clark’s new memoir casts more light on the Bush administration’s secret strategies for regime change in Iran and elsewhere.

In “A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country,” published by Palgrave Macmillan last month, the former four-star general recalls two visits to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. On the first visit, less than two weeks after Sept. 11, he writes, a “senior general” told him, “We’re going to attack Iraq. The decision has basically been made.”

Six weeks later, Clark returned to Washington to see the same general and inquired whether the plan to strike Iraq was still under consideration. The general’s response was stunning:  “‘Oh, it’s worse than that,’ he said, holding up a memo on his desk. ‘Here’s the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We’re going to take out seven countries in five years.’ And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.”

While Clark doesn’t name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Indeed, he has described this same conversation on a few occasions over the past year, including in a speech at the University of Alabama in October 2006, in an appearance on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” broadcast last March, and most recently in an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” On “Democracy Now” he spoke about the meetings and the memo in slightly greater detail, saying that he had made the first Pentagon visit “on or about Sept. 20.”

…During the Blitzer interview, Clark backed off slightly, conceding that the memo “wasn’t [necessarily] a plan. Maybe it was a think piece. Maybe it was a sort of notional concept, but what it was, was the kind of indication of dialogue around this town in official circles

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