Gen. Clark: Energy policy key to U.S. economic strength, global power

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 83 views 

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and one-time Democratic Presidential candidate, has written a new book that suggests the key to America’s best opportunity to lead the free world involves energy independence to strengthen the economy.

In an interview on Talk Business & Politics, Arkansas native Clark said his book, “Don’t Wait For The Next War,” is not a prelude to another Presidential run, but an effort to instigate a new national dialogue.

“It’s not in my future,” Clark said of his Presidential interest. “You can’t communicate a serious idea in American politics today. I tried it when I ran for office 10 years, 12 years ago.”

He cited a speech he gave during his 2003-04 Presidential campaign that outlined a 25-year and 100-year vision for America. After receiving little to no press coverage, Clark asked a national political reporter why.

“General, your problem is not a 25-year vision, your problem is next week,” the reporter replied.

“There’s a real ‘short term-ism’ in America. It’s a lot about the horse race in politics and that’s important, but I want to get ideas out there because this country is facing some critical, critical junctures,” Clark said.

Citing geopolitical challenges in China, Russia, and the Middle East, Clark said America’s best hope is to build economic strength through energy independence – that’s the premise of his book. He’s been an investor and advisor to a number of energy-related businesses, which translates to the retired general effortlessly rattling off a number of energy statistics.

“It’s the single most important concept in America’s future right now. We have a chance with the shale boom revolution to stop importing foreign oil,” he said.

But with rancor in Congress and the lack of political will to build the Keystone XL pipeline as an example, Clark was asked how to bridge the gulf between energy enthusiasts who adopt an “everything goes” approach and environmentalists who argue for alternative fuels and a shift away from carbon-related energy.

Clark says he’s in search of a political bargain.

“Isn’t politics the art of the compromise?… If everyone believes that his special hobby horse is more important than the good of the country as a whole, isn’t that the road for destruction?” he said.

Clark advocates for a carbon tax that could boost tax coffers for repairing highways and be an incentive to develop alternative fuels.

“You do have to work with the environmental movement. They have to understand that there is something bigger than the environment. There’s the future of America. If this country is not the leading country in the world, then all of our environmental dreams won’t make it anyway,” Clark said.