NATO: Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1)

Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000


Wesley Kanne Clark, Sr. (born December 23, 1944) is a retired general of the United States Army. Graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1966 at West Point, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science. He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000.

Clark joined the 2004 race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination as a candidate on September 17, 2003, but withdrew from the primary race on February 11, 2004, after winning the Oklahoma state primary, endorsing and campaigning for the eventual Democratic nominee, John Kerry. Clark currently leads a political action committee—"WesPAC"—which was formed after the 2004 primaries, and used it to support numerous Democratic Party candidates in the 2006 midterm elections. Clark was considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but, on September 15, 2007, endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton. After Clinton dropped out of the Presidential race, Clark endorsed the then-presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. Clark currently serves as the co-chairman of Growth Energy, an ethanol lobbying group and on the board of directors of BNK Petroleum. Since July 2012, he also acts as an honorary special advisor to Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta in economic and security matters.

Early life and education

Clark's paternal great-grandfather was a Belarusian Jew who immigrated to the United States in response to the Pale of Settlement andanti-Semitic violence from Russian pogroms. Clark's grandfather, Jacob Kanne, graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an ensign during World War I, although he was never assigned to a combat mission. Kanne, living in Chicago, became involved with ward politics in the 1920s as a prosecutor and served in local offices. He went on to serve as a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention that nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt as the party's presidential candidate (though his name does not appear on the published roll of convention delegates). His mother was Methodist, and was of Englishancestry.

Kanne came from the Kohen family line, and Clark's son has characterized Clark's parents' marriage, between his Methodist mother, Veneta (née Updegraff), and his Jewish father, Benjamin Jacob Kanne, as "about as multicultural as you could've gotten in 1944."

Clark was born Wesley Kanne in Chicago on December 23, 1944. His father Benjamin died on December 6, 1948, following which his mother then moved the family to Little Rock, Arkansas. This move was made for a variety of reasons, including escaping the greater cost of living in a large city such as Chicago, the support Veneta's family in Arkansas could provide, and her feeling of being an outsider to the remaining Kanne family as she did not share their religion. Once in Little Rock, Veneta married Viktor Clark, whom she met while working as a secretary for a local bank. Viktor raised Wesley as his son, and officially adopted him on Wesley's 16th birthday. Wesley's name was changed to Wesley Kanne Clark. Viktor Clark's name actually replaced that of Wesley's biological father on hisbirth certificate, something Wesley would later say that he wished they had not done. Veneta raised Wesley without telling him of his Jewish ancestry to protect him from the anti-Semitic activities of the Ku Klux Klan occurring in the South at the time. Although his mother was Methodist, Clark chose a Baptist church after moving to Little Rock and continued attending it throughout his childhood.

He graduated from Hall High School with a National Merit Scholarship, and helped take their swim team to the state championship, filling in for a sick teammate by swimming two legs of a relay. Clark has often repeated the anecdote that he decided he wanted to go to West Point after meeting a cadet with glasses who told Clark (who wore glasses as well) that one did not need perfect vision to attend West Point as Clark had thought. Clark applied, and was accepted on April 24, 1962.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Clark

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