General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe, is currently the chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark and Associates, a strategic consulting firm, and co-chairman of Growth Energy. NCSL's Mark Wolf spoke with him after his keynote address on energy and security at NCSL's Legislative Summit. State Legislatures: How do you define leadership?
Wesley Clark: A good leader always has a plan. He's trying to accomplish something. What's common to all leaders is the ability to plan ahead and the ability to mobilize people, to inspire them to get the job done. Eisenhower gave us a definition when he came back from World War II that all cadets had to memorize. It's always been my definition of what leadership is. He said, "Leadership is the ability to get the other fellow to want to do what you want him to do." That's leadership.
What are the most critical issues facing the United States in terms of energy and energy security?
Energy security is about more than just energy independence. It's about supply and price. The whole world is hungry for American resources: gas, diesel, biofuels. All of it can be exported to an energy-starving world. So supply is No. 1.
And price is No. 2. If we can put enough supply out there, we'll control the price, and controlling the price keeps those resources here at home.
What do you mean when you say that energy security is the saving strategy for the United States?
Energy is going to give us a chance to jumpstart the economy again. If you look across America, people are struggling. We can restart America's economic growth if we'll focus on the extraction of liquid hydrocarbons and biofuels, which will help us become energy independent. Then we can use those resources to deal with all our other problems: infrastructure and education, manufacturing and space, to rebuild our economy.
What would you like state lawmakers to be thinking about when they are shaping state energy policy?
I'd like to see them expedite the permitting process so we can produce more hydrocarbons. I'd like to see them tightening the environmental restraints so we do it more responsibly. And I'd like to see them advocating in Washington for the complete package: more hydrocarbons and greater environmental protection, including a carbon tax, started small. We need to plant the flag so America has a future that's less carbon-intensive.
Where are we now compared to when you started writing about energy policy in 1973?