January 14, 2004

PAST STATEMENTS COME BACK TO HAUNT HOWARD DEAN AGAIN, as this letter urging President Clinton to take unilateral military action in Bosnia appears in USA Today:

We must give, and have given, this policy with our allies and with the United Nations every opportunity to work. It is evident, however, that the cost in human lives in allowing this policy to continue is too great. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for the United States, we are now in a position of ignoring, as many did in the 1940s, one of the worst crimes committed in history. If we ignore these behaviors, no matter where they occur, our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. As the Catholic Church and others lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out, so will the United States lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action.

Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action.

Hmm. Sounds a lot like the situation in Iraq under Saddam, except that with Iraq (1) the human rights abuses were worse; (2) the failures of the UN and the international community were greater; and, oh yeah, (3) there was a Republican president. I wonder which one of these factors made the difference in terms of Dean’s positions?

Meanwhile, this article fact-checks another Dean assertion:

The word “imminent” is key to differentiating Dean’s policy from the president’s decision to invade Iraq, said Jeremy Ben-Ami, policy director for Dean’s campaign.

Bush “sold the war on the basis of an imminent threat to U.S. security, and that has now been shown to be false,” Ben-Ami said. Since the threat from Iraq was not imminent, the administration could not properly justify the war, he said.

However, when Bush laid out the case for the war in his 2003 State of the Union address, he said the United States should not wait for an imminent threat.

“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent,” Bush said. “Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein … is not an option.”

“It’s imminent!” vs. “We can’t wait until it’s imminent.” Looks like a difference to me.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian writes that Dean’s unilateralism would actually have made him more likely to support Dean — if it hadn’t come so late.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon says that the Internet will kill Dean just as it built him up:

Because this is Mr. Tell-It-Like It-Is and he isn’t. And he can’t. There’s too much information already on record. The Internet will be his great undoing. This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Wait until summer. The same is true for Clark. In a sea of a million fact-checkers, his idiot vacillations seem all the more ridiculous. If he gets nominated, it is going to be a donnybrook.

Roger hopes for an Edwards nomination, which seems very unlikely to me. I’m not sure why — I keep watching him and saying “why isn’t he doing better?” So do a lot of my hardcore Democratic friends. Maybe he’ll pull of a surprise?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner thinks Edwards is underrated.

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