Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Dean's opposition to Iraq

Lately I've been trying to figure out how it is that Howard Dean opposed the war in Iraq, yet supported the war in Kosovo and Bosnia. I've come across a number explanations offered by him and by those who support him especially on Iraq, but I still can't figure it out.

Dean has stated (here, for instance) that he opposed the war because Iraq was not an imminent threat to the US. Now apart from the whole question of imminence (Bush didn't think the threat was imminent, either, and didn't argue it, contrary to many on the left), there's problem of threat -- or more properly, the lack thereof -- posed to the US in Kosovo and/or Bosnia. If we shouldn't have gone to war in Iraq because there was no imminent threat, why should we have gone to war in Kosovo & Bosnia?

Second, there's the multilateral issue. Dean often complains that the US didn't have the support of the UN in Iraq. But the UN didn't approve the actions in Kosovo or Bosnia either, yet Dean supports them! Ostensibly, that's because NATO was involved, meaning it was a multi-lateral effort. But so was Iraq! In fact, there were more nations involved in the war against Iraq than in the war in Kosovo!

So how is one to make sense of Dean's approach to war?

Then there's this: in this article from last March, Dean said the following: "Saddam must be disarmed, but with a multilateral force under the auspices of the United Nations. If the U.N. in the end chooses not to enforce its own resolutions, then the U.S. should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm, and if he doesn't, unilateral action is a regrettable, but unavoidable, choice."

One astute blogger commented as follows: "Dean's clarification to Salon seems eerily familiar. Let's delve into Dean's remarks to Salon closely: Iraq must be disarmed. The United Nations should get involved and its resolutions should be enforced. If the U.N. refuses to act, and Saddam Hussein refuses to disarm, the U.S. can and should force Iraqi disarmament through unilateral military action. Why does this position sound familiar? Because it's the exact same position taken by the Bush administration." (I'd recommend reading the entire post.)

So basically, I have no idea how to understand Dean on war, in Iraq or anywhere else.

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