December 21, 2003


The Democrats' Own Quagmire: Dean says he thought the war was a terrible blunder, but now that we're there, we should stay and see it through. This makes no sense (Fareed Zakaria, Dec. 29/Jan. 5, Newsweek)

[I]f the situation in Iraq is scary, if instability is spreading across the country, America will be more fully and deeply engaged in a war with some very nasty enemies. In such a situation, will the average American—in, say, Pennsylvania or Michigan, states Democrats must win—look to Howard Dean to get them through the dangerous times, or to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell?

There is, of course, the possibility that things in Iraq will not look so bad six months from now. It's possible that the American armed forces will get better at handling the insurgency, that the rare spectacle of Middle Eastern caucuses and elections will be underway, that Iraqis will be having a spirited debate about what an Islamic democracy means and that Iraq will be seeing the stirring of genuine free-market activity. And what will be the Democratic Party's response to this reality? Will it still be explaining that the war was a "catastrophic mistake"?

Mr. Dean, meet your petard.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 21, 2003 1:19 PM

Time Magazine Awards "Man of the Year" Award to the "US Soldier". When we you have lost (even) Time, you have lost the "quagmire".

Posted by: MG at December 21, 2003 3:10 PM

I am for Dean because he was against the war and is not afraid to say so.

Since the U.S. is now bogged down as occupier in Iraq, the only honorable thing to do is try to improve the situation before leaving. This is what Dean advocates.

Regardless of what happens in Iraq, I stick with Dean because he does not change his position every time events on the ground change.

He's a man of principle. He shoots his mouth off occasionally and this is his biggest problem. But I would rather promote a lively character like him than someone as cautious as John Kerry.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at December 21, 2003 5:42 PM

Mr. Siegel:

Is it good to stick to your principles when they prove wrong? Does not the liberation of Iraq and the resulting acquiesence of Libya give you some pause?

Posted by: oj at December 21, 2003 5:48 PM

I entirely disagree with Zakaria here, since it seems to me that one can legitimately, like Dean and many others, have opposed the war and yet, making the best of a "bad situation," realized that it's now irresponsible for the US to quit while the situation is not yet stable, while the job is not yet done. (Whatever "stable" or "done" might mean....)

Well, good for them (and I mean that).

However, the question I would put to Dean, and the others, is (nothing new here) why they opposed a war for America's self defense in the first place. Why they opposed a regime that was clearly a lynchpin in the terror campaign. Why they felt it was preferable to wait until Saddam became, in their view, a sufficiently imminent threat for their tastes. Why they felt that essentially continuing to pursue a policy that for various reasons turned out to be an unmitigated disaster was the most prudent course.

Now, clearly they would answer that they don't see it that way, they wouldn't accept the questions as phrased, they didn't believe that Saddam was a threat, they believed that Bush acted prematurely and presumptuously and unilaterally and alienating and arrogant, etc., etc.

It therefore, all boils down to a dazzling lack of judgment and leadership; which as far as I'm concerned consigns Dean to the status of first class nincompoop (principled, perhaps, but inescapably, nincompoop).

He's not alone, and that's a problem. But for better or worse the free world has to be able to live with that, and consider it, paradoxically, one of its strengths.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 22, 2003 2:24 AM

Mr. Siegel:

I understand your position and it is respectable. But what do you make of Dean's saying he would have gone to war with Iraq if the UN had given us "permission." Along with all the other problems with that statement, what about these two.

First, how can UN permission change a preventative war taken against a country without WMD and which is not an imminent threat into a just war? Can the UN just pick out any country and give the rest of the world permission to attack or was Iraq not just any country?

Second, how does UN permission come about without the US pushing for a security council vote? Is Dean saying he would have done everything the Bush administration did (hard to believe if he thinks that the administration "lied") and then would have just walked away if France wasn't convinced?

Posted by: David Cohen at December 22, 2003 7:53 AM