doing the right thing. By sticking to his guns,
the leading Democratic presidential contender
again separates himself from the pack by correctly
stating the significance of the capture of Saddam
Iraqi insurgents are slowing making the their
presence felt in northern and central Iraq, outside
the 'original' Sunni triangle of resistance as
portrayed by U.S. occupation generals back stateside
at CENTCOM. Oil wells and refineries are repeatedly
sabotaged delaying the delivery of Iraqi oil to
domestic and international sources, causing horrendous
gas shortages (in the 2nd largest oil producing
nation) as well as further disabling an anemic
economy. More than a third of Iraqis are under
or unemployed amidst new jobs with the fledging
American-backed Iraqi army paying only $60 dollars
U.S. (not enough to feed a family). As a result,
half of recruits from the first graduating class
have quit in protest.
there is more money to be made in the burgeoning
his first major foreign policy address, Howard
Dean lays out the continued challenges the American
military will have to face, helping to create
a democracy in a land that has known only imperialism
(first from Europe, then the Baath Party). But,
beyond the praise that world leaders have given
Bush for Saddam's capture. The job of defending
the nation from terrorism has been placed on hold.
And even most conservatives concede, Saddam Hussein
had nothing to do with September 11th.
is on this fact Dean stakes his position on foreign
policy (not like a revisionist Richard Gephardt
or John Kerry who supported the war). Al Qaeda
is the true enemy. Therefore, America's defense
must be attuned to a terrorist threat based on
sound intelligence and agents on the field. Not
the mislabeling of state-inspired insurgents as
'terrorists,' not an ever-changing rational for
a mission without a clear exit strategy. Even
Karl Rove should realize the continued use of
'bait and switch' arguments with the American
people will not endear trust and goodwill, particularly
on the eve of an election year. Results will.
the Hussein capture a trophy for Bush agenda abroad,
the Bush administration has tried to spin Saddam's
capture as a referendum of the President's leadership.
In response, the ebbing Democratic candidates
(Lieberman, Kerry, and Gephardt) broke ranks with
the Democrat's pledge for friendly debate (not
to attack each other but Bush), sent salvos of
derision and condemnation on the "anti-war" Dean
machine, trying (again) to tie their foreign policy
agenda to President Bush's 'war on terror' campaign.
A cause they distanced themselves from just moments
before. However, in so doing, these contenders
violate the one true rule of electability that
makes Howard Dean seem so attractive, even to
debate of the President's right to launch pre-emptive
war against America's perceived enemies is the
one issue, along with the lackluster economy,
which will define the presidential race in 2004.
Flip-flopping positions makes the Bush rational
stronger in the eyes of independent and moderate
voters. As a result, the Democratic field has
split 'the Big Three' further as Dean, Clark,
and Gephardt gain momentum among primary voters
for not kowtowing to this brief respite in Bush
the biggest threat to Howard Dean may not be the
perceived weakness from the Republicans, but from
within the Democrats themselves. After the news
of Saddam's capture, fellow candidate Senator
Joseph Lieberman commented that 'if [Dean] had
his way, Saddam and his sons would still be in
power.' Quite a charge from the once morally 'revered'
statesman, known for taking the high road in politics,
now taking revenge on former Vice President Al
Gore (for his surprise endorsement of Dean).
he has become so eager to achieve the party's
nomination he has signaled a willingness to try
and demoralize the Dean candidacy (even after
he reiterated his pledge to support any eventual
for Democrats, if he succeeds, Lieberman will
only push the issue (about the status of Iraq)
in the President's favor, as remnants of Saddam's
regime are eventually found and brought to justice.
In order to win this debate with Lieberman and
Kerry, Howard Dean must emphasize that the Baath
Party are only marginal players in the Iraqi insurgency.
The numbers of disaffected Iraqis continues to
grow, not due to being 'enemies of democracy,'
but over the frustration of rampant crime, decaying
infrastructure, and pervasive unemployment.
the U.S.-led coalition can solve these issues,
then Iraq will truly be a success. However, staking
a presidency on such risky foreign policies detracts
from the original issues important to the American
people, such as health care, the economy, and
is asking those questions.
far, the Bush administration has shed few answers.
Posted: December 17, 2003