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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002


Top Democrats Back Bush on Waging Iraqi War: Hawkish consensus among possible presidential contenders could boost fortunes of Vermont Gov. Howard Dean,5869862).story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dpolitics%2Dnational

posted by Jerome at Wednesday, September 18, 2002 permalink View blog reactions

Since Bush's speech last week to the United Nations, Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.) have made clear they would back the use of force against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, while House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) has suggested he would, as well.

Sources close to former Vice President Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, say he will shortly endorse the prospect of military action. Even Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has consistently raised questions about a potential strike against Iraq, appears to be moving toward supporting force, sources close to him say.

This hawkish consensus could leave an opening for a so-called peace candidate in the developing Democratic race. At the moment, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who's openly exploring a presidential candidacy, appears the most likely to audition for that part. The little-known Dean has been more critical of possible military action than any other potential candidate.

That could help him gain a foothold in Iowa, site of the first caucus in January 2004 and traditionally a state where antiwar sentiments run high among Democratic activists. But, on both substantive and political grounds, most leading Democrats appear to have concluded that opposing action against Hussein could be an insurmountable burden to carry into a 2004 race. "There is an opportunity in the primaries for an antiwar candidate, particularly in Iowa, but that disqualifies you for the general election," said a top aide to one of the likely 2004 candidates....

Dean, in an interview Tuesday, said flatly that he did not believe Bush has made "the case that we need to invade Iraq." Dean said he could support military action, even outside the U.N., if Bush could "establish with reasonable credibility" that Hussein had the capacity to deliver either nuclear or biological weapons against the United States and its allies. But he said that the president, to this point, hadn't passed that test.

"He is asking American families to sacrifice their children, and he's got to have something more than, 'This is an evil man,' " Dean said. "There are a lot of evil people running countries around the world; we don't bomb every one of them. We don't ask our children to die over every one of them." Such dissenting views could find an audience in the Democratic primary; polls have consistently found rank-and-file Democrats more skeptical of invading Iraq than other Americans.

There are many reasons to be unsure about the success of this invasion. It could be a successful precision attack, but it could also become a debacle of massive civilian killing that is seen in hindsight as reckless, shortsighted, and politically motivated-- like invading countries around election time when the Dow is breaking below 8,000.

With majority of Democratic voters are against invading Iraq. If Dean goes along with the other Democrats, there will be a vacuum of disconnect with the majority of Democratic voters-- especially if it does turn out to be a quagmire. On the otherhand, if only Dean remains aligned alongside the Democratic international ideals of peaceful defense over unprincipled aggression, he stands to become the strong alternative to the Bush & the DC candidates.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.