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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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Thursday, August 07, 2003


Andrew Sullivan gets Dean wrong

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, August 07, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Andrew Sullivan is "trying really hard to like Howard Dean."

But in his essay a few days ago, he completely mischaracterizes Dean's position on postwar Iraq:

... in an election in which terrorism and national security will be central issues, a candidate who would seem to undermine America's credibility in the reconstruction of Iraq would also have a huge amount of persuasion to do. For even if you disagreed with the war, abandoning Iraq now would be a catastrophe fom which American foreign policy would barely recover. Up against that, a message of tax hikes and gay equality, however justified on the merits, would scarcely be credible.

Sullivan needs to be (politely) reminded of what Dean said on the Today show:

LAUER: And we've got a--a shaky piece, and we've got Americans being attacked almost on a daily basis. If you were president today, Governor Dean, what would you do?

Gov. DEAN: What I would do is do what we should be doing in Afghanistan, as well. I supported the invasion of Afghanistan, because I thought national security was at risk. But I think the president's job at trying to keep the peace in both places has been pretty dismal. We're making
deals with war lords in Afghanistan, some of whom were on the other side when we first went in there. And I don't think that's the way to bring Ira--democracy to Afghanistan, nor do I think what we're doing is the way to bring democracy to Iraq. I want to internationalize both occupations. I want to bring NATO troops, I want to bring Muslim troops from the United Nations, preferably Arabic speaking in Iraq, and bring home some of our reserves. We're not going to be able to leave Iraq for many, many years, contrary to what the president told us.

and he echoed those comments on Larry King Live:

KING: So if you were president tomorrow, that's what you would be doing?

DEAN: Yes, I would begin the process of going to the United Nations, getting a resolution to bring foreign troops in, preferably including some troops from Arabic-speaking nations and some Muslim troops so that we can make this truly an international occupation. I do believe it's a worthwhile goal to rebuild Iraq into a democracy. I think that's unlikely to happen with this president, given his track record in Afghanistan.

I support the president's invasion of Afghanistan because I thought that was an issue for national security of the United States. But I think what s happened since then has been a very bad harbinger of what the president may do in Iraq.

We're under -- we have probably a fifth of the number of troops that we need to have in Iraq -- excuse me, in Afghanistan. The president is making deals with the warlords, who are certainly not Democratic forces. i think things look bad in Afghanistan. We need the U.N. and NATO to come in and help us there. And the problem is the president has managed to alienate and humiliate all the very countries that we now need to help us maintain the peace both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Sullivan is clearly mistaken about where Dean stands, but in one sense he is absolutely right, that we need a leader would not undermine America's credibility. Given that the case for war was built on deception, whereas Dean has been (by Sullivan's own admission) forthright about his views and his positions, it's clear that Dean fits Sullivan's own requirements far better than Bush.


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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.