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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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Tuesday, April 29, 2003


What exactly did Dr. Dean mean?

posted by Matt Singer at Tuesday, April 29, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
In comments, I keep seeing questions like, "Well, what did Dean mean when he said that the U.S. 'won't always have the strongest military.'" Frankly, I think it is pretty clear. He said that the U.S. won't always have the strongest gosh-darn military. Is that really unclear? And do some Americans really believe that after World War II, God granted America with an eternal gift of a military that would always be strongest?

Cause that's pretty much what you'd have to believe to disagree with this statement.

But, that explanation doesn't seem to satisfy, so here's my full explanation.

Dean is recognizing that within the world, power revolutions occur. Powerful dynasties are destroyed. Empires are pulled apart. Colonies rebel. Regional powers become regional hegemons, play strategically, and soon are close to ruling the world. But nothing lasts forever, not even cold November Rain.

And what these comments imply, to me, anyways is that Dean is pointing out that if the U.S. military is not so superior to all other forces in the world that it renders them needless that diplomacy will be necessary. And that recognizing that we rely on allies for bases, intelligence, and military support, it is important to see diplomacy as a key component of national defense. The sentence right before the one in question deals specifically with diplomacy.

And a lot of people seem to condemn Dean for perhaps suggesting that U.S. superiority could falter in the near future (by which, I mean, next 50 years). While I doubt the U.S. military will weaken, it is likely that China will strengthen very, very quickly. And keeping the peace with another world power on the stage will require more than military might. It will require a strong military, strong diplomacy, and a well thought-out foreign policy.

The best way to make sure that the U.S. comes out of the next century in good shape is to make sure we're ready for all contingencies. Denying likely ones, like Lehane wants to do, is foolhardy. Dean is being honest about foreign policy.

And, of course, there's the fact that no one with foreign policy credentials has attacked Dean for this statement. Lehane was probably a comm/poli sci major in college.


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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.