Sunday, February 26, 2006

Crooks and Liars Salutes Howard Dean

Glenn Greenwald started a little blog swarm with his post yesterday, "Whose judgment on the Iraq War is entitled to respect?"

Here is the section about Howard Dean:

"when one reviews the pre-war arguments made by Howard Dean as to why the war was ill-advised, it is glaringly self-evident just how right he was -- at a time when few others recognized it -- about virtually everything. Here are excerpts from a speech Dean gave on February 17, 2003 -- just over a month before we invaded -- at Drake University which reflects the prescient warnings he was making back then:

"I believe it is my patriotic duty to urge a different path to protecting America's security: To focus on al Qaeda, which is an imminent threat, and to use our resources to improve and strengthen the security and safety of our home front and our people while working with the other nations of the world to contain Saddam Hussein. . . .

Had I been a member of the Senate, I would have voted against the resolution that authorized the President to use unilateral force against Iraq - unlike others in that body now seeking the presidency.

That the President was given open-ended authority to go to war in Iraq resulted from a failure of too many in my party in Washington who were worried about political positioning for the presidential election.

The stakes are so high, this is not a time for holding back or sheepishly going along with the herd.

To this day, the President has not made a case that war against Iraq, now, is necessary to defend American territory, our citizens, our allies, or our essential interests.

The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled.

I, for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.

As a doctor, I was trained to treat illness, and to examine a variety of options before deciding which to prescribe. I worried about side effects and took the time to see what else might work before proceeding to high-risk measures. . . .

We have been told over and over again what the risks will be if we do not go to war.

We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.
If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration's assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.

I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic.

I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.

It is possible, however, that events could go differently, . . . .

Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.

Anti-American feelings will surely be inflamed among the misguided who choose to see an assault on Iraq as an attack on Islam, or as a means of controlling Iraqi oil.

And last week's tape by Osama bin Laden tells us that our enemies will seek relentlessly to transform a war into a tool for inspiring and recruiting more terrorists.

There are other risks. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."

"Using the standard rhetorical tactic of Bush followers, Dean was caricatured and falsely accused by Republicans, some Democrats, and an easily manipulated media as being some sort of radical pacifist subversive who should be mocked rather than listened to. That was achieved only by distorting his views. As Dean made repeatedly clear, he favors fighting wars which are truly necessary to defend the United States from imminent threats, but he believed there was no persuasive evidence demonstrating that Saddam constituted a threat which justified the war.

And those who claim that there was nobody before the war who doubted that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs which compelled our invasion ought to read this passage from Dean's speech:

"Now, I am not among those who say that America should never use its armed forces unilaterally. In some circumstances, we have no choice. In Iraq, I would be prepared to go ahead without further Security Council backing if it were clear the threat posed to us by Saddam Hussein was imminent, and could neither be contained nor deterred.

However, that case has not been made, and I believe we should continue the hard work of diplomacy and inspection. . . .

Secretary Powell's recent presentation at the UN showed the extent to which we have Iraq under an audio and visual microscope. Given that, I was impressed not by the vastness of evidence presented by the Secretary, but rather by its sketchiness. "

"Can anyone dispute that Dean was right about virtually every prediction and claim he made, every warning that he issued about why invading Iraq was ill-advised and counter-productive? Compare this outright prescience from Dean to the war supporters’ declarations of cakewalks, predictions of glorious victory celebrations, promises that the war would pay for itself, Purple Finger celebrations where they insisted that democracy was upon us, errors regarding the number of troops needed, inexcusable failure to anticipate or plan the insurgency, and shrill fear-mongering about Saddam’s non-existent weapons."
Greenwald followed this post with another one on "The troop withdraw debate":

"The post I wrote earlier today regarding Howard Dean’s accurate pre-war warnings about Iraq was followed by an interesting debate in the comments section about whether we ought to withdraw our troops immediately. Some argued that there is something corrupt about Howard Dean’s position because, having opposed the war in the first place, he is opposed to immediate withdrawal now. The argument was made that anyone who opposed invading Iraq in the first place must now favor immediate troop withdraw. Unfortunately, the issue isn’t that simple and the moral issues aren’t nearly that clear.

Regardless of whether one favored the invasion, the reality is that we invaded that country, removed its government, and smashed the (corrupt and murderous) regime which ruled the country with an iron fist, maintaining relative social stability. There is chaos in Iraq because we created the chaos. It is incredibly irresponsible to just casually demand that, having done all of that, we simply leave because we changed our mind about the war and just don’t want to stay any more.

We have an ethical responsibility to do what we can -- if there is anything -- to help Iraq regain some semblance of stability and peace. We have no right to simply leave the country engulfed by a civil war and drowning in anarchy because we grew tired of our little project or changed our minds about its morality. If we are achieving any good at all with our military occupation – or if we can achieve any good – we have the obligation to do so. The sovereign elected government of that country does not want us to leave because they fear that our troop withdraw will severely worsen the instability and increase the violence in their country..."

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