Saturday, November 19, 2005

Kerry and Dean Held Similar Views on Iraq

Kerry and Dean Held Similar Views on Iraq

In recent posts, including two earlier today, I pointed discussed John Kerry’s position on the war as stated prior to the war. Kerry advised against going to war and believed that Bush misused the authority granted to him.

Critics of Kerry in the anti-war movement, in actions which undermine the anti-war position by providing credibility to the attacks of Bush and Cheney, take Kerry’s warnings about the danger of WMD under Saddam out of context to claim he supported the war. Many people have believed, partially due to misuse of intelligence by the Bush Administration, that Saddam had WMD, but this did not mean they would have gone to war when Saddam could have been contained.

There is a strange double standard in the attacks on Kerry considering how Howard Dean gave the same opinion. In Salon on February 20, 2003 Jack Tapper wrote:

He gets a deluge of phone calls from reporters asking him to clarify his position. Which is — “as I’ve said about eight times today,” he says, annoyed — that Saddam must be disarmed, but with a multilateral force under the auspices of the United Nations. If the U.N. in the end chooses not to enforce its own resolutions, then the U.S. should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm, and if he doesn’t, unilateral action is a regrettable, but unavoidable, choice.

Adam Nagourney described Dean in New York Times on Feburary 10, 2003 noting, “An Antiwar Democrat Leaves Room To Wiggle.”

“Action with the U.N. is where we should be aiming at right now,'’ Dr. Dean said. ‘’We should be going back and set a timeline with the U.N. for absolute disarmament. I’ve chosen 60 days. And then there would be military action.'’

And Dr. Dean said that he supported the central goal of many of the supporters of action against Iraq. ‘’Look, Saddam has to be disarmed,'’ he said in the interview. ‘’Everybody has to understand that.'’

In the same article, Nagourney noted that Kerry had “urged the president not to rush into war.”

In the debate in Des Moines, Iowa on January 4, 2004 Dean showed Iowa voters that he was not 100% opposed to removing Saddam:

QUESTION: What about something that Senator Lieberman also said, and that was that, if we had followed your ideas toward Saddam Hussein, he’d still be in power?

DEAN: I actually don’t believe that, because I think, given the time that’s elapsed, we could have done the proper thing, which George Bush’s father did, and put together a coalition to go after somebody who was a regional threat but not a threat to the United States.

Ultimately John Kerry won the Iowa primary with most opponents of the war supporting him. This was largely because the attacks on Kerry claiming he was the pro-war candidate were disputed by the media in Iowa and in the debate. The Des Moines Register looked at their positions on March 2, 2003:

Anti-war Democrats have cheered presidential candidate Howard Dean, but some campaign observers say the former Vermont governor’s position on Iraq isn’t that different from the rivals he criticizes. The Vermont governor, for example, would support unilateral action against Iraq under certain conditions.


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