I read about halfway through this article before I had to stop.
It seems to me that Raimondo is woefully uninformed about Dean's history: he also takes a stance vis US occupation of Iraq that I'm not sure I agree with.
I lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, next door to Vermont, for 6-odd years and indeed many of my friends come from the Green Mountain State. If Dean's conservative democrat pedigree was some kind of secret, it was a damn open secret to all of us: he fought against the left to balance the vermont budget; he passed civil unions only under severe pressure, and if I'm correct in the end I think he passed the buck to the VT superior court. He wasn't conservative like these nazis who call themselves republican conservatives, but he has NEVER been a total lefty.
Let me say that although I support Dean, I do so warily. I do not know if in the end I will vote for him.
As for Dean's comments regarding US occupation in Iraq, what does the writer propose we do other than bring our troops home immediately? Is there any doubt what will happen in that artificially-created country if a power vacuum is left? Between sanctions and war, we have made the place a shambles: there is the potential for mass starvation, civil and religious war, and all sorts of not very nice things. The writer conveniently leaves out the fact that Dean wants to make amends with the UN and the international community. Dean's stance quite frankly is not quite out of step with my own, and I stood fervently and actively against the war: we broke it, we bought it. For our own national security, we cannot leave Iraq until the country has stabilized. Whether that is to an indigenous government or to a temporary United Nations/ NATO admisnitration, I cannot say.
"Bringing democracy to Iraq is not a two-year proposition. Having elections alone doesn't guarantee democracy. You've got to have institutions and the rule of law, and in a country that hasn't had that in 3,000 years, it's unlikely to suddenly develop by having elections and getting the heck out."
Of these statements, only the 3,000 years reference strikes me as tangibly false. Hussein's dictatorship was a system of laws and institutions. Hussein's law may have been unfair, but it seems to me it would have been impossible for Iraq to have survived 12 years of sanctions if there was not some rule of law holding the thing up. Raimondo mixes up the words and those who say them. Condoleeza Rice and William Kristol are evil people who cynically throw words like freedom, liberty,
around, but that doesn't make it any less true that the US destroyed the Iraqis' entire system of government and is responsible for providing services to Iraqis until such time as the Iraqis can provide for themselves or the international community takes over (hopefully they will withhold all aid until bush is ejected from the Oval Office). Were the US to unilaterally and unconditionally pull out of Iraq tomorrow, leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, the world community would quite rightly HOWL that the US was abandoning the very people they had utterly destroyed. We would have even more blood on our hands than we do now.
Raimondo also doesn't seem to understand that the actions of one adminisitration can reverberate into the successor's administration and the successor after that. We feel the effects of the Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action everyday, but often forget that these policies and programs were only established in the late 1960s. Bush's war will be an issue for the next 4 or 5 legitimate presidents: just because Bush goes away doesn't mean our recognizing the need to deal pragmatically with the consequences. While I am taken aback by Mr. Dean's argument that "Americans should have the final say" in Iraqi politics, I cannot quarrel with his recognition that "we are stuck there."
In fact, Raimondo doesn't seem to recognize that we ARE stuck there, making the preposterous claim that "although it wasn't before, Iraq is somehow mysteriously tied in with our "national security.""
Oh no? Let's see: we have a failed state (yes due to our economic and military intervention, but a failed state nonetheless) with a power vacuum bordered by neighbors who really DO have ties to terrorism: Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the state was largely our doing, and the local population are resentful of us. The failed state has the second largest oil deposit in the region. One of the neighbors, who shall not be named in 28 pages, has such a chokehold on the largest supply that we let them get away with flying planes into the world trade center in New York. And Raimondo says that leaving now, unconditionally, would be better?
Hogwash. The repercussions are even more horrific than the prospect of occupation.
To "stay the course" as Der Bush likes to say is no option: Mr. Dean, like other democrats, has explicitly stated the need to mend fences with the United Nations and our allies in Europe in fixing what we broke. The thievery the neocons are getting away with is despicable: that does not negate the fact that leaving Iraq now would be a crime as well.