Tags: Challenging | the | War

Challenging the War

Friday, 24 December 2004 12:00 AM

Howard Dean wasn't ready for prime time. He wasn't ready to be president. Unfortunately, he was right about the war in Iraq. But most people on the Democratic side, including the nominee, didn't want to admit that, then or now. Democrats still live in fear of being labeled soft on defense. McGovernitis is a disease that is as serious as Willie Hortonitis.

As a result, an election conducted in the middle of a war that had lost its very reason for being, and was turning into a disaster before our very eyes, in which the Democratic nominee was chosen in very large part because he had the most credibility of all the candidates on national security issues, did not turn into a referendum on the war. It barely generated a debate. We have not had such a referendum, we have not even had such a debate.

Soldiers are raising questions Democrats should have been demanding answers to.

If the opposition party is not willing to stand up, someone else will.

The Defense Department, which for so long managed to turn journalists into semi-partisans by giving them the perspective of soldiers, cannot now complain when journalists also wonder why they are being asked to expose themselves to needless risks in unarmored vehicles. So what if an embedded journalist helped a soldier write a question. Iraqi insurgents don't know or care which Americans are in the tanks.

The president has admitted, finally, just how bleak the picture is. A mess hall is not a secure place for lunch. Our kids are in danger merely being there, too many Iraqis still run away, and Americans are forced to act as an army and police force.

Why? Most people really don't know. We are not in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction. We are not there because Saddam Hussein had anything at all to do with Sept. 11. But it doesn't matter anymore. We are there because we are stuck there, and being there has generated almost as many enemies for us as a hasty retreat would. Somewhere in between, we have to get out.

Where in between? At what cost, in terms of dollars and lives? How? What do we owe the troops, between now and then?

Democrats have spent a great deal of time in recent months examining the last campaign, blaming each other and everyone else for what went wrong, again. It doesn't matter. The next campaign will be different. Whatever is learned from this one won't apply anyway, and trying will be counterproductive. Different people will run it. And there is more important business to be done.

During the campaign, it was argued that you couldn't support the troops if you questioned the war effort.

Things have changed. The troops themselves have started raising questions.

So have their families. It has become increasingly clear that you cannot support the troops UNLESS you question the war effort. That is the challenge that the next presumptive front-runner, the junior senator from New York, must now face.

COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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Howard Dean wasn't ready for prime time. He wasn't ready to be president. Unfortunately, he was right about the war in Iraq. But most people on the Democratic side, including the nominee, didn't want to admit that, then or now. Democrats still live in fear of being labeled...
Challenging,the,War
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2004-00-24
Friday, 24 December 2004 12:00 AM
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