August 15, 2005

Howard Dean: Democrats Have No Idea How To Win the Iraq War

The Democrats have been highly critical of President Bush’s handling of the war on Iraq. Since the Iraq war started, the Democrats have criticized the decision to go to war (even though a large number of Democrats voted to authorize the war), the implementation of the war, the casualty figures and the troop levels. Yet, the Democrats have been largely devoid of ideas as to how the Iraq war can be waged more effectively or, for that matter, won. Rather, the Democrats only “original” idea is that the United States should immediately withdraw. According to Howard Dean, the Democrats do not need to propose a plan for success in Iraq – that is the President’s job. The following is from a transcript for Face the Nation (CBS News) on Sunday, August 14, 2005:

SCHIEFFER: Why do you suppose it is, though, Governor, that while people are losing confidence in the president's handling of the war that--and every poll suggests that--why do you suppose that people are not buying what Democrats are saying? They don't seem to be taking too much to the Democrats on that.

Dr. DEAN: I think they are buying what Democrats are saying. I think people believe that we need a plan to get our troops to come home. I think that people do understand now...

SCHIEFFER: But if may say so...

Dr. DEAN: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: ...I mean, saying we need a plan. I mean, sure, you need a plan, but do you have a plan? Is anybody working on a plan? What would you propose?

Dr. DEAN: Well, Bob, the president of the United States is commander in chief. It is up to him to come up for a plan. You can't expect a congressman and senators who don't have the same access to intelligence as the president does to come up with a plan to withdraw our troops from Iraq. We look--the president got us into Iraq 'cause people were willing to trust the president, even some Democrats were willing to trust the president in assuming he knew what he was doing. The problem is now that there's ample evidence to say that they didn't understand what they were getting into and they still don't know what we're doing there. They changed their goals. The troops are still not properly equipped. The constitution looks like it may take away freedom from the Iraq people, at least half of them, instead of added to them. What we need is a plan from the president of the United States. You can't expect a particular senator or particular congressman to have a plan. Only the president can do that.

Of course, Howard Dean is absolutely correct that it is the President’s job to determine how to wage the Iraq war. Yet, that has not stopped the Democrats from second-guessing every decision made by this Administration.

If the Democrats do not believe the war is being waged effectively, then, as the opposition party, they have every right to criticize the Administration (this is a democracy). Yet, the Democrats should at least tell the American public how the war could be waged better. Unfortunately, for all the second-guessing, the Democrats have yet to formulate a strategy for how the Administration could be waging the war more effectively.

According to Howard Dean, however, a congressman or senator can be excused for not having any better ideas. That is ridiculous. My thought is this: if they don’t have enough intelligence to come up with a plan or other suggestion for winning the war, then they do not have enough intelligence to continuously criticize the Administration’s handling of the war. How can the Democrats claim to know enough about the situation on the ground to continuously second guess the Administration, yet not have enough information to tell us how they would do things differently? Hypocrisy in my book.
Notice how Howard Dean focuses on a “plan to withdraw our troops” rather than a plan to win the war… The Democrats either refuse to believe that the Iraq war can be won or do not care about winning the war.
Moreover, it is infuriating to me that Howard Dean continues to claim that the Democrats were essentially tricked into authorizing the Iraq War because they "trusted" the President. This is ridiculous. The Democrats should have the courage to stand by their votes. Hell, the Democrats can say that they were wrong and should not have voted to authorize the war, but don't give me any of this crap that you were tricked. Regardless of political party, as an American citizen, I absolutely demand that my elected politicians seriously scrutinize any decision to go to war. They may end up making the wrong decision, but at least they approached the matter seriously. By claiming that the Democrats were tricked into authorizing the war, Howard Dean is further cementing the public's widespread belief that the Democrats are not qualified to handle foreign policy.
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