The Mix

Howard Dean: Imperial Democrat?

D.C. is starting to taint him.
Yesterday, there was quite a lot of attention given to an interview DNC chair Howard Dean gave to a San Antonio radio station. The sound bite everyone pulled from it is his quote that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." In other words, it's right to say we can't win it -- a.k.a. "we lost." Nothing new there. Maj. Isaiah Wilson, the official historian of the U.S. Army for Gulf War II concluded in July, 2003 -- a few months after the U.S. had invaded -- that the U.S. had "lost its dominance." Yet another way of saying, "we lost."

But the real thing that bowled me over about what Dean said, is just how bloody imperial his tone was about what to do with Iraq (disclosure, I worked on Dean's presidential campaign in Vermont). After making the call to spend two years withdrawing, and to "bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately," I didn't like what I heard:

"We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don't have enough troops to do the job there and it's a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We've got to get the target off the backs of American troops." [emphasis mine]

In other words, Dean wants there to be thousands of U.S. troops in the Middle East, just not in Iraq. We need to base them in a country from which we can continue to launch attacks on Iraq. Dean cynically names the fake spectre of Zarqawi as the rationale, and doesn't mention oil. Just why exactly, do we need a force in the Middle East, and why has Dean chosen to believe that U.S. troops are welcome in Afghanistan, when it's a U.S. puppet in charge of rolling out the red carpet?

I'll tell you why. Howard Dean has made the Faustian bargain, and bought into the imperial foreign policy of the D.C establishment. It boggles the mind that Dean and his colleagues in Washington haven't been forced to give a reason for why the U.S. army is parked on top of all that oil.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.