Thursday, January 15, 2004
Yet it appears that Howard Dean was not always the staunch friend of the multilateralist consensus. To wit, this letter to Bill Clinton dated July 19, 1995:
The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
After long and careful thought, and after several years of watching the gross atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs, I have reluctantly concluded that the efforts of the United Nations and NATO in Bosnia are a complete failure.
I think your policy up to this date has been absolutely correct. We must give, and have given, this policy with our allies and with the United Nations every opportunity to work. It is evident, however, that the cost in human lives in allowing this policy to continue is too great. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for the United States, we are now in a position of ignoring, as many did in the 1940s, one of the worst crimes committed in history. If we ignore these behaviors, no matter where they occur, our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. As the Catholic Church and others lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out, so will the United States lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action.
Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action. While I completely agree with you that no ground troops should be committed for other than humanitarian purposes in Bosnia, I would ask that you take the following steps in Bosnia. First, lift the arms embargo as it applies to the Bosnian government. Second, enforce a full embargo of the sort that is now in effect in Iraq on the Bosnian Serbs and upon Yugoslavia. Third, break off diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia. Fourth, commit American air power to support the Bosnian government until the situation is stabilized and the civilian murders and atrocities by the Bosnian Serbs have been stopped.
I understand the risks of this policy and their implications for the NATO Alliance and the future success of the United Nations. Surely, however, as you watch and read about the huge amount of unwarranted human suffering, particularly of children, you would agree that our current course must now be changed.
I urge you to make these changes as soon as possible, and I look forward to supporting your policy fully to the best of my ability.
Howard Dean, M.D.
I have bolded the money passages and underlined the most critical passage of all, that which warns that the United States ' moral fiber would be weakened should we fail to stop the human rights catastrophe in the Balkans. In a fine critique of this letter, Edward Djerejian in his superb Belgravia Dispatch (scroll down to his entry for January 14th) notes that the Dean letter came just in the wake of reports of the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. In short, Dean was too little, too late, in Djerejian's judgment.
And so, fast forward nine years to 2004. Howard Dean appears to take exception to George Bush acting against a much more severe violation of human rights in Iraq than the former Governor was willing to tolerate in the Balkans. Of course, his letter was addressed to Bill Clinton, and Clinton was a Democrat (who, in all likelihood, probably leaked this letter). I find it hard not to come to the conclusion that Dean's opposition to the present campaign in Iraq was based on partisanship and the need to gather in the antiwar Democratic base voter.
Put this together with Howard Dean's sly use of an urban legend about Bush and 9-11 on the Diane Rehm Show and I find it hard to continue to resist the conclusion that Dean is not simply a demagogue, but is also a con man leading the gullible to the Promised Land.
Of course, this kind of thing catches up with any man. For Dean, it will catch up to him in the fall.