Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

September 9, 2003

by J

The Israel Flap

Dean's apparently getting a lot of flack for saying
Israel has always been a longtime ally with a special relationship with the United States, but if we are going to bargain by being in the middle of the negotiations then we are going to have to take an evenhanded role.
It doesn't sound like the words of a madman or a thoughtless person to me. But Kerry said:
It is either because he lacks the foreign policy experience or simply because he is wrong that governor Dean has proposed a radical shift in United States policy towards the Middle East. If the president were to make a remark such as this it would throw an already volatile region into even more turmoil.
And Lieberman said:
If this is a well-thought-out position, it's a mistake, and a major break from a half a century of American foreign policy. If it's not, it's very important for Howard Dean, as a candidate for president, to think before he talks.
Lieberman is patronizing as usual and Kerry of course is doing everything he can to make it seem as though he has more relevant 'experience.' The Israel/Palestine/Middle East conflict is something that I almost never talk about or write about. It seems to me to be a completely intractable problem, but I can't say as I'm bothered by Dean suggesting that an evenhanded approach might be useful.

Interestingly, though, other webloggers who are more educated on this issue than me have had thoughtful things to say. Billmon, who, by the way, had a great short version of Bush's speech:
Iraq is now the central front in the global war against absolute evil, but it's not so important that we have to roll back any of my tax cuts, send more U.S. troops to Iraq or do anything else that might make swing voters slightly less likely to vote for me next year. Thank you and God Bless America.
has now endorsed Dean based on his statements about Israel:
[...] If the problem cannot be solved, it must still be managed. If America does not take responsibility for enforcing a just solution of the conflict, then it will eventually be forced to disengage from the conflict -- with all that that entails for the security of Israel and the future of the Palestinian people. The neoliberal strategy is in ruins; the neocon strategy is hopeless. America lacks both the resources and the will to tame the Arab world by force.

The choice is simple: America can fight its war against terrorism -- a political struggle as much as a military one -- or it can try to make the Middle East safe for Greater Israel. It cannot do both.

To me, a just peace looks like a better deal. And Dean is the only candidate I've seen who's been willing to even talk about what America must do to create the conditions for such a peace in Israel/Palestine. [...]I have to give Dean the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because there's no alternative. If the events of the past two years haven't demonstrated the dire consequences of America's current policies in the Middle East, the events of next two years could drive the message home with even more lethal force. I have to support the candidate who I think is most likely to put America on a different course. I know the odds that Dean will actually do so are slim, but the odds that any of the other candidates will do it is none.

So sign me up, put my name down, take the roll, whatever. I'm enlisting in Dr. Dean's Army.
Excellent. Dan over at KerryForPres, while not switching who he's supporting, is sitting in Tel Aviv today and also believes that Dean is right on this issue and Kerry is wrong:
Of course the U.S. should always support and protect Israel, as the only current viable Democracy in the Middle East, the only country with equal rights for sexes and freedom of speech. But Israel has made mistake and should be held to a higher standard, as should the U.S. The U.S. needs to be seen as an honest broker in the Middle East or there will never be peace. This does mean on occasion taking stands against Israel.

Dean is right on this one. And while I am a firm Kerry supporter and agree with him on most issues, on this very important issue, I applaud Dean's bravery and am disappointed in Kerry's position.

Posted by J at September 9, 2003 07:31 PM

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