Friday, December 26, 2003

Another 'Dukakis moment' for Howard Dean 

The Las Vegas Sun reports that "Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says it's premature to recommend what penalty Osama bin Laden should face before he's been legally determined to be guilty of the Sept. 11 terror attacks."

Howard Dean is certainly correct that our system should not "prejudge jury trials," but if he is going to be an effective candidate in the general election he is going to have to act, at least, that he is outraged by the atrocities Bin Laden committed on September 11. Calling for Bin Laden's head is the right and vote-getting thing to do, and if Dean does not start doing so he is going to get crushed in November.

More troubling is that Dean apparently "questioned whether the Bush administration's use of force against Iraq had anything to do with Libya's announcement that it will scrap its programs for weapons of mass destruction." Who is he kidding? As Charles Krauthammer argues very lucidly, if sarcastically: "Yeah, sure. After 18 years of American sanctions, Moammar Gaddafi randomly picks Dec. 19, 2003, as the day for his surrender. By amazing coincidence, Gaddafi's first message to Britain -- principal U.S. war ally and conduit to White House war councils -- occurs just days before the invasion of Iraq. And his final capitulation to U.S.-British terms occurs just five days after Saddam Hussein is fished out of a rathole."

Anybody who argues that the Iraq war had nothing to do with Libya's capitulation has to explain why the Clinton Administration didn't get the job done years ago. After all, if mere diplomacy, without the credible threat of force, could get Libya to surrender its nuclear weapons program, what was holding Clinton back?


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