Opinion » Columnists

Howard Dean Gets It Right Again

It was fascinating to see how the media pounced on US Democratic presidential front-runner, Howard Dean last week in the wake of the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

How, they all wondered, could he possibly bounce back with his anti-war stance in light of what everyone assured us was a great victory for President George Bush?
To hear some of the commentators and pundits, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that the 2004 election was all but over already with Bush certain of a landslide win on November.

As if to make matters worse seemingly, Dean then boldly reiterated his view only a few days later that Americans were not any safer despite Saddam’s capture. Not a very astute political move cried many of the so-called experts, something that was naive and could come back to haunt him was almost the perception. Of course that was before the events of the following week.

And so here we are in the run up to Xmas and the US Department of Homeland Security suddenly raises the terror alert in America up to the highest level since it has been since 9/11. How ironic indeed then.

There were the Bush supporters thinking they had Governor Dean on the ropes and he comes back swinging, and who would have thought that it would have been the President’s own jewel in the crown, newly set up government department that would inadvertently provide him with the very ammunition with which to do so.

Even some conservative commentators were forced to concede that all of this does pose a somewhat awkward question here – if the capture of Saddam Hussein was such a great achievement in what is supposedly a war against terror then how come the nation is put on a state of high alert against impending attacks only a week later?

Just exactly how has his capture made Americans safer then?

Of course there are potentially various explanations for this, all of them conveniently vague and fuzzy that do not actually answer the question at all.

We have to understand this in the overall context of that, and bear in mind that one thing is linked to another and clichйs like these people don’t just act alone you know abounded the airwaves in response. Yet in reality, the answer is very simple indeed; how did the capture of Saddam Hussein make Americans safer? It didn’t!

Nor was it ever likely to either seeing as we still cannot find those alleged weapons of mass destruction that he might have sold to terrorists – a difficult task for him to accomplish as it would seem hard to give away what you never had in the first place.

The people whom the Bush administration are most afraid may carry out a new terrorist attack – al Qaida and Osama bin Laden – are not even in Iraq right now anyway in all probability.

The consensus is that they are quite a distance away in Pakistan, ironically a country that is supposed to be an ally of the US in its war against terror.

And whilst the administration carries on it’s fumbling ways in Iraq, its intelligence agencies still cannot seem to find the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks, even though reporters at Newsweek magazine seem to be able to do so (or close enough to it anyway) judging from interviews they printed from close bin Laden aides over the last few weeks.

If the US mainland is, God forbid, unfortunate enough to suffer another attack, then Howard Dean’s remarks will seem uncomfortably accurate indeed.

Hopefully it will never come to that as it would be a cruel irony indeed if it took the violent deaths of innocent American civilians to make the public wake up to what was a largely pointless, distraction in waging war in Iraq was when it comes to defeating terrorism.

It would seem then, that just as he did about his stance in opposing the war in Iraq, Governor Dean may have been the only one to get it spot on yet again.

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