Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dean’s foreign policy speech

Howard Dean gave his big foreign policy talk today in San Francisco. It is worth a read. He is digging in, claiming that his views on Iraq haven’t changed. Try to figure out what is important, what is less important, and what is pressing. Kind of hard, I would argue. It is full of talk about the "international community," working with others in a "true partnership," of "shared hopes," of "repairing our alliances," and of regaining "global support," securing "maximum support from other nations," and about how new leadership with strengthen partnerships, and so on. These three paragraphs give you the flavor:

"Meeting the pressing security challenges of the 21st century will require new ideas, initiatives, and energy. But it also will require us to draw on our proudest traditions, including the strong global leadership demonstrated by American Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, to renew key relationships with America’s friends and allies. Every President in that line, including Republicans Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and the first President Bush demonstrated that effective American leadership includes working with allies and partners, inspiring their support, advancing common interests.

"Now, when America should be at the height of its influence, we find ourselves, too often, isolated and resented. America should never be afraid to act alone when necessary. But we must not choose unilateral action as our weapon of first resort. Leaders of the current administration seem to believe that nothing can be gained from working with nations that have stood by our side as allies for generations. They are wrong, and they are leading America in a radical and dangerous direction. We need to get back on the right path.

"Our allies have been a fundamental source of strength for more than half a century. And yet the current administration has often acted as if our alliances are no longer important. Look at the record: Almost two years passed between September 11 and NATO assuming the leadership of a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. More than six months have gone by between the fall of Baghdad and any serious consideration of a NATO role in Iraq."

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