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Jewish World Review March 5, 2003 / 1 Adar II, 5763

Roger Simon

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Consumer Reports

Howard Dean's world | Not long ago, I sat down with Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. Here is some of that conversation.

Me: I was just wondering since this is the first time you've run for president, what you've learned so far.

Howard Dean: You know, if you listen carefully when you go to meet with people, you learn a lot. I learned what people thought about American corporations before Enron and Arthur Anderson from an Iowa audience who were terrified that they were going to lose their jobs. They believed that American corporations aren't American anymore. They know they pay well and they give good benefits, but they also know that they can lose their jobs at any time.

Me: Corporate responsibility and corporate corruption have really faded as issues.

Dean: It will come back. People are still very worried about this issue, and the president won't be able to keep Iraq on the front burner forever. And homeland security, I actually think the president is going to be vulnerable on.

Me: Yet you have praised him for his handling of terrorism.

Dean: Early on, but there have been some things, a couple of things recently that I think are huge problems. The first is that in Afghanistan the Americans are not policing the periphery -- we're allowing the warlords to do it. That's an enormous mistake. It's going to undo all the good things that happened in Afghanistan ultimately because if Afghanistan isn't a democratic nation, Al Qaeda will move back in.

Secondly, I thought the president's handling of the Scud missiles in allowing them to go to Yemen was shocking and you know the notion that it's OK to let Scuds go into the most volatile region on earth is foolish.

Did we learn nothing from Afghanistan? That your friends may be your enemies three or four years later? I was shocked especially since it was an un-flagged and unmarked ship, and I know the president cried "International law, international law," well tell me what's so legal about having 150,000 troops surrounding Iraq unilaterally?

So, I think letting the Scuds into Yemen was a huge mistake. And I also think that the fact that president has no oil policy is going to get him in a lot of trouble because if he is unable to go to the Saudis and cut off the Saudis' support for terror ... and that's going to be an issue in the campaign.

The Saudis are funding Hamas, and the Saudis are funding madrassas, which are essentially teaching, laying the groundwork for the next generation of suicide bombers and terrorists by teaching small children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews.

And I think what the president hasn't been clear about is that everybody who teaches hate is an enemy, including the Saudis if they continue to do that, and the president has to be able to say to them, "You've got to stop," and he can't do it because he has no oil policy and we're so dependent on Saudi oil -- particularly with what's going on Venezuela -- they're desperate to get oil, I think.

Me: Has the administration used Iraq for political purposes?

Dean: He certainly did before the election, there's no question about that.

Me: You mean, before the November 2004 election?

Dean: Yeah. (Karl) Rove (Bush's chief political adviser) made it very clear that he was going to do it, and he did it very successfully. I think the president cares deeply about Iraq, but I think he has used it to focus attention away from his appalling record on the budget and domestic agenda. And the Democrats have, frankly, cooperated with that by not being as tough as they should be.

Me: Do you believe Bush has made a good case to the United Nations for an invasion?

Dean: No, I don't think the case has been made. I rarely agree with the French, but I have to say I think they have a good suggestion, which is to triple the number of inspectors. But the case (still) has to be made that Iraq is an eminent danger.

Me: Do you want a second U.N. resolution?

Dean: I would prefer a second U.N. resolution, but if the U.N. is ready to go in without one, that's fine -- but I think this needs to be done under the auspices of the U.N. Saddam needs to be disarmed, let's be very clear about that. Saddam cannot be permitted to go on -- this can't go on forever -- he will be disarmed, but I think unilateral force is the last resort, unlike the president who behaves as if it's the first resort.

Me: Would you prefer the president go back to Congress for a second resolution?

Dean: I think that's a good idea. If he makes the case to Congress, he'll get the support. But I don't think he's made ... the most important thing is he hasn't made the case to the American people yet. I mean, I was just down in Parris Island a week ago, watching the training. I was lucky enough to be able to have lunch with some of the recruits and, you know, those are young kids who are going to die, some of them in Iraq.

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