Dean opposed to military action in Iraq

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(Host) Governor Howard Dean says he opposes a Congressional resolution giving President Bush the authority to take military action against Iraq. Dean says the president hasn’t made a compelling case to the American people to support this action.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Dean’s comments about Iraq are quite different from many of the other potential Democratic presidential nominees. Dean says he will support the president’s call for military action if Bush does three things.

The first is provide solid evidence that Saddam Hussein possesses either nuclear or biological weapons. The second is proof that Iraq has the capability of deploying these weapons. And the third is an acknowledgement by the president that the war against Iraq will require a long-term commitment by the United States to keep troops in Iraq. Dean says Bush has failed to do any of these things:

(Dean) “He has said Saddam is an evil man. Well, there are a lot of evil people and before our sons and daughters come home in pine boxes, I think it’s incumbent upon us to have a better reason than ‘He’s an evil man.’ I will take the president’s word for it. I think the president is a truthful person, but he has never said that Saddam possesses atomic weapons or biological weapons and the means to deliver them. Secondly, the president must do one other thing if the nation is going to support him in the long run: He must be truthful about the length of this effort.”

(Kinzel) A number of other Democratic presidential hopefuls are members of Congress and are generally supporting the president’s call for military action against Iraq. This has led some national news organizations to describe Dean as the “peace candidate.”

(Dean) “They are going to write all kinds of things about me and probably that helps me early on. I think when they examine my positions more closely, they’ll probably be more accurate about where I am. I suppose I – relatively speaking – am the peace candidate. Those guys are all in a tizzy because they have to vote on this resolution. They don’t know what to do. I always know what I want to do; I don’t know it’s the right thing all the time but I know what the sensible thing to do is. The sensible thing to do is think carefully before you jump into something.”

(Kinzel) Congress is expected to vote on an Iraqi resolution by the end of the month.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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