Dean says Saddam’s capture doesn’t make U.S. safer

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made the United States safer from terrorism. Dean made his comments during a major foreign policy speech on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The centerpiece of Dean’s new foreign policy initiative is the creation of a global alliance to fight terrorism throughout the world. In a speech to the Pacific Council on International Policy, Dean pledged to contribute $30 billion over a ten-year period to help a new global effort share intelligence, strengthen law enforcement cooperation and enhance anti-terror military operations.

Dean says the unilateral approach taken by the Bush administration in Iraq has been a mistake and has not made the United States safer from future terrorist attacks:

(Dean) “The capture of Saddam is a good thing, which I hope very much will keep our soldiers in Iraq and around the world safer. But the capture of Saddam has not made America safer. Addressing these critical and interlocking threats – terrorism and weapons of mass destruction – will be America’s highest priority under a Dean administration.”

(Kinzel) Dean says it’s essential for the United States to work with its allies to fight the war on terrorism:

(Dean) “Had the United Nations given us permission and asked us to be part of a multi-lateral force, I would not have hesitated to go into Iraq. But that was not the case. The United Nations had an obligation to contain Saddam because they were a regional threat. But since Iraq was never an imminent threat to the United States, I do not and – I did not then and I do not now believe that unilateral intervention in Iraq is in the long run going to be a policy that leads to any increase in the safety of the United States of America.”

(Kinzel) Dean’s position on Iraq was sharply criticized by one of his Democratic opponents on Monday afternoon. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who voted for the Iraqi war resolution in Congress, says the capture of Saddam Hussein clearly shows that Dean’s anti-war policies would have been a disaster:

(Lieberman) “If he truly believes that the capture of this evil man has not made America safer, then Howard Dean has put himself in his own spider hole of denial. And I fear that the American people will wonder if they will be safer with him as president, if Howard Dean cannot understand why the capture of Saddam Hussein has made America safer.”

(Kinzel) Lieberman says he’s also concerned that Howard Dean will not take the steps that are needed to strengthen this country’s defense capabilities if Dean is elected president.

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

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