I had to respond to WaPo's smear piece on Howard Dean.
To the editor,
That Saddam was among the vilest and most evil of all too many such dictators is without question. However, your scathing attack on Governor Howard Dean ("Beyond the Mainstream," Dec. 18) is beyond the pale. In citing evidence that Saddam posed a threat to the United States, conspicuously absent is any mention of the successful containment policy that had been levied against his regime. And your use of "plotted," "sought," and "could have" to describe the threat hardly invokes a sense that it was immediate - the basis for President Bush's decision to launch a preemptive war and thereby radically change the course of American foreign policy. By going to war against Iraq, Bush diverted resources from the real war on terror and may have actually made us less safe.
You also completely ignore the fact that Saddam was coddled for years by the likes of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the like. The Reagan administration tolerated the very same human rights abuses Bush Jr. now highlights as the new and improved justification for the war in Iraq. Saddam was once our "ally" against Iran, so American companies, with the blessing of the U.S. government, sold materials and technologies to Iraq that enabled Saddam's WMD programs. American administrations were hardly moved by Saddam's massacres of his own people. Companies like Halliburton have done business with Saddam, even during years of sanction.
Saddam didn't "become" a threat until after President Bush took office. But now it seems history doesn't matter, and it's OK for a major newspaper to recast Saddam as America's decades-long #1 enemy. In that context, I suppose your smear of Dean ought not be surprising.