Howard Dean on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’

WASHINGTON – Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, never known to mince words, today told a San Antonio radio station the U.S. cannot win the war in Iraq.

The “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” Dean predicted on WOIA.

He predicted the Democratic Party would come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and reserve troops immediately, and all U.S. forces within two years.

“I’ve seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam,” said Dean. “Everybody then kept saying, ‘just another year, just stay the course, we’ll have a victory.’ Well, we didn’t have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening.”

Dean says the Democrat position on the war is “coalescing,” and is likely to include several proposals.

“I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years,” Dean said. “Bring the 80,000 National Guard and reserve troops home immediately. They don’t belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don’t have enough troops to do the job there and it’s a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Abu Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We’ve got to get the target off the backs of American troops.”

He refused to call the Democratic proposal a “withdrawal,” instead characterizing it as a “strategic redeployment.”

“The White House wants us to have a permanent commitment to Iraq. This is an Iraqi problem,” said Dean. “President Bush got rid of Saddam Hussein and that was a great thing, but that could have been done in a very different way. But now that we’re there we need to figure out how to leave. Eighty percent of Iraqis want us to leave, and it’s their country.”

Dean repeated his charge that Bush lied about pre-war intelligence to lure Congress into the conflict – this time comparing it to the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency in 1974.

“What we see today is very much like what was going in Watergate,” Dean said. “It turns out there is a lot of good evidence that President Bush did not tell the truth when he was asking Congress for the power to go to war. The president said last week that Congress saw the same intelligence that he did in making the decision to go to war, and that is flat out wrong. The president withheld some intelligence from the Senate Intelligence Committee. He withheld the report from the CIA that in fact there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq), that they did not have a nuclear program. They (the White House) selectively gave intelligence to the United States Senate and the United States Congress and got them to give the go ahead to attack these people.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman blasted the comments by Dean.

“In predicting that America will lose the war in Iraq, Howard Dean is the latest national Democrat leader to embrace retreat and defeat in the central front in the war on terror,” said Mehlman. “His outrageous prediction sends the wrong message to our troops, the enemy and the Iraqi people just 10 days before historic elections. Democrats across the nation should stand up and reject the pessimism of their chairman and strategy of defeat by their congressional leaders.”

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