No George McGovern (washingtonpost.com). Robert Kagan can read, and he's no prisoner of anyone's dogma but his own. So he doesn't accept the Republican spin points about Howard Dean.
On the contrary, he sees what I see: Howard Dean is no peacenick at all — he's squarely inside the somewhat militaristic consensus of the center-right foreign policy establishment. Dean just thought the Iraq war was unwise and unnecessary — and was able to say so because he had nothing to lose. (I suspect many others thought the same thing at the time but had more to lose and kept quiet.)
Kagan delivers a few jabs, but they are above the belt. The first is that Dean will disappoint the most dovish Democrats.
That's true, and it could hurt Dean in the primaries (but probably won't as campaign cognitive dissonance is setting in among his supporters), although it makes Dean more electable in the long run. As Kagan puts it, “The Bushies are planning to run against a dovish McGovern, but there's a remote possibility they could find themselves running against a hawkish Kennedy.”
The second jab is that “the rest of the world should note well … that the general course of American foreign policy is fairly stable and won't be soon toppled — not even by Howard Dean.” That's true — but only if you count Bush and the maniacally unilateralist Velociraptors at the Defense Department as outside the US foreign policy consensus. Any democrat running will return to the pre-Bush vision that our alliances are worth maintaining, the UN has a place in the world, and not every treaty (other than anti-democratic trade deals) is a mugging.