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Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

FOREIGN AFFAIRS....A few days ago Matt Yglesias mentioned that Tony Blair's support for the Iraq war had influenced him to support the war as well:

People tend not to be up front about this kind of thing, but clearly in the real world decision-making is highly heuristic....In that sense, I tend to think Blair was more influential than is often recognized in terms of moving American public opinion in Bush's direction.

I think this is right, and I'd also argue that it's a pretty rational approach to foreign affairs for most of us. On nearly all domestic issues, I feel pretty comfortable applying my liberal principles to the issues at hand and deciding for myself where I stand. However, I'm far less comfortable doing that on foreign policy issues, which are inherently murkier and less amenable to ideological solutions. Instead, when it comes to foreign affairs, I rely much more on the guidance of people I trust, people who have (I think) demonstrated an even temperament and good judgment when they've had to make difficult calls in the past.

Why am I bringing this up? I was emailing with Jeff Weintraub a couple of days ago about this subject, and he emailed back a link to a speech that Al Gore made a few months after 9/11. Gore is, for me, one of the guys I mentioned above. His judgment on foreign affairs has been pretty good through the years, and he's someone worth listening to.

I don't agree with everything Gore says in this speech. But it's worth reading regardless. Liberals may be uncomfortable fitting his words into their current-day view of Gore as anti-war prophet; conservatives will be uncomfortable seeing Gore as someone plainly more dedicated to waging a real fight against terrorism than the guy they've been supporting for the past five years. And all of us would do well to remember what it's like to listen to someone who has at least a modest command of the ways and means of statecraft. There are a few passages in the speech that are so prescient they'll make your teeth hurt.

Ladies and gentlemen, Al Gore.


Al Gore Address to the Council on Foreign Relations February 12, 2002

I am grateful to be back before the Council on Foreign Relations and I want to congratulate Les Gelb and the entire Council its staff and its members on the great work you have been doing to deepen our understanding of Americas role in the world.

A lot of people have let me know they wished I had been speaking out on public affairs long before now. But in the aftermath of a very divisive election, I thought it would be graceless to do so and possibly damaging to the nation. And then came September 11th.

In the immediate aftermath, I expressed full support for our Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush. Tonight I reaffirm that support of the Presidents conduct of the military campaign in Afghanistan, and I appreciate his candor in telling the American people that this will be a long struggle for which the nation must be braced and its political leadership united across party lines.

Indeed, President Bush deserves tremendous credit for the way he has led the nation in a highly successful opening counter-attack in the war against terror.

All Americans are proud of our nation's triumph and especially proud of the courage and skill that our armed forces have demonstrated in winning swift and decisive victories. Our men and women in uniform have shown uncommon valor and the highest levels of dedication, professionalism and preparedness in responding to this enormous challenge. They have proved they are up to the task and I know they will continue to protect and defend us in the coming stages of the military campaign as well.

If yesterday marked the five month anniversary of the darkest day in American history, today the Day After must mark the anniversary of one of the greatest days in American history: because on September 12, a bruised and battered nation began to fight back. Some fought back by rushing to aid and rescue the few surviving victims of the tragedy and to aid and comfort the grieving and bereaved. Here in this city, even this today, remains are still being removed from the World Trade Center site.

Some fought back by reporting to reserve units or shipping out for extended tours of duty. And still others reported for duty on the front lines of our homeland defense as firefighters, police, nurses, border patrol, and others whose courage and sacrifices are admired and appreciated now more than ever.

The Axis of Evil

I also support the President's stated goals in the next phases of the war against terrorism as he laid them out in the State of the Union. What I want to talk about tonight are the fundamental, strategic questions before us as a nation. What are the next steps in the war against terrorism? And beyond immediate next steps, what is the longer-range plan of action? And finally, what should be done to deal with root causes of this threat?

Since the State of the Union, there has been much discussion of whether Iraq, Iran and North Korea truly constitute an "Axis of Evil." As far as I'm concerned, there really is something to be said for occasionally putting diplomacy aside and laying one's cards on the table. There is value in calling evil by its name.

One should never underestimate the power of bold words coming from a President of the United States. Jimmy Carter's espousal of human rights as an integral part of American foreign policy was in truth the crucial first step towards the democratic transformation of Latin America. And Ronald Reagan's blast against "the evil empire" was a pivotal moment reminding everyone that there was more at issue in the struggle between east and west than a contest for power.

As important as identifying Iraq, Iran and North Korea for what they are, we must be equally bold in identifying other evils that confront us. For there is another Axis of Evil in the world: poverty and ignorance; disease and environmental disorder; corruption and political oppression. We may well put down terror in its present manifestations. But if we do not attend to the larger fundamentals as well, then the ground is fertile and has been seeded for the next generation of those born to hate us, who will hold these things up before the world's poor and dispossessed, and say that all these things are in our image, and rekindle the war we are now hoping to snuff out.

"Draining the swamp" of terrorism must of course in the first instance mean destroying the ability of terrorist networks to function. But drying it up at its source must also mean draining the aquifer of anger that underlies terrorism: anger that enflames the hearts of so many young men, and makes them willing, dedicated recruits for terror. Anger at perceived historical injustices involving a mass-memory throughout the Islamic world of past glory and more recent centuries of decline and oppression at the hands of the West.

Anger at the cynicism of Western policy during the Cold War: often aligning itself with corrupt and tyrannical governments. And even after all that, anger at the continued failure to thrive, as rates of economic growth stagnate, while the cohort of unemployed young men under twenty continues to increase.

This is anger different than the pure evil represented by terrorists, but anger nonetheless anger which is the medium on which the impulse to terrorism thrives. The evil we now confront is not just the one-time creation of a charismatic leader and his co-conspirators, or even of a handful of regimes. What we deal with now is today's manifestation of an anger welling up from deep layers of grievance shared by many millions of people.

Military force alone cannot deal with this. Public diplomacy alone cannot drain this reservoir. What will be needed is a far reaching American strategy for encouraging reform, and for engaging day in and day out with societies that are trying to cast off the curse of bitter experience relived continuously. Hope for the future is the only way to put out these fires.

What is "evil" anyway? I do not pretend to have the answer to such a question but my faith tradition teaches me that all of us have the potential inside of us for both good and evil. Indeed, the first example of murderous violence in the Bible is the story of the two sons of Adam and Eve. With slight differences, it is the same story told in Chapter five, verses 27 through 31 of "Sura" in the Koran, where Muslims read that both Cain and Abel "offered an offering, but it was accepted from one of them and was not accepted from the other." Feeling disrespected by God, Cain said to his brother, "I will most certainly slay you... then his mind facilitated to him the slaying of his brother, so he slew him; then he became one of the losers."

Disrespect, the feeling that what one has to offer in life has been rejected, the feeling that one has joined historys losers can make us as human beings more vulnerable to evil.

Conservative theologian Michael Novak wrote recently of Americas founders view that, "there is evil in the world and it coagulates, it gathers force, and if it bursts its bounds endangers everybody." In a brilliant essay that was otherwise full of praise for President Bushs actions in the war against terror, Novak concluded with an important caution: "The word evil, when used only of others, can intoxicate the user before he knows it. I commend to him [the President], and all of us, [Reinhold] Neibuhrs pregnant warning: the final enigma of history is therefore not how the righteous will gain victory over the un-righteous, but how the evil in every good and the un-righteousness of the righteous is to be overcome."

We must also expand our idea of what constitutes a threat to our security in the long run, and be prepared to confront and deal with these things, too. It is time to accept that massive environmental disorder including global warming is literally a threat to international peace and stability. We must finally develop alternatives to mid-eastern oil, internal combustion engines, inefficient boilers and the inertia that has paralyzed needed efforts at conservation.

HIV/AIDS is a national security threat. It is now the most deadly pandemic in the history of the world. U.S. leadership is needed.

We must acknowledge that the utter poverty of hundreds of millions of people is not a matter for compassion only, but a threat in the long term to the growth and vigor of the global economic system. We must see it as a part of our charge to help create economic opportunity so that the gap between the richest and poorest does not grow ever wider.

Globalized crime is a cousin to globalized terror, and along with corruption needs to be dealt with as an urgent threat to civil society.

Our most important immediate task is to continue to tear up the Al Qaeda network, and since it is present in many countries, it will be an operation, which requires new forms of sustained cooperation with other governments.

Even if we give first priority to the destruction of terrorist networks, and even if we succeed, there are still governments that could bring us great harm. And there is a clear case that one of these governments in particular represents a virulent threat in a class by itself: Iraq.

As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table. To my way of thinking, the real question is not the principle of the thing, but of making sure that this time we will finish the matter on our terms. But finishing it on our terms means more than a change of regime in Iraq. It means thinking through the consequences of action there on our other vital interests, including the survival in office of Pakistan's leader; avoiding a huge escalation of violence in the Middle East; provision for the security and interests of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf States; having a workable plan for preventing the disintegration of Iraq into chaos; and sustaining critically important support within the present coalition.

In 1991, I crossed party lines and supported the use of force against Saddam Hussein, but he was allowed to survive his defeat as the result of a calculation we all had reason to deeply regret for the ensuing decade. And we still do. So this time, if we resort to force, we must absolutely get it right. It must be an action set up carefully and on the basis of the most realistic concepts. Failure cannot be an option, which means that we must be prepared to go the limit. And wishful thinking based on best-case scenarios or excessively literal transfers of recent experience to different conditions would be a recipe for disaster.

But still, the question remains what next? Is Iran under the hard-liners less of a proliferation threat than Iraq? Or less involved with terrorism? If anything, Iran is at this moment a much more dangerous challenge in each area than Iraq. Iran is flight-testing longer range rockets. Iran has loaded up at least one merchant ship with a cargo of death for Israel.

The vast majority of the Iranian people seem to disagree with the policies and actions of the small group of mullahs now in control of their military and intelligence apparatus. We have to deal with that nations actions as they take place. In the process, however, we should find ways to encourage the majority who obviously wish to develop a more constructive relationship with us.

On the Korean peninsula, unlike in the previous two cases, we have a strong ally in South Korea. It is not enough to call North Korea what it is evil. We need to continue to keep the peace by remaining ready for war, as we have for almost fifty years. We also need to work with President Kim Dae Jung and the government in the Republic of Korea to galvanize positive action on the peninsula. Throughout the 1990s we proved that a creative, sustained program could help move the North Korean regime in new directions. Such creativity and commitment to addressing our interests in Korea are needed more than ever now.

And supposing even that we could eliminate the threat presented by the "Axis of Evil?" at what point, can the United States declare that the job is done, and leave the scene? Here, a too narrow definition of the threat, and a too limited assessment of its causes, can lead us into trouble.

It is important that America not just stand tall against terrorists, but America must also stand for economic opportunity and democratic freedoms. America must stand for human rights. America must stand for the rights of women. America must stand for environmental protection and energy conservation.

Unilateralism and hubris

The Administration in which I served looked at the challenges we faced in the world and said we wished to tackle these "With others, if possible; alone, if we must." This Administration sometimes seems inclined to stand that on its head, so that the message is: "With others, if we must; by ourselves, if possible."

The coalition so skillfully assembled by the President is one that may dissipate as rapidly as it coalesced, unless we make an investment in its permanence, beginning with a more evident respect on our part for the views and interests of its members. As regards our most important established alliance, NATO, we convey impatience and disdain for the military capabilities of its other members, and little patience for their views about longer-term objectives.

Maybe they have earned a good deal of that by their failure to invest in capabilities they only talk about; maybe some of them have been much too ready to believe that the best way to deal with dangerous forces is always to engage them in dialogue. Maybe some of them have bought peace for themselves by not looking too hard for terrorists who plot against us on their soil, so long as their plans did not disturb domestic tranquility.

But we need them with us and equally for sure, we cannot bind them to us for fierce battle over the long term if we take them lightly. We may be the worlds sole remaining super-power but we are going to need allies. In Greek mythology, Hercules was the super-power of his day, but when he faced his most dangerous foe, the multi-headed Hydra which like the terrorist networks of today grew two new heads every time one was cut off he had to build a coalition. Uncharacteristically he teamed up with an ally because it was the only way he could prevail.

Continuity of effort

One of the truly bad things about our politics is that it incites each administration to attack every last thing its predecessor has done, and to either tear down what was left or rename it so that its parentage can be forgotten. We did some of that but we also kept a lot of what we inherited from the first Bush administration and we protected it and built upon it. The struggle against terror may last for a very long time, even past a shift of parties in power. You know, the Cold War was won by the cumulative work of administrations from Harry S Truman to George H. W. Bush. And I hope that the present administration chooses to invest in reconstructing a sense of what bipartisanship in the defense of the country is all about: even after the planes land and the guns stop firing.

I don't pretend to any received wisdom but I learned a lot from my experience in the Clinton-Gore administration: lessons I think are worth remembering and incorporating into the normal practice of our diplomacy and of protecting from the vicious rip- tides of our politics. I know from experience that bi-partisanship is no easy matter. It is difficult to go against one's own political base, whether its a Democrat supporting the MX missile or a Republican trying to cancel an obsolete 70 ton artillery piece.

Above all, I learned that our engagement with others on behalf of common values is something that must be of profound intent, and of long duration. It isn't enough to destroy what is evil, and then seek to leave by the nearest door. We must make the commitment to work with those whom we have rescued until they can stand on their own feet.

That means supporting an increase in the size of the international security force in Afghanistan and enlarging its mandate beyond Kabul to the whole country. And it means remaining engaged ourselves, if not with a small symbolic presences in the international force on the ground, then at least as on the horizon ready to respond with help from the air when needed.

When all is said and done, I hope that when the people of our country next return the White House for a time to the Democratic Party, our leadership then will be big enough to salute the present administration for what it will have done that is wise and good. And to build upon it forthrightly.

Towards that end, we must now expand our concept of what is needed to reach the goals upon which we all agree. The United States needs to create a world made more just and more hopeful, not just a world made more profitable for ourselves. I hope that this Presidents record makes it damn hard for the competition to complain about his record in foreign policy. That may be bad for the loyal opposition. But its good for the people, who deserve it. And I promise my support for whatever he may do in support of that prayer.

Kevin Drum 1:47 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (98)

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Comments

It would be nice to heed Al Gore's wisdom starting now.

Posted by: David W. on September 11, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Liberals may be uncomfortable fitting his words into the current-day view of Gore as anti-war prophet"

I do not believe, and have never believed, that Gore is in any way anti-war. If you do, Kevin, it may be because you are not a liberal, and don't seem to know what anti-war actually sounds like.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on September 11, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Patrick: I did not say that Al Gore was anti-war. I said that many liberals currently view him that way, thanks to his public opposition to the Iraq war and his generally anti-Bush stance.

Gore is not and never has been anti-war. He is, however, opposed to foolish wars, and to wars conducted incompetently.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 11, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

So according to Disney, the BJ was the cause of 9/11. Who would have thought?

Posted by: gregor on September 11, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Politicians/pundits whose judgment I trust: Al Gore, Russ Feingold, Paul Krugman...

Posted by: Andrew on September 11, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

So according to Disney, the BJ was the cause of 9/11. Who would have thought?

Why is that surprising? Even the liberal New York Times admits that is what happened.

Link

"the Sept. 11 commission concluded that the sex scandal distracted the Clinton administration from the terrorist threat."

Posted by: Real Al on September 11, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Btw, here's a link to another prescient Gore speech that Bob Somerby often mentions, this one from September 2002... interesting to see the differences between the two.

Posted by: Andrew on September 11, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

after the jump?

Posted by: snuh on September 11, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Real Al: Read the linky.

It did not conclude that the scandal distracted the Clinton administration from the terrorist threat.

Posted by: clenis on September 11, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

I would be more amenable to reading Gore if he would have stood up and given a GRAND and TIMELY speech about how important it was to count all the votes in Fla. in 2000.

He didn't.

But both he and Lieberman sat on their manicured hands and left that fight to dimwit lawyers.

Since then... both of them have claimed separately (and on video) that they really won Fla.

Sorry fellas...
Sit down and shut up.

Your time has come and gone.
Both of you cashed in your chips back then as any sort of authority on anything.

Far as I am concerned:
Lieberman and Gore are both lepers with open lip sores they got from kissing republican assholes in 2000.

It is time to move on...

Besides... there is plenty of prescient observations out there. I suggest, you reread your threads from 2 years ago...


~~~~~~

As far as this goes:

Drum:

However, I'm far less comfortable doing that on foreign policy issues, which are inherently murkier and less amenable to ideological solutions.

There is enough wind in that passage to drive a small sail boat from Orange County to Hawaii.

Shit honey...

I mean...
Shit Kevin...

You are too bloody smart to defer anything to anyone...esp. DC pols or think tank villains who are all corrupted fucks any way you slice it...

Bologna! Now matter how thick you slice it...

Posted by: koreyel on September 11, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

clenis: "Real Al: Read the linky. 'It did not conclude that the scandal ...'"

America's right-wingnuts believe what they want to believe, regardless of whatever fact or evidence to the contrary is presented to them.

That's why when people like Dick Cheney still cling to the repeatedly discredited notion that Iraq had WMDs and was linked to the 9/11 plot, I believe that they truly believe both to be true.

And therein lies the crux of the political crisis facing our country. Which is more dangerous to our nation's well-being -- leaders who know the truth about a give situation but lie to the American people, or political leadership that's so completely delusional that it can't collectively discern the difference between reality and fiction?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 11, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'll read the whole thing right after this:

Matt Yglesias, being the age he is, lacks a certain amount of worldly experience.

First, I would point out that the main reason the US backed Bush and the repugnuts into Iraq was misplaced patriotism and being swept up in a certain amount of "Yahoo! It's a war!" that I have seen here before.

Second, Tony Blair totally failed to convince the vaste majority of his fellow countrymen so either Matt finds a British accent over compelling or he's looking for an excuse.

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Good speech, intelligent insight, commendable sentiments. But speeches like this are for less than 1% of the voting public who have the education, attention span, and open-mindedness to listen to what amounts to little more than a Liberal policy-wonk's "Happy Place".

By all means, these are exactly the kinds of speeches we should be hearing. But the problem Democrats continue to have is that outstanding speeches like this are not accompanied by the obligatory abridged subtitled version for the close-minded, under-educated, ADD Hee-Haw masses who place party loyalty above everything else including facts, country, and religion.

Gore's comments on Iraq are eerily prescient, but where is the voice of the Democratic party to point out that Rumsfeld literally forbade any planning for the occupation for fear that it would jeopardize selling the war to the American people, i.e. every effort was made to start a war, no efforts were allowed to win the peace. Where are the Democrats to point out that Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice continue to lie about connections between al Qaida and Iraq, despite the findings of the 9/11 Commission and a recent Senate investigation. And so on, and so on.

Democrats are still trying to conduct reasoned and nuanced policy discussions with Republicans. Republicans, by contrast, are perfectly comfortable distorting the truth, slandering their opponents, selling fear, and even manufacturing lies outright to win votes.

I fear that it's already far too late in the election cycle for Democrats to make the necessary adjustments to win big in the midterm elections. In fact, I have a very real fear the Democrats may fall short of a majority in the House, or if they do win a majority, that it will be too thin to make any real headway due to the complete and total lack of party unity.

I like Al Gore and if he runs again, I'd vote for him. But my problem with Democratic politicians like Gore and Kerry is that they're still stuck playing Dudley Doo-Right Statesmen who give long, carefully worded speeches like this as though they're addressing a symposium of the world's intellectual elites at Davos Switzerland, when in fact the situation is more like a building fire where trapped residents need quick, direct and unmistakable instructions on what to do, combined with immediate and decisive action by the fire fighters.

Gore's nearly 3,000 word speech just can't compete with "Jesus is a Republican", "God hates fags" "mushroom clouds over US cities" and "put a boot up Mohammad's ass" bile that comes from the GOP.

No, Democrats don't have to match the GOP in lies, hate and fear. Just bullet-point their platform, or don't bother. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the Democrats aren't bothering (not really). Hell, even Howard Dean seems to have been muzzled of late, due to the spinelessness of the Democratic party.

I hate to be a downer, and I don't mean to criticize a perfectly good speech. It's just that appeals to reason like this aren't especially effective when you're experiencing the political equivalent of an attack by Attila the Hun. They just serve to highlight the hopelessness of the situation.

Evil men will succeed not only when Good men fail to to stand up to them, but also when Good men who do stand up to them can't make their point in under 3000 words.

The Democrats need a political firebrand that they won't run away from. They don't have one, and if they did they'd run away from him anyway, so you can't blame the Republicans alone for setting the Great Experiment on a long but almost certainly irreversible decline.

Posted by: Augustus on September 11, 2006 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

I marched in protests against the Iraq war because I thought we were being railroaded into it. Hans Blix was still working while the US was stationing troops in forward positions that they would clearly not remain in through the summer. Bush claimed the US had intelligence about where weapons were being manufactured or stored, but apparently was unwilling to share that with Blix claiming that the UN couldn't be trusted.

I was somewhat reassured by Blair's comments because I believed he had a separate (principled) agenda. I think coopting Blair and Powell significantly muted the anti-war protests.

Tentakles

Posted by: Tentakles on September 11, 2006 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

Your supposedly shocking revelation is based on a straw man of Gore the big liberal, but he didn't serve as Bill Clinton's vice president for eight years and then pick Joe Lieberman as his vice president for nothing. He's in the American political center like you, so he was wrong and got swept up in lust for the war like you.

Your problem is that you internalize Republican talking points, which is why you perpetually worry that your best instincts are "too left wing" and go for your worst instincts instead.

Posted by: derek on September 11, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

Terror, terror, terror. 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. God Bless America

Posted by: George W. Bush on September 11, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

Gore for prez '08. It's our best chance to regain our footing and our respect in the world. Not to mention reverse the growing odds of global environmental catastrophe.

My god, it's so flippin' obvious. Even moreso than it was in 2000.

Posted by: Fel on September 11, 2006 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK

"...clearly in the real world decision-making is highly heuristic...."

Which definition of "heuristic"? Trial-and-error, experimental, feedback experience?

Well, only at the most basic level, and in certain experiments. That's why we have education, coaching, experts to consult, experience to lean on, and history to read. Not anything this administration has the patience to use.

Gore's speech wasn't for general comsumption so I thought the 3,000 words was actually precise and almost the minimum to cover all the diverse parts to this problem.

It's just amazing how far from a balanced, intelligent and multi-facetted approach this speech shows this administration to be.

That said, Augustus is right. It seems very hard for any Democrat to tune their speeches to the sound-bite world; but both JFK and FDR could manage it at a time when it seemed less necessary.

Posted by: notthere on September 11, 2006 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

What passage was prescient exactly? It was clear in the winter of 2001, or even before, to anyone paying attention, that the administration intended to invade Iraq.

The opening of the speech is shameful. President Bush displayed exemplary cowardice and deceit on 9/11 and has continued to since that time. It was also clear that there would be no serious long term commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan. The speech is pretty unremarkable.

Posted by: BL on September 11, 2006 at 5:04 AM | PERMALINK

I largely agree with Augustus's 607-word critique of Al Gore's 3,000-word speech. The speech shows both why Gore should have been President and why he didn't get elected: liberal foreign policy doesn't translate well into sound bites. In today's media:

Multilateralism > appeasement
Timetables > the enemy wins
Non-military solutions > failure to support our troops
Poor decision-making & execution > emboldening our enemies
Win hearts and minds > soft on terror
No WMDs > so what? Saddam's gone, the world's safer.

The lack of meaningful self-critique by the GOP is simply appalling -- it undermines our security and destroys our credibility.

The administration refuses to admit the US military cannot establish a permanent peace in Iraq. They entered Iraq with an unabashed WWII mindset, as if once Iraq fell al Qaeda, the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds would all sit down at a table and sign a surrender document and it would all be over. Americans love happy endings.

Nowadays, wars don't usually have happy endings. The technology of violence is available to just about anyone to continue fighting perceived grievances for years. Any number of factions would like control of Iraq's oil resources. Unless we do win hearts and minds President Bush has taken us down the path of either a permanent occupation or an Iraqi civil war.

See today's WP -- a lead article relates how the Marine Corps' Chief of Intelligence, Col. Pete Devlin, has written a classified assessment describing the situation in Anbar Province as "dire." Among other problems Devlin cites: not enough US troops to weed out al Qaeda. Also, the belief that turning over control to the Iraqi military would likely result in the slaughter of Sunnis by Shiites.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 11, 2006 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

Second, Tony Blair totally failed to convince the vaste majority of his fellow countrymen

Americans as a whole tend to be less questioning and cynical re. the motives of those in power and are much more amenable to a Blair Switch Project. And Matt really has so much more experience to gain.

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 11, 2006 at 5:12 AM | PERMALINK

BL - What passage was prescient exactly?

I was thinking of this one:

So this time, if we resort to force, we must absolutely get it right. It must be an action set up carefully and on the basis of the most realistic concepts. Failure cannot be an option, which means that we must be prepared to go the limit. And wishful thinking based on best-case scenarios or excessively literal transfers of recent experience to different conditions would be a recipe for disaster.

PJ - I largely agree with Augustus's 607-word critique of Al Gore's 3,000-word speech.

Okay, that's funny! You got me. Then again, I'm not running for office and I'm fairly confident that the only people likely to read my comments are ber-nerds. Your list of GOP sound-bite retorts is an excellent encapsulation of how the game plays out, as is your comment on the GOP's lack of self-critique.

I would go a step further and ask what term best describes the GOP's eagerness to put party loyalty ahead of morality, facts, and even the constitution? What do you call it when you actively participate in an administration's continuing lies about why we went to war (e.g. WMDs and the now thoroughly disproven claim that al Qaida and Saddam were working together)? What do you call it when you fail to hold the administration responsible for actively forbidding the development of plans to win the peace in Iraq in order to help sell the war? What do you call it when you do not hold the president accountable for letting Osama bin Laden escape, for making the war in Afghanistan a side show in order to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, for disbanding the CIA task force hunting bin Laden? What word describes giving the president cover to torture people in violation of the Geneva conventions, military law, federal law, and the constitution of the United States? What do you call it when you support the warrantless wiretapping of Americans phones?

If the word isn't treason, what is it?

Posted by: Augustus on September 11, 2006 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

augustus...

you are right.....that word is...

treason....

Posted by: g.w.bush on September 11, 2006 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus,

In part, we need to attack "government by sound bite." Americans have not been well served by sound bites.

Something like: Sound bites may sound good but they mean little and deliver less. We need to move beyond this to develop a meaningful American role in international affairs.

PJ

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 11, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, we need a soundbite to end all soundbites.

Posted by: Boronx on September 11, 2006 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

I supported the war, but I don't now. I knew clearly why I supported the war. In part it was for the reasons advanced by Kevin and Matt. I felt that Blair was a serious statesman and that opponents like Chirac and Schroeder were the usual European cynics. In part it was because i, like many, including prominent Democrats, believed that Saddam had WMD and the capacity to become a regional hegemon and therefore a real danger to the US. That belief in Saddam's WMD was based on the findings of experts in foreign policy. I bought into the neocon argument that the Iraqi people suffered under Saddam's tyranny and would welcome liberating US troops with flowers. The neocons argued, and I agreed, that the creation of a democratic Iraq would inject into the nearly lifeless but festering and feverish corpse of the Arab and Islamic world a healthy dose of healing reason. Boy, was I wrong. The experts were wrong.

What now? Please, please, do not shrug and think that now we can talk about health care and taxing the rich and scandals and all the other amusements in our political system. They are still out there, the perpetraters of 9/11, and by that I don't mean to taunt the GOP about Osama. I mean instead that there is a huge body of people out there who mean to kill us and to destroy our civilization, and they are driven not by poverty. If you think poverty is the problem, how do you explain the young men, born and brought up in the bosom of the English welfare state, who emerged with an alleged desire to blow up airplanes bound for New York?

Go ahead, if it makes you feel good, bash Bush and Blair. They deserve it and they can take it. At the end of the day, though, you still have to answer the question of what to do about this terrorism that, unlike other terrorisms which had limited and definable goals, has the goal of destroying us.

Posted by: jimbo on September 11, 2006 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Jimbo, the 'jihadists' in general seem driven not by "hate for our freedoms" (an infelicious phrase) but by dislike of our policies and our occupation of their lands. (http://www.juancole.com/) When a man like Juan Cole is called an "America-hater" because he seeks to understand the motivations of the terrorists, we are far gone into madness.
A few thousand terrorist cannot destroy a society of millions like ours. They can get us to do stupid things that will cause us to destroy ourselves. And politcal opportunists like Bush/Cheney will ride that destruction for their profit.

Posted by: MR. Bill on September 11, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be great to have a president like Al Gore, that actually knows how to speak English???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 11, 2006 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, anybody over the age of 11 who would let this speech persuade them to support 'President' Bush deserves to be bamboozled.

Somewhere around the age of 15 a person needs to develop information resources that help them make good decisions. If only to avoid getting pregnant or ending up with a lifetime of child-support payments.

Well, wake up, American Schmucko! Your child support payments for the Iraq war will be over a trillion. Forget that BMW, you'll be driving a Geo for a while. Unless your favorite credit card company, Red China, gives you more easy credit.

And that child could grow up into a worldwide dislike of America by a billion Muslims and their sympathizers, OKA 'human beings'.

What a miserable episode this has been! First, Clinton-Gore bombing Iraq for ten years, then the Bush invasion to shoot down 30,000 civilians, or maybe more- hey! who's counting? Not us, that's for sure.

Not exactly the ending we saw in Lawrence of Arabia.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 11, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

'"the Sept. 11 commission concluded that the sex scandal distracted the Clinton administration from the terrorist threat."'
Al

Actually, Ken Starr distracted the Clinton Administration from the terrorism threat and used 150 FBI agents to investigate Clinton's sex life when they should have been looking into Middle Eastern men learning to fly jumbo jets but not wanting to learn to land them.

I blame Ken Starr !!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 11, 2006 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Perhaps the speeech made your teeth hurt. It made me cry - for all that could have been and all that has been. Imagine having a President who is thoughtful and well-read. That alone would be a joy compared to the present situation.
Betty

Posted by: Betty on September 11, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

What the fuck? Kevin's point here is apparently that Gore isn't the hippie peacenik why-can't-we-all-just-get-along caricature which absolutely zero liberals think he is.

Morons like Kevin supported this shitbag of a war. Smart people like Gore didn't. It's that simple, but Kevin still wants to imagine that this is a battle between tough and weak, when it's a battle between messianic morons and sensible people.


Posted by: Bluto on September 11, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Woah, Bluto really nailed it. "Shitbag of a war" -- nice phrase :)

Honestly, the speech, while it didn't quite make me gag, certainly made me yawn frequently. No, I take that back. I was too annoyed to succumb to stupor. So much in that speech exemplifies the fundamental Democratic problem of attempting to sound "reasonable" by internalizing the GOP talking points.

I can certainly understand why our man Mr. Drum loved it enough to post the whole goddam thing on the main page instead of linking. It is so utterly Kevinoid that I can only imagine the extent of the drool puddle by Kevin's keyboard when he first read it. "Axis of evil, yeah, yeah, that's the ticket. It's real, it's real -- but so is poverty and global warming!" Oooh, orgasm time.

Au contraire, Mr. Drum. Au contraire, Mr. Gore. As soon as you use the phrase "axis of evil," you circumvent all talk about root causes, because evil is to be eradicated, not mollified. As soon as you externalize "evil" and project it onto an Other, all the noble and wise tocsins of Reinhold Neibuhr (not to mention Hannah Arendt) about the evil in the hearts of good men evaporate.

And as soon as you talk about Saddam Hussein as a "unique" threat and the Gulf War as an unfinished job, you legitimate an invasion. Once you legitimate an invasion, all your well-wishing for enough committment to "do the job right" is vain and fatuous.

I'm sorry, Mr. Drum. This speech positively reeked of Joe Lieberman.

I knew that war with Iraq was both inevitable and inevitably going to be a shitbag in the Fall of '02. And so did all of my friends.

Maybe your problem is that you spent too much time listening to "reasonable" gasbags like Al Gore, plumping for his damaged reputation.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

What's with your time stamp?

Posted by: shortstop, too demoralized to talk about anything else on September 11, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

I would be more amenable to reading Gore if he would have stood up and given a GRAND and TIMELY speech about how important it was to count all the votes in Fla. in 2000.

Sorry fellas...Sit down and shut up.

That's asinine. Grow up.

Posted by: RP on September 11, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ that was a long post. If you're going to quote a piece of wood, at least trim it down to size :)

-------------
I don't really want want to interrupt any retrospective navel gazing. The past and the inevitable retrospective rationalizations associated with it doesn't really bother me much.

That said, I'd like to give my own academic perspective on the topic.

First off, I'd suggest that a predetermined bias against the voices of shrill liberal activists also played a role in steering moderates toward the war. This country generally sees hawks as "serious" about foreign policy and doves as small ostriches with their heads stuffed securely in the sand -- when in fact, using bombs as a first resort is about as counterproductive as using flowers.

Rational people, like Gore and Dean, supporting a broad, agressive, and intelligent foreign policy were portrayed as hopelessly academic (or worse, hopelessly entwined with the peace and love crowd). They were out-of-touch with the post-911 world where potential threats were to be eliminated by patriotic cowboys that shoot from the hip and bad guys needed to be tied to anthills until they gave up the names of other guys who could be tied to anthills.

I'm confused about how Blair got so much credibility. I noticed during the Clinton/Bush transition he went far out of his way to stay close to the US and downplay any political differences. I figured there must be some domestic political considerations involved. He wanted to be the man with the important contacts. Maybe get the anti-Chirac vote. A politician first and foremost.

Where's the credibility? It's not like Blair had huge battles with the administration and then found common ground on Iraq.

-------------
My perspective during the war:

It was hard not to also notice that Bush and Cheney really really really wanted to invade Iraq and were hyping if not lying about several aspects of Iraq WMD (that I was informed about). Ties to OBL that had been debunked, Aluminum tubes that had nothing to do with centrifuges, small pox immunizations for the troops, 15 year old agar, mobile labs, etc. I didn't have access to their intelligence information, but they kept bringing up stuff that the UN had debunked or a lay scientist could immediately dismiss. And then they couldn't send Blitz to a single incriminating site. Their discussions about the Iraqi populace (and the flowers they were growing in rooms hidden from the secret police) were also ridiculously nieve. This was the track record I was paying attention to.

They said scary stuff I couldn't verify but I chose to group it with the other stuff they said in a little circular file in my head.

Posted by: B on September 11, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there was sure as hell a gasbag on this post and it sure as hell was not Gore. It truly was and is The Narcisstic Gasbag of New York City.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 11, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus,

I would go a step further and ask what term best describes the GOP's eagerness to put party loyalty ahead of morality, facts, and even the constitution? What do you call it when you actively participate in an administration's continuing lies about why we went to war

John Dean just wrote an entire book on this subject- Conservatives Without Conscience

Posted by: molly bloom on September 11, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, Narcissistic Overposting Boob from New York City.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 11, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I like Al Gore and if he runs again, I'd vote for him. But my problem with Democratic politicians like Gore and Kerry is that they're still stuck playing Dudley Doo-Right Statesmen who give long, carefully worded speeches like this as though they're addressing a symposium of the world's intellectual elites at Davos Switzerland

If John Kerry gave this speech in 2004, he'd have carried 43 states, and be cruising to a second term.

"Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow John Edwards and I are taking a rental truck full of ammonium nitrate and dragster fuel up to Tonawanda, NY, where with the help of an old cellphone, we'll be levelling the local Islamic center.

The media is invited to accompany us, but are advised to stay far back, lest they be injured by flying debris.

God bless the United States, and nobody else."

They'd have lost MA, NY, CA, ME, CT, VT, and RI. They'd have carried the rest. Bush would have lost by Landon-sized margins.

Do you want to win that bad?

American politics for the foreseeable future is poker played with the bodies of dead brown people who worship the wrong God.

BushCo has simply a larger stack of chips, and the equipment to make as many more as circumstances require.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 11, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

conservatives will be uncomfortable seeing Gore as someone plainly more dedicated to waging a real fight against terrorism than the guy they've been supporting for the past five years.

Kevin I can assure you conservatives will not be uncomfortable with anything Al Gore says or said. Or anything Al Gore did it is doing. Al Gore is a dick posing as an intellectual. He's doing so very successfully among liberals, and ONLY among liberlas, much to the comic relief of Conservatives.

Few are going to read this because Al Gore is not worthy of the time.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

jimbo:Even before all this, I can't really speak for the masses, but the anti-Iraqi war consensus at least here and other places in the left blogisphere, was that going into Iraq, the biggest reason not to do it was that it was actually going to make fighting terrorism tougher.

Where Gore was right in his speech, is the concept that we need to do more than just kill people. Now, what we're not saying, and what nobody..(well except for Dinesh D'Souza) of any real influence is saying, is that we need to appease the terrorists. For a bunch of reasons, we can't do that. They want too much of what we can't and won't ever give.

But what we CAN do, is appease the moderates. This largely more about good economic policy than any sort of social policy. We can get them to support us, and not the terrorists. THIS should be the goal of the "War on Terrorism", becaues that's how we win.

Mind you, in the short term, this will actually cause a spike in terrorist activity, because we'll actually be beating them. So we need to combine this with law-enforcement based (in a lot of cases, you really need specially trained troops who can do this stuff) investigation into cells to shut them down, but without jepordizing the entire mission (I.E. NO TORTURE!!)

If you want to stop talking about strawmen, and talk to us, although I can't speak for everybody, that's the conventional wisdom around these parts, and it has been before the Iraqi war even started.

In short, if the War on Terrorism is uber-important (and although I don't like the "War on.." phrasing, it is and always has been important), then putting Iraq to the back burner to win the War on Terror should have happened.

In Blair's case, I think he's a nice enough guy, but he has absolutly no vision.

Posted by: Karmakin on September 11, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

After reading the entire speech, I was too tired (bored?) to read all of the comments in depth. But has anybody asked this question: Sure, Saddam was a bad guy. And, taken in isolation from all other issues, regime change would probably be a good idea. But, like most other people who never supported this war, I still wonder: was it even possible to do Iraq "right?" It seems to me that the factional divides that are now in bloody display every single day there, along with the overt anti-American and nascent jihadism that were also clearly part of Iraqi society, made a toppling of Saddam and an establishment of a stable, pro-western country impossible.

Which means that Saint Al, Kevin and Matt were all wrong from the getgo. Effecting political change through massive military force doesn not work. Period. It's time to get back to limiting the military's role to situations where there is a real, imminenet threat, or in cases where we are retaliating for an attack. I would also make an exception for potential genocide or humanitarian crises, if the force was under some form of international command and control.

How many thousands of American soldiers' lives, millions of innocent third world lives, and trillions of dollars have to be sacrificed learning what should be an obivous lesson in the Twenty-First Century?

I'll gladly vote for Al Gore if he runs, but this post shows nothing but how completely our politics is co-opted by the war industry.

Posted by: brewmn on September 11, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, I understand your frustration, but there are times when all of us refrain from calling a spade a spade because we know it would be counter-productive. In February 2002, the date of the speech, it would not have done any good for Gore to be harder in Bush in that forum. Thats the frustrating thing about politics, both personal and national. If you are Albert Einstein, you can afford to patiently state your case, argue the math, and wait for the world to see the light and agree that your theory is a better explanation and solves problems. If you are a politician trying to keep peoples attention long enough to persuade, you cant always beat them over the head with the truth or patiently wait for them to see the light.

The bottom line is that Gore would not have invaded Iraq for the same reason you would not have, i.e., Iraq was not a threat and the preponderance of evidence indicated he had little or no WMD. Why some people, like Jimbo who commented above, believed he did have WMD is the question.

Theres no need to over-complicate the issue. The Bush Administration was willing to push a canard, an untruth. There was no evidence that Iraq had significant WMD and they were not honest about this fact. They were deceitful about the aluminum tubes; they were deceitful with regard to the uranium from Africa. Deceitfulness about these concrete issues is what enabled them (Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, Blair) to take us to war.

Neither Gore nor Kevin Drum would engage in such deceit and neither of them would have taken us to war had they been President.


Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 11, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

B:

Good post. I absolutely agree that there's a foreign policy turf it's generally thought you can't play on unless you buy into a certain set of unquestioned assumptions. I'm not, nor have I ever been, "against" Gore (hell, I'd wish he'd throw his hat in the ring), and the speeches he's given under the aegis of MoveOn have all been solidly on the money. Didn't mean to snark at Gore quite so hard.

But I really do see Gore in that speech trying to make amends for his loss, and laboring under the weight of not appearing like a sore loser sewing division. It was, IIRC, the first major speech he gave since losing the election. So he's bending over backwards to avoid criticism of Bush at the very moment that Bush/Cheney is turning its attention to Iraq. I have a problem with that.

I don't believe that a concept as poisonous as "axis of evil" is redeemable by appending the wisdom of Rienhold Niebuhr. The very notion of "moral clarity" aimed for in such an appellation militates precisely against such wisdom. When even the best people shelter evil in their hearts, morality is anything but "clear."

There are simply too many "evil" regimes in the world for that term to parse for a troika of unrelated states. Labelling Iran "evil" is especially egregious, considering that it's the Muslim Mideast state most likely to drift towards our orbit once the generation born after the Iran/Iraq war starts to take its place in the power structure. North Korea is a cuccoo bird state, but a revanchist Hitlerian regime it isn't. And evil as doubtless Saddam and his henchmen were, the nation was well-contained and no ally of al Qaeda.

But yes, absolutely -- people like Howard Dean and Al Gore were dismissed as peaceniks, when it's quite clear their views are more complex than that, and decidedly pro-military. I think a reason for that -- beyond mere GOP spin -- is that the "morally clear" language of Bush cannot accomodate any kind of nuanced view. This is why it bugs me when I hear Gore straining so much to underline the point (bold! All caps!) that he's not antiwar. Underline away, Al. It won't make a difference.

TheThirdPaul.

I live in New Jersey. And it's spelled "narcissist." :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush Administration was willing to push a canard, an untruth.

That's not true but then neither is it worth discussion. You pretend to be politically astute in descibing Gore's situational limitations while totally ingnoring the political failure of the 'Bush Lied' crowd as was vividly displayed in the 2004 elections. Not only did GWB gain 23% more votes but he gained 5 Senate seats and a few house seats.

It's 2006 and you are obsessed over what was a failed argument 3 years ago. The MSM can no longer control the news. Today we're treated to the flim clips of Senator Rockerfeller, ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, stating definitively, "Iraq IS an IMMINENT danger"!!!

Liberals will gleefully accept the argurment put forth by their leadership in the Senate and House and supported by the MSM that Senators and House members are dolts and weaklings compared to the WH but sane America know they are a co-equal branch, unless they willfully choose not to be, and ALL 100 Senators had access to the same INTELLIGENCE. Either they are now lying about what they knew or they were intentionally ignorant and choose not to know.

The results of 2004 were due to the choice of the Senate libs a campaign solgan, "Vote for us, we're dumb and stupid".

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Gore is not and never has been anti-war. He is, however, opposed to foolish wars, and to wars conducted incompetently.

So am I. So is the rest of the Democratic Paty. That doesn't matter a whit to the propaganda robots of the GOP, though. Being opposed to foolish wars, and to wars conducted incompetently -- that is, Bush's wars -- is to be an anti-war hippie peacenik to the GOP's propaganda machine.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

Wooten, you're such a lying shitbag.

Senator Bob Graham was the ranking minority member on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He didn't vote for the IWR. He's made it quite plain that there are several tiers of intelligence briefings for the members of the House and Senate. It's customary for top-level classified stuff to be shared with only a handful of members on a need-to-know basis.

Rockefeller et al. were bamboozled.

Bob Graham was not. Bob Graham had deeper access to the intelligence.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean and Al Gore were dismissed as peaceniks, when it's quite clear their views are more complex than that,

Of course they are but so are GWB's. As you well know the 'game' is to label your opponent before they can label themselves. You play it very aggressively but not at all well.

Al Gore has become an intellectual among liberals while GWB remains as dumb as a post. That's an absolutely pitiful judgement. Al Gore is by far the least intellctual intellectual in History. He was very unsuccessful as a student training both Bush and Kerry in college marks AND aptitude tests while both Bush and kerry received post-graduate degrees.

Further almost all of Al's predictions on global warming have at best been wrong and in many cases silly. His current tour is viewed as assinine by most experts and projected to be a setback to the political cause with his over the top projections and admonitions.

Al Gore could easily win the Democratic nomination but could never win the Presidency. The man is a dick and you know he's a dick.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Towards that end, we must now expand our concept of what is needed to reach the goals upon which we all agree." Huh?

I hear a lot of contempt for "soundbites" here. Well, soundbites have some good points. For one thing, you can outright lie in a soundbite, but you can't sling barrels of bullshit in one.

Posted by: leroyboy on September 11, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

Correction! Bob Graham was the *chairman* of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time.

Hehe. That was after Jim Jeffords stabbed all you assholes in the back :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

That man would have been a good president.

Posted by: moderleft on September 11, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

> Al Gore is by far the least intellctual intellectual in History.

Wooten, you are the *last human being on earth* to ever
allow the word "intellectual" to crawl off your fingers.

Haha. What a douchebag.

Just, you know, keeping it on a level that you'll understand :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I recently heard a radio broadcast of Joe Biden speaking about foreign policy to the National Press Club on Sept. 7. Everything he said was right on the money; he absolutely nailed it. And then he comes to the end and says, "I'm not saying that George Bush is a bad guy, he's not really a bad President."

WTF? What is in the water down there in DC that keeps our politicians from speaking the plain truth? Is it the cocktail weenies?

Posted by: global yokel on September 11, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

That speech just made me feel sad for what we could have had. If Gore had won in Florida, I don't think we'd be in the mess we're in right now.

Posted by: Elrod on September 11, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh ... "Charles" and "tj" -- our "two" anti-semitic sock puppet friends!

Heh. Like it'd ever happen in a bazillion years that two unhinged anti-semites blithering code phrases that nobody but a StormWatch regular uses would show up on a center-left blog *at the same time*.

Go away, you jackass. And take your sock puppet with you.

Bo

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

"claire" -- ROTFL !

Yeah. Like there are *women* who share this hairy-palmed ideology.

But of course a sock puppeteer is going to have heavy-duty security issues, so one would expect him to have a few imaginary female friends, too :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Augustus is right. Unfortunately, Al Gore, as brilliant as he is, and John Kerry and HRC (and Michael Dukakis and George McGovern....) are collectively about as exciting as a graham cracker.

I can't link to the LA Times from work, but there is an excellent editorial in yesterday's edition by Alan Wolfe called "Wise Up, Voters" about cynicism in politics.

Posted by: J Bean on September 11, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

claire:

No questions, but a comment:

I don't believe you.

I don't believe that such a creature of domesticity as you claim yourself to be would use an insanely hyperbolic and ugly phrase like "Sobibor West." You learn stuff like that on hate sites like StormWatch. It is *not* a term of common discourse.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

If Gore had won in Florida,

He did. He just lost in the SCOTUS.

I don't think we'd be in the mess we're in right now.

Well, I'll flat out guarantee you Gore would not have ignored the August 6 2001 PDB.

Bush did. Today, especially, we're reminded of the results of his fecklessness.

Bush's incompetence, and the free pass morons like rdw give him for it, are why Americans won't trust the GOP on security matters for a generation.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Bob -- for the love of God, find something to do besides post on this blog day & nite. Get out of your rented room, look for at least a part time job, volunteer ... do something besides obsess about Washington Monthly for fifteen or twenty hours a day.

Posted by: Community Centre on September 11, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I actually heard that phrase at the Libertarian convention in Atlanta a few years back.

Like we needed another reason not to take you seriously.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to disagree with most of the people here, but this speech is extremely prescient considering that it was given less than six months after 9/11.

What is most clear to me is that a President Gore would have taken a hard look at Iraq, which is reasonable, and would have decided not to invade, because the evidence for war clearly crumbled with close scrutiny.

This is what a good leader does. If everyone is telling you Iraq is a threat, you have a responsibility to address the issue and be willing to go to war if necessary. You must also be willing to change course when the evidence fails to jibe with conventional wisdom. Gore was clearly willing to do both. Good for him.

Posted by: enozinho on September 11, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Community Centre":

I admire the courage of your convictions.

Claire:

Hearing it at a Lib convention sounds plausible. It is, however, hardly an apt phrase. Americans don't live in a concentration camp, let alone an extermination camp.

And no, Islamofascism isn't any more agreeable or apt, and along with Kevin and many others here, I argue against it at every turn.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Just, you know, keeping it on a level that you'll understand.

This is the best you can do? Let's face it, you have a talent for admiring dickheads. How is your boy Dean getting along with Chucky these days. According to the NYT's the congressional races in NYS are not going anywhere near as well as Dean has been promising and the key races will not be funded as well as expected.

Al Gore and Howard Dean are absolute horses asses. Al Gore is no more an intellectual than Madonna is a virgin. Please, Please, Please bring back that lying fool to run for President with Howard Dean heading the DNC.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

enozinho:

Being president is about more than speech rhetoric, and like you I have no doubt at all that Gore, were he president, would have done the right thing and not invaded Iraq.

I just didn't think he needed to buy into the "unique threat" rhetoric. Iraq was not a unique threat, considering our history in the Cold War.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure I understand what posting this speech is supposed to indicate. That Gore wasn't bashing Bush just a few months after 9/11? Of course, he wasn't. He, like everyone then, was supportive to one degree or another. Gore speaks of the need to confront the evil in the world, and the need for creating a permanent alliance. Surely he sees Saddam as a threat to be addressed. I don't think you can read his speech as a sign that he supported our invasion of Iraq, however.

Keep in mind the timeframe. The speech was about five months after 9/11, and more than a year before the Iraq war began.

I am sure there are other speeches that better demonstrate Gore's stand on the 2003 invasion. It's really unthinkable to me, however, that if Gore had been president that we'd have followed the same path.

After Saddam had flinched and let the weapons inspectors back in to do their jobs, does anyone think that Gore would have kicked the inspectors out and started a preemptive war?

In fact, if Bush had seized that historic moment and let the inspectors continue their work, if he could have proven to the world that Saddam was defanged and no longer the threat that he once was, Bush may rightly have been lauded for real statesmanship.

But the run-up to the war was not an exercise in diplomacy, we now know. It was simply a go-through-the-motions piece of fiction to allay the concerns of few interested parties before the pre-determined invasion was to begin.

Bush may well have done something heroic, but he didn't have it in him. Instead, he acted like a teenage boy. He was not satisfied with just outsmarting the bully Saddam, he wanted to whup his sorry ass.

Thus, George turned what may have been an historic victory into a terribly tragic defeat.

Perhaps the worst strategic blunder in the history of American foreign policy.

Posted by: JJF on September 11, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

he's vying with Giuliani to win the hearts and minds of Miami, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.

Charles nails it.

Posted by: Hostile on September 11, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative America, the conservative idea, the conservative world view must be completely and utterly destroyed if America is to rise again.

And you think a dickhead like Al Gore is up to that challenge? Slick Willie, the smartest man in the history of the universe, clearly wasn't up to that challenge althought he only lost 50 house sets. And you think Al Gore is your savior?

You're not stuck on stupid. That's unfair to stupid.

Conservatives rule the US and Australia and have extended their influence to Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Denmark and Eastern Europe. Your world is shrinking as it must. Liberals are in retreat everywhere except in Old Europe and the Northern USA and this is easily shown by a map of regional GDP. France and Michigan are screwed. Alas, the UK under Blair might be even worse. As good as his foreign policy was Tony's PB liberalism has been a total disaster. The UK has among the highest tax rates in the world as well as higher regulation and is now in danger of permanent economic distress.

It pains me to say this but the UK is looking into a PC abyss and we may have to cut them loose. It's to our great fortune, and GWBs brilliant diplomacy that Germany and Japan are preparing to remove the shakles of the post-WWII ear and regain their positions as one of the world top 3 military powers. The worlds 3 greatest democracies will also be the 3 greatest military powers. If you know anything for French, German and Japanese history you know only one of them carries the gene for appeasement.

And you think George is dumb.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

The results of 2004 were due to the choice of the Senate libs a campaign solgan, "Vote for us, we're dumb and stupid".
Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I don't understand your conservative triumphalism. What have all these GOP electoral victories accomplished? Squat. Niente. Zero. In fact it has been a net deficit and loss to all Americans, millionaires and bums alike.

Has there even been a Western government in the last 50 years more dissolute, wrong headed, blundering, mendacious, craven, selfish or destructive than the 2000 to 2006 GOP controlled America? Nope. Can't recall. Had some government's in the 70s that were economically unluckey but I can't remember a western nation persuing failure as dilligently as this one has. Failure on the economic front as the the middle sinks to its death. Failure on the foreign policy front as the GOP fails to get the terrorists and makes more ennemies for America every day. Failure on the fiscal front as the debts pile up. Failure on moral front as the GOP corrupts everything it touches. The environmental protection agency is in charge of facilitating pollution. FEMA is in charge of facilitating disasters. The SEC is looking for ways to allow the return of corporate fraud. Then there is the GOP congress. The chamber of peoples deputies indeed. Craven spinless man whores to the last. No piece of legislation goes without a rider or a friendly amendment for the donor of the hour. Banks not collecting enough on credit card debt, no problemo, here you go. Gun manufacturers want special liability protections, there you go, don't forget to fill us up with PAC money in 06. Whore whore whores And let us not forget the defense buget and the friends of Cheney. And then there are our so called religious leaders. Lowering man's understanding of the words of Christ since 1928. Fighting a windmill crusade against the scientific method. How exactly does this help our understanding of Jesus' message? Trying to coerce American women to birth all baby's instead of setting an example, or striving help mothers birth and raise their children. Making a fetish out of "life" by forcing a brain dead woman to stay alive on artificial life support. These men of religion make a mockery of life and all that is holy and good. They lust after power and lie down with mammon. What has America done to deserve leaders like these?

It all must be destroyed.
Conservative America, the conservative idea, the conservative world view must be completely and utterly destroyed if America is to rise again. Completely and utterly destroyed. No half measuers will do. They have made their ideas our world and ensnared us in their reality. We must break it utterly and completely.

Amen.

Posted by: Nemesis on September 11, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

"Charles" is an anti-semite sock puppet, and agreeing with him on anything just makes it more difficult to rationally criticize the Israeli government or our relationship with it.

He's Watcher Lite.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Correction! Bob Graham was the *chairman* of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time.

Hehe. That was after Jim Jeffords stabbed all you assholes in the back :)


Except there's no such thing as chairman of the intelligence committee. There are co-chairman with one from each party. This committee is balanced. There are no minorities or majorities.

HeHe.

That did Jim Jeffords and your party a lot of good didn't it? Then 9/11 happened and your party turned effete. They didn't stand against GWB on anything and they were rewarded by losing 5 Senate seats.

HeHe.

BTW: EVERY Senator has a top secret clearance and can get as much access as they ask for. Those Senators on the intelligence committee GET EVERYTHING the President gets. Many, like Kerry, don't bother to go to meetings.

Regarding Iraq every single Senator was invited to specifically designed presentations so they could get to see EVERYTHING the President had. Many didn't bother.

It's an insult to ones intelligence to suggest the Senate didn't have all of the information. They had access to everything. What they are doing makes perfect sense in a "woe is me I am victim PC ideology". You'll never hold them accountable for not doing their job.

Allow me to make this prediction. John Kerry and all of the other frauds claiming, "I was mislead" will again fail in the 2008 elections. Americans won't elect a cowards when their's an Int'l threat. Kerry may have served bravely in Nam but he's an intellectual coward. Anyone in the Senate who will stand there and say, "it's not my fault" is too pitiful to be President.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

conservatives will be uncomfortable seeing Gore as someone plainly more dedicated to waging a real fight against terrorism than the guy they've been supporting for the past five years.

You forget that Gore changed his campaign attire because consultants told him he was wearing the wrong colors to get elected. He changed so many of his deeply held convictions when he ceased to be the Senator from Tennessee that he demonstrated clearly that he was not dedicated to anything other than his electability.

Posted by: republicrat on September 11, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

THEY [Jews] CONTROL OUR electoral PROCESS

So do middle-class families, racists, farmers, Christians, unions, and corporate fatcats.

It's called a democracy.

Posted by: enozinho on September 11, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I understand your point, Bob. Thanks.

Posted by: Hostile on September 11, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat wrote: You forget that Gore changed his campaign attire because consultants told him he was wearing the wrong colors to get elected.

That's a lie. It's fake, phony, made-up, fiction, right-wing extremist propaganda. It never happened. It's just one more idiotic lie that you and your fellow brain-dead brownshirts like to repeat to yourselves over and over.

That's all you right-wingers do: lie to each other. What a pathetic lot you are.

Republicans: People Of The Lie.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Charles: We will continue to get suits like Kerry and a groveling Gore until we admit to, and remedy this stranglehold over our foreign policy.

that's sick. Nobody has a stranglehold on US foreign policy. Most Americans agree that defending democracy where it is established in the middle East is a worthy goal.

Posted by: republicrat on September 11, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing against Gore, but I think Clark showed more concrete solutions and prescience in his op-ed that came out only a few days after 9/11.

Wesley Clark
Saturday September 15, 2001

Guardian

America is indeed at war. The attacks in New York and Washington have raised the dangers posed by international terrorism to a new level. But despite the awful familiarity of the devastation, an effective US response is likely to be something unfamiliar.
For the US, the weapons of this war should be information, law enforcement and, rarely, active military force. The coalition that will form around the US and its Nato allies should agree on its intent, but not trumpet its plans. No vast military deployments should be anticipated. But urgent measures should be taken behind the scenes because the populations and economic structures of western nations will be at risk.

And the American public will have to grasp a new approach to warfare. Our objective should be neither revenge nor retaliation, though we will achieve both. Rather, we must systematically target and destroy the complex network of international terrorism. The aim should be to attack not buildings but people who have masterminded, coordinated, supported and executed these and other attacks. I can hear warnings to us to narrow our objectives because the task is so difficult, warnings there may be failures and actions that can never be acknowledged. But now all must accept at face value the terrorists' unwavering hostility to the US and all that it stands for. There is no room for half-measures in our response.

Our methods should rely first on domestic and international law, and the support and active participation of our friends and allies. Evidence must be collected, networks uncovered and a faceless threat given identity. In some cases, astute police work will win the day, here and abroad. In others, international collaboration may be necessary. Special military forces may be called on to operate in states that are uncooperative or unable to control their own territory. In exceptional cases, targets will be developed that may be handled by conventional military strikes.

But this will be mostly arduous, detailed and often covert work to track, detain or engage and take down adversaries, rolling them up cell by cell and headquarters by headquarters. These networks may well have state sponsorship. And here, more intense, visible action, involving not only strikes but also substantial ground action, may be required to gain the surrender of hostile governments or the end of their support for terrorists. But we should not underestimate the overpowering impact of a determined America and its allies in forcing pre-emptive changes in previously uncooperative states.

Some will call for full disclosure and near-legal standards of evidence before acting. Others will arm a hair trigger, seeking to use the most readily available information, even if scant. But we must not pose legality and expediency as opposite extremes. To be expedient, we must act within the bounds of international law consistent with consensus among the emerging allied coalition. Maintaining this consensus will be one of the prime challenges we face.

A second key challenge is to recognise that we are in an action-reaction struggle with a capable and competent adversary. Almost certainly there are other gambits in preparation to be used against us. When they are unable to hide, terrorists may be even more willing to strike. More horrifying scenarios than those of this week are easily imaginable. We must strengthen our protective measures at airports, at utilities and public service facilities, such as communications networks, and prepare necessary public health and disease control capabilities for the possibility of nuclear and biological events.

And if we are successful in preventing further attacks, the other great challenge will be to maintain our resolve. If these attacks were the second Pearl Harbour, then it will take more than a second Doolittle raid [US air attack on Japan] to win this war. Months and years may be required. But we should remember that sight in downtown Manhattan, and another at the Pentagon, the morning of September 11, and resolve that it shall never, ever happen again. We should renew our resolve during every inconvenience at an airport and every impediment to our activities.

For a decade the US has periodically declared that its top priority, or one of its top priorities, is to protect its people against international terrorism. In hindsight, it is clear that a well-intentioned defence wasn't enough. This is a problem that now requires more active measures and a commitment to eliminate terrorism as a threat. And it requires an old concept, decisive force, but defined and used in a new kind of war.

Wesley Clark is former supreme allied commander in Europe and author of Waging Modern War

Posted by: catherineD on September 11, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

GOP:

And the first thing wrong with yours is to quote a phrase completely out of context.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 11, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Al Gore: Above all, I learned that our engagement with others on behalf of common values is something that must be of profound intent, and of long duration. It isn't enough to destroy what is evil, and then seek to leave by the nearest door. We must make the commitment to work with those whom we have rescued until they can stand on their own feet.

I guess this means he's against 'cut and run' in Iraq.

Posted by: Steve White on September 11, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry neither Matt Yglesias nor Al Gore were more clear-thinking four years ago. (Or lapdog Tony himself, for that matter.)

Any idiot without any imperialist bones in his or her bodies could tell well in 2002 that Hussein had no connection w/al Qaeda. And, that Hussein had at least not given visible signs of rearming.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 11, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Al will savef us from ourselves??? Give me a break. It was him and Clinton who let Osama get away. And lets debunk that "global warming" scare tactic. It just doesnot' cut it any more. Even most scientists cant agree. Why should we listen to him?

Posted by: Paul the Cynic on September 11, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

You gotta check out Condi on Fox last sunday trying to lie about her allegations that al Queda was involved with Saddam. Chris wallace actually calls her on her lies and it is great while it lasts, till Condi slips away by changing the subject and its smiles all around as usual.

What is happening here is that past statements by Condi, Bush and cheney are being juxtaposed against the recent Senate Intelligence Committee Report saying that Saddam was not involved with Zarquawi and in fact was trying to capture him.

Condi came back by saying see, the report says Saddam was trying to find Zarquawi, as if he wanted to find him to strike some kind of deal. But the report says Saddam wanted to find him and capture him. They were enemies not friends and the entire republican group-mind goes into total denial meltdown when presented with that information.

We need to keep pointing it out. If even Fox and Blitzer can figure this out, maybe the public can too.

Posted by: Pablo on September 11, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Palbo,

You are fighting yesterdays war. It does not matter. The 'Bush lied' theme was a political disaster and it's over. GWB can't run again. Get over it. Move on!

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

I dont think there is ever a bad time to point out when your president is lying to you. If you don't mind that is unfortunate. Join the crowd. Not many people do.

As far as GWB not running again. So what. GWB is a republican, supported by republicans and any republican running who supported him or remained silent while he helped destroy America should be held accountable and linked with GWB.

Posted by: Pablo on September 11, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

I dont think there is ever a bad time to point out when your president is lying to you. If you don't mind that is unfortunate. Join the crowd. Not many people do.

As far as GWB not running again. So what. GWB is a republican, supported by republicans and any republican running who supported him or remained silent while he helped destroy America should be held accountable and linked with GWB.

Posted by: Pablo on September 11, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

catherineD,

Wesley has already proven he's not a very good candidate which was not a surpise. He wasn't a very good General. As David Haversham has already reported his Defense Secretary fired him in a brilliant tactical even outfoxed the worlds smartest President. When Cohen got Clinton to approve Clarks replacement, well before Clark was scheduled to be replaced, he was shrewd to make an immediate announcment. When Clark found out it was too late. Clark knew immediately Cohen didn't have a job for him and he was being 'retired'. Both Clark and Clinton quickly realized they were outsmarted by a better man. Of course Clinton could have rescinded his order but that would have admitted he made a mistake and Slick Willie wasn't about to do that.

Get over Wesley. He has no prayer.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK
He wasn't a very good General. ...: rdw at 8:33 PM
There is no one that any Republican will not smear&lie about. Clarke was an excellent general who won a war without losing a man. Not only is he an excellent general hes a man who speaks his mind.

http://wesleyclark.h1.ru/departure.htm

Pentagon insiders say Clark's frequent and public complaint that politicians had tied his hands during the Kosovo war irked his boss, Defense Secretary William Cohen. Cohen reportedly also was none too pleased that Clark's aides called him "Senator Cohen," a mocking reference to his past as an elected official. The bottom line, says one Pentagon official: "You don't piss off your boss and get away with it."

Its too bad we dont have anyone in Iraq who knows not only how to win, but who wont take any guff from fools like Rummy and Cheney.

Posted by: Mike on September 11, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

There is no one that any Republican will not smear&lie about. Clarke was an excellent general who won a war without losing a man. Not only is he an excellent general hes a man who speaks his mind.

There are many I never smear; GWB, Cheney, Rummy, etc. Wesley was a political hack selected by Clinton for the same reason as his other Generals. Except Wesley was in fact fired and if you have a problem with that take it up with David Haversham.

Leave it to desperate libs to tout Kosovo as their great military accomplishment. Except it wasn't a war. War's are not fought at 30,000 feet without armies and without casualties. Kosovo was a video game and prime example of the pathetic power held by Europe. It was an event totally designed and executed by the Air Force and if you had a clue you'd know Wesley wasn't Air Force.

BTW: Cohen's problem wasn't Wesleys whining but his grandstanding. It's rather amazing you don't think generals should listen to their civilian bosses. Are you trying to explain the chaos and disfunction of Clintons Pentagon team? Too late. That's been done by many more talented than you.

BTW2: You've noticed by now Rummy and Cheney don't get any guff from their generals. It took Rummy about 3 weeks to identify the politicians in the staff appointed by Clinton and get rid of them. Your beloved Shinseki is but one example. You've also noticed Rummy's Generals don't grandstand or bypass their bosses.

Poor Wesley. He's not getting elected with that name anyway.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

As far as GWB not running again. So what. GWB is a republican, supported by republicans and any republican running who supported him or remained silent while he helped destroy America should be held accountable and linked with GWB.

By all meams link away. You hammered this theme all through the 2004 election cycle and got your heads handed to you. You will get it handed to you again fool. Anger is not a plan. Hatred is not a plan. GWB took your hatred and increased his vote totals by 23% for the best mid-term election performance in 1936.

I am glad to say I did not remain silent. I was cheering him along the entire way. Do you know union membership is down over 20% durnig his term? Do you know the major daily's have lost over 15% of their subscribership and that great liberal flagship the New York Times has had 4 layoffs and seen it's stock fall 60%. The 3 networks have also seen significant slides in their viewership. In addition the hallowing out of the US auto industry, cheared on by liberal icons such as Thomas L Freidman has devastated the blue north directly transferring well over 100,000 union jobs to the South.

I think it's safe to say GWB has been a total disaster for libs. There will be a great deal more suffering after the 2010 census when another 7 to 10 electoral votes move from blue states to red. Liberals get angry. GWB gets even.

And you think Clinton was the smart one.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

No reason to dignify rdw with a reply.

Here's a transcript of Clark's podcast today:

General Wesley K. Clark:

September 11, 2001. Do you remember where you were that fateful morning in America?

Of course. We'll never forget it.

I was on the way to work. I tried to make a telephone call on my cell phone and couldn't get through to someone in New York and was convinced it was my cell phone's failure. I wish it had been.

But now it's five years after September 11th. Did you ever imagine where five years later we might be?

Let's look at the facts. Five years after 9/11 Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. There are two and a half times more terrorists affiliated with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization now than there were in 2001. The incidents of terrorism, inspired or orchestrated or otherwise supported by Osama bin Laden and his faction have increased around the world. Including, still threats directed against the United States of America. Including one broken up only a month or so ago that would have taken down 10 airliners in flight over the North Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the worst people are getting the worst weapons. North Korea, which stalled its nuclear program under the Clinton Administration, has now moved ahead to reprocess its spent uranium fuel, probably has 8 to 10 nuclear weapons as a result.

Iran, is apparently moving to produce highly enriched uranium, as well as, the heavy water required to generate fissile material in another path toward nuclear weapons.

And in Iraq, it was an invasion that didn't have to be made as the Senate study released on the 7th of September acknowledged. There was no linkage between Saddam Hussein and the events of 9/11. And so, having gone unnecessarily to war, we now find ourselves three and a half years later fully engaged - 140,00 American ground troops. Air power in the region. The Army and Marine Corps over-stretched. Iraq sliding into civil war. Effort after effort made to put a government together. The neighbors involved. Threats of disintegration of Iraq. A recruiting ground for Al Qaeda. We're creating more terrorists than we're eliminating.

Could we have possibly imagined five years ago, that we would have done so poorly?

Well the truth is, yes! We did imagine it, because right after 9/11 we saw all the indicators of an administration that was tragically mistaken in the way it approached national security, and mixed national security with politics. Its approach to national security was colored by the "Project for a New American Century" and some prejudices brought in by Administration members from a time far distant in the evolution of the Post-Cold War world. A determination to smash regimes by force in the Middle East. And a determination to strike governments rather than go after terrorists organizations themselves.

Yes, we saw that. We saw it in the refusal to deal with the terrorists before 9/11 and the president's dereliction of duty. We saw it afterwards in the hasty decision to invade Iraq no matter what. And I saw it when I went through the Pentagon in November of 2001 when a senior officer waved a memo in front of me that purported to explain the administration's plans to take down, first Iraq, then Syria, then Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and then go after Iran - all in five years.

Yes, we could have imagined that all this was going to fail. We just didn't know how badly or what the tragic consequences would be. Now it's becoming increasingly clear.

Al Qaeda is not being defeated despite the fact that some of its identified leadership has been taken out. Its actually grown stronger.

The war in Iraq rumbles on consuming our armed forces, distracting American leadership from more important tasks at hand. And that so called "Axis of Evil" which the president couldn't wait to spring on the American people in his 2002 address. Well, they're more than ever working together to get precisely the weapons which the president promised he wouldn't allow to happen.

We shouldn't have been surprised. And that's why I'm asking you, on this 5th Anniversary, to think about the future of this country.

All that we could be.

All that we stand for.

All that others have aspired to, is on the line in America, in our political system.

We believed in right, not might.

We believe that international law was inevitable for the future.

We believed that we had to work with neighbors.

We believed that we had to make more friends than enemies.

We believed we should reinforce those that share our values.

We never believed that we should impose our values on others.

Start war where it wasn't necessary.

Alienate friends by bombastic rhetoric.

Ignore allies.

And seek only our self-interests in the world.

I think there are two clear paths ahead. This nation can listen to the dictates of fear and hubris as the administration alternately ignores Al Qaeda and then trumpets their success. Alternately brags about success in Iraq and then ignores it, and all the while beats the tom-toms for war with Iran.

Yes, our country could slide that way if we listen to the dictates of fear. But we have nothing to fear in this country. We're still the greatest power in the world. And we can be the greatest force of good in the world. And we can keep ourselves safe.

I'd like us to resolve on this 5th Anniversary of 9/11, that we as Americans no longer need live in fear. We should live in determination that we'll protect ourselves. Support our friends and allies around the world. Work together to solve the common problems that face mankind. And above all, we'll make sure that at home that we never sacrifice the liberties and rights that define our country. Even in an effort to protect ourselves.

We can have it all. We can do it all.

We just have to be courageous and face the facts as they are and work for the future as we want it to be.

Thank you.

Posted by: catherineD on September 11, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

We just have to be courageous and face the facts as they are and work for the future as we want it to be.

Thank you.

Let it to Wesley to try to take partisan political advantage on the anniversary of 9/11. No class to go with his no chance.

Posted by: rdw on September 11, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Gore was quite impressive on Australian TV last night, using the terms 'petrol' and 'cyclone' without skipping a beat. He made the incumbent seem like a Neanderthal by comparison.

Posted by: Johnno on September 12, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

johnno,

Quite impressive indeed. Too bad he wasn't impressive when it mattered or he would not have been in Australia last night. But that's Al. Always a day late and a dollar short.

Posted by: rdw on September 12, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

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