Al Gore: Drive for Global Domination Puts US in Greater Danger
Comment by Larry Ross, May 26, 2007
This is a great speech by Al Gore who won the popular vote for US President in 2,000 and should have been declared President.
There would have been no Iraq war, and no plans for war on Iran or other states. The terrorist threat would have been dealt with in far different and much more effective ways by co-operating with other governments, and their police to catch and punish the genuine terrorists. The enormously wasteful war expenditures would be non-existent. There would be no threat to the American people or Constitution from a power-mad Administration taking away American civil liberties while it is "trying to impose global domination" according to Al Gore.
I think if Gore ran for President in 2008, he would win many more votes than in 2000 and end up as US President. No other acceptable Democratic candidate could expect to come close to the majority Gore would get.
A Drive for Global Domination Has Put Us in Greater Danger
by Al Gore, The Guardian UK, May 24,2007
Moral authority, which is our greatest source of strength, has been recklessly put at risk by this wilful president.
The pursuit of "dominance" in foreign policy led the Bush administration to ignore the UN, to do serious damage to our most important alliances, to violate international law, and to cultivate the hatred and contempt of many in the rest of the world. The seductive appeal of exercising unconstrained unilateral power led this president to interpret his powers under the constitution in a way that brought to life the worst nightmare of the founders. Any policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates enemies for the US and recruits for al-Qaida, but also undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating terrorists who wish to harm and intimidate America. Instead of "dominance", we should be seeking pre-eminence in a world where nations respect us and seek to follow our leadership and adopt our values.
With the blatant failure by the government to respect the rule of law, we face a great challenge in restoring America's moral authority in the world. Our moral authority is our greatest source of strength. It is our moral authority that has been recklessly put at risk by the cheap calculations of this wilful president.
The Bush administration's objective of attempting to establish US domination over any potential adversary was what led to the hubristic, tragic miscalculation of the Iraq war - a painful misadventure marked by one disaster after another, based on one mistaken assumption after another. But the people who paid the price have been the American men and women in uniform trapped over there, and the Iraqis themselves. At the level of our relations with the rest of the world, the administration has willingly traded respect for the US in favour of fear. That was the real meaning of "shock and awe". This administration has coupled its theory of US dominance with a doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, regardless of whether the threat to be pre-empted is imminent or not.
The doctrine is presented in open-ended terms, which means that Iraq is not necessarily the last application. In fact, the very logic of the concept suggests a string of military engagements against a succession of sovereign states - Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran - but the implication is that wherever the combination exists of an interest in weapons of mass destruction together with an ongoing role as host to, or participant in, terrorist operations, the doctrine will apply. It also means that the Iraq resolution created the precedent for pre-emptive action anywhere, whenever this or any future president decides that it is time. The risks of this doctrine stretch far beyond the disaster in Iraq. The policy affects the basic relationship between the US and the rest of the world. Article 51 of the UN charter recognises the right of any nation to defend itself, including the right to take pre-emptive action in order to deal with imminent threats.
By now, the administration may have begun to realise that national and international cohesion are indeed strategic assets. But it is a lesson long delayed and clearly not uniformly and consistently accepted by senior members of the cabinet. From the outset, the administration has operated in a manner calculated to please the portion of its base that occupies the far right, at the expense of solidarity among all Americans and between our country and our allies. The gross violations of human rights authorised by Bush at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and dozens of other locations around the world, have seriously damaged US moral authority and delegitimised US efforts to continue promoting human rights.
President Bush offered a brief and halfhearted apology to the Arab world, but he should make amends to the American people for abandoning the Geneva conventions, and to the US forces for sending troops into harm's way while ignoring the best advice of their commanders. Perhaps most importantly, he owes an explanation to all those men and women throughout our world who have held high the ideal of the US as a shining goal to inspire their own efforts to bring about justice and the rule of law.
Most Americans have tended to give the Bush-Cheney administration the benefit of the doubt when it comes to its failure to take action in advance of 9/11 to guard against an attack. Hindsight casts a harsh light on mistakes that should have been visible at the time they were made. But now, years later, with the benefit of investigations that have been made public, it is no longer clear that the administration deserves this act of political grace from the American people. It is useful and important to examine the warnings the administration ignored - not to point the finger of blame, but to better determine how our country can avoid such mistakes in the future. When leaders are not held accountable for serious mistakes, they and their successors are more likely to repeat those mistakes.
Part of the explanation for the increased difficulty in gaining cooperation in fighting terrorism is Bush's attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation that disagrees with him. He has exposed Americans abroad and in the US to a greater danger of attack because of his arrogance and wilfulness, in particular his insistence upon stirring up a hornet's nest in Iraq. Compounding the problem, he has regularly insulted the religion, the culture and the tradition of people in countries throughout the Muslim world.
The unpleasant truth is that Bush's failed policies in both Iraq and Afghanistan have made the world a far more dangerous place. Our friends in the Middle East, including most prominently Israel, have been placed in greater danger because of the policy blunders and sheer incompetence with which the civilian Pentagon officials have conducted this war.
We as Americans should have "known then what we know now"- not only about the invasion of Iraq but also about the climate crisis; what would happen if the levees failed to protect New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; and about many other fateful choices that have been made on the basis of flawed, and even outright false, information. We could and should have known, because the information was readily available. We should have known years ago about the potential for a global HIV/Aids pandemic. But the larger explanation for this crisis in American decision-making is that reason itself is playing a diminished, less respected, role in our national conversation.
Al Gore is a former US vice-president; this is an edited extract from his new book, The Assault on Reason, published this week by Bloomsbury.
Gore's "Assault" Makes His Case for an Open Market of Ideas
by Jim Sleeper, The Boston Globe, May 23, 2007
Lots of former Bush boosters have been in damage-control mode ever since the spotlights of "shock and awe" that they focused on Iraqis and American liberals began turning back on them. Some even associate themselves retroactively with the early war skepticism and genuine contrition of William F. Buckley Jr., who wrote recently, "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the [Iraq] war."
Al Gore is having none of it. In his new work, "The Assault on Reason," he quotes Buckley's confession and answers, "One of the central points of this book is that we as Americans should have 'known then what we know now' - not only about ... Iraq but also about the climate crisis, and what would happen if the levees failed to protect New Orleans ... and about many other fateful choices that have been made on the basis of flawed and even outright false information."
Gore insists that Bush boosters, especially, had every reason to know but made reason itself their enemy. And they intimidated us "as Americans" out of our civic-republican capacity to work up sound public intelligence through open communication, disciplined inquiry, and the self-confidence not to jump to conclusions.
While the pre-Bush past wasn't quite as Periclean as Gore implies, he's right that it's "simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse." Something has changed for the worse, and Gore names not William Kristol or Rupert Murdoch, but viruses they carry that are weakening our "immune system" against sound-bite alarmism.
The most virulent of these, he thinks, is "corporate consolidation and control over the marketplace of ideas," which diminish entrepreneurial and democratic freedoms by monopolizing the electronic media, whose relentless, ever-more-intimate intrusions are turning us from active citizens into passive consumers, sapping our disposition and skill to govern ourselves.
Gore isn't remotely conspiratorial or anticapitalist about this, as some may claim. He revives analyses of the public sphere by Walter Lippmann, Marshall McLuhan, and Jürgen Habermas to show how TV's one-directional image-making stimulates impulsiveness over reflection. Print's "meaningless" symbols make you think; repetitively violent TV imagery does the opposite, leaving a mental "vacuum ... filled by fear, superstition, ideology, deception, intolerance, and obsessive secrecy."
Recent books by columnist Frank Rich and psychologist Drew Westin cover parts of this ground well, but what public leader has synthesized such material to reach out to us ? Gore taps James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, political theory, new technology, and cognitive and developmental psychology to blame the "withdrawal of reason from the public sphere" on profit-crazed disruptions of what should be the mutually reinforcing openness of free markets and democratic communication. He notes that Internet openness is reviving the mental stimulation of reading and writing, and its interactivity is reviving Revolutionary-era pamphleteering, generating new "committees of correspondence" and strengthening a "meritocracy of ideas" instead of letting conglomerates corner the "marketplace of ideas."
Some damage-controllers will sniff that Gore is naive and that, anyway, politics isn't ultimately about reason. But Gore's faith in human nature is braver and sharper than theirs. And he was prescient about the Internet's importance, even if he exaggerated his presence at its creation. This book isn't about him; it's about the republic whose freedoms depend on increasing reasoned debate and reducing intimidating noise. He's betting that democratic interactivity, not bombastic ideology, can strengthen the public immune system to support choices smarter and tougher than gas-guzzling convenience and what's viewed by many as a useless, spectator war.
If Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama stumbles, Gore may run. He won the popular vote in 2000, after all; he foresaw the threats to communication, climate, and our diplomatic credibility; and his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," showcased a leader who's grown (although in one way too many for the image-driven media he scorns ).
But this isn't a campaign book or another venture in teaching and advocacy. It's a deep public remonstrance, inspired a little by Tom Paine's "Common Sense," which combined anger at King George III in his day with larger arguments that the institution of monarchy itself had become a threat to our liberties.
Gore is no Paine, but he argues persuasively that Bush's tenure is no longer a constitutional presidency. The book is part polemic, part impeachment in hard covers. Let the TV blowhards who will claim it's ponderous prove they can do better by turning Gore's harsh charges into hard questions for the would-be presidents who are assaulting us - and reason - with televised body language and cheap slogans.
The Assault on Reason by Al Gore, Penguin, 308 pp., $25.95.
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