Monday, September 11, 2006

Once again, linear time matters

Kevin Drum writes:
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...
But I don't see why any liberal should have a hard time with this speech. Why? Well, two things. One, the speech was made on February 12, 2002. Pre-inspection, pre-crappy UN presentation, pre-election campaign. Gore is supporting a theoretical war against a country who he believed presented a threat to the United States. Fine. But far more important is this caveat that Gore adds:
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.
Rather than conflicting with my views of Gore as a "prophet", those words fit quite nicely. This is especially so given that we know that Gore came to oppose the war, despite originally supporting it (in theory.) Gore saw early the disaster that the neoconservatives' theories about war were going to create, and warned against it. Finally, when the inspections revealed there was no WMD threat, Gore publicly broke with this administration.

A President who changes his mind with the evidence? Unthinkable, I know.

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