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The Rhetorical Gore

by JOSHUA FRANK

Al Gore has become somewhat of an American idol this past few years. After his departure from Washington in 2000 the ex-presidential candidate has switch-backed across the county giving thundering sermons to over-flowing auditoriums and town halls. He’s railed against the Republican agenda in Iraq, denouncing President Bush and the neocons at every turn. Gore is fast becoming the antiwar celebrity du jour, capturing the imaginations of many who fear the vicious Bush cartel.

“Normally, we Americans lay the facts on the table, talk through the choices before us and make a decision. But that didn’t really happen with this war — not the way it should have,” Gore remarked in a MoveOn.org sponsored lecture at NYU in August, 2003. “[A]s a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price, for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments, and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm’s way.”

Some believe Gore has always been a beacon of hope, alleging it’s just too darn bad the 2000 election was stolen (or sabotaged by Ralph Nader) right out from under him. We wouldn’t be in Iraq today, they claim — for this war on terror is purely a Republican crusade that would have never occurred under a Democratic administration, especially if Gore was at the helm.

Or, so they say.

Despite all the lofty rhetoric, Al Gore’s record on Iraq is anything but dovish. During the autumn of 1998 Gore pressured President Clinton’s advisors to embrace Operation Desert Fox, and they eventually they did. From December 16 to the 18 of the same year, Iraq was ravaged with US bombs and cruise missiles. Hundreds of sites were hit. The goal was to diminish Saddam Hussein’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, with the hope that weakening his military capacity would lead to his demise. It didn’t work and Saddam only became more entrenched. Iraqi officials confirmed 100s of injuries and dozens of civilian deaths. The Vice President’s endorsed bombing wasn’t the only killer in Iraq; Gore also embraced the horrific UN sanctions, which accounted for at least a half a million deaths, mostly poor women and children.

Al Gore was certainly no peacenik during his days as serving under Bill Clinton. He supported NATO’s intervention in Bosnia and bombing of the Sudan. Up until George W. Bush’s Iraq invasion Gore was even delivering stump speeches highlighting Saddam’s potential threat.

“Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter,” Gore said on September 23, 2002. “[W]e should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”

It may be comforting for some to think Al Gore’s has had a change of heart on Iraq. But Gore will still not delve into any of the deeper issues that influence US foreign policy. As the Bushites shift their wanton attention to Iran, Gore remains unwilling and unable to recognize one of the primary perpetrators of another war in the region: Israel.

During a talk at the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia last week, Al Gore pontificated about US policy in the Middle East. When pressed by the largely Saudi audience as to whether or not America’s allegiance to Israel was heightening the chance of a war on Iran, Gore remained evasive. “We can’t solve that long [Palestine/Israel] conflict in exchanges here,” he said.

In other words, he won’t go there.

Al Gore also complained of Middle Eastern countries (aside from Israel, of course) not taking the Iran nuclear threat seriously enough. “Is it only for the West to say this is dangerous?” Gore asked. “We should have more people in this region saying this is dangerous.”

Perhaps the real danger is in believing that Mr. Gore’s wishy-washy attitudes on war deserve the praise and admiration of all those who oppose the occupation of Iraq and a potential war on Iran. History is not on his side — no matter what he conveys to his liberal audiences.

JOSHUA FRANK edits the radical news blog www.BrickBurner.org and is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, published by Common Courage Press (2005). Josh can be reached at BrickBurner@gmail.com.

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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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