portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war

Al Gore protests Bush's War

I've written 50 words on why I think Al Gore's speech is important. I include a link to a transcript of the entire speech and I excerpt some key paragraphs of Gore's critique of Bush's plans for war.
Today (09/23/02) in San Francisco the winner of the 2002 American presidential election, Al Gore, delivered a thought provoking critique of Bush's war. Here is a link to a transcript of the complete speech:


Below is an excerpt of a few of Gore's key points. I realize that many here will find much to criticize in Gore's statement of opposition to Bush's plans for war. Criticism is good. Dismissal of a protest this significant is another matter. I believe that if really you want an anti-war movement you must recognize the necessity of bringing together a diverse coalition opposed to Bush's mad rush to war. I think that Gore's point that the war on Iraq sabotages the war against terrorism is a brilliant way to turn the mind's of mainstream politicians against Bush's rush to war. And Gore is not preaching to the converted, but to the vast numbers of Americans who are confused and uncertain about what should be America's role in the post-9/11 world.

[Below is an excerpt of Gore's speech -- breaks in the text are always between parapraphs and are indicated by ...... ]

Iraq and the War On Terrorism

By Al Gore

Like all Americans I have been wrestling with the question of what our country needs to do to defend itself from the kind of intense, focused and enabled hatred that brought about September 11th, and which at this moment must be presumed to be gathering force for yet another attack. I'm speaking today in an effort to recommend a specific course of action for our country which I believe would be preferable to the course recommended by President Bush. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.

To begin with, I believe we should focus our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than predicted. Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another.


Far more damaging, however, is the Administration's attack on fundamental constitutional rights. The idea that an American citizen can be imprisoned without recourse to judicial process or remedies, and that this can be done on the say-so of the President or those acting in his name, is beyond the pale.

Regarding other countries, the Administration's disdain for the views of others is well documented and need not be reviewed here. It is more important to note the consequences of an emerging national strategy that not only celebrates American strengths, but appears to be glorifying the notion of dominance. If what America represents to the world is leadership in a commonwealth of equals, then our friends are legion; if what we represent to the world is empire, then it is our enemies who will be legion.

At this fateful juncture in our history it is vital that we see clearly who are our enemies, and that we deal with them. It is also important, however, that in the process we preserve not only ourselves as individuals, but our nature as a people dedicated to the rule of law.


I believe, therefore, that the resolution that the President has asked Congress to pass is much too broad in the authorities it grants, and needs to be narrowed. The President should be authorized to take action to deal with Saddam Hussein as being in material breach of the terms of the truce and therefore a continuing threat to the security of the region. To this should be added that his continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially a threat to the vital interests of the United States. But Congress should also urge the President to make every effort to obtain a fresh demand from the Security Council for prompt, unconditional compliance by Iraq within a definite period of time. If the Council will not provide such language, then other choices remain open, but in any event the President should be urged to take the time to assemble the broadest possible international support for his course of action. Anticipating that the President will still move toward unilateral action, the Congress should establish now what the administration's thinking is regarding the aftermath of a US attack for the purpose of regime change.

Specifically, Congress should establish why the president believes that unilateral action will not severely damage the fight against terrorist networks, and that preparations are in place to deal with the effects of chemical and biological attacks against our allies, our forces in the field, and even the home-front. The resolution should also require commitments from the President that action in Iraq will not be permitted to distract from continuing and improving work to reconstruct Afghanistan, an that the United States will commit to stay the course for the reconstruction of Iraq.
The Congressional resolution should make explicitly clear that authorities for taking these actions are to be presented as derivatives from existing Security Council resolutions and from international law: not requiring any formal new doctrine of pre-emption, which remains to be discussed subsequently in view of its gravity.

Last week President Bush added a troubling new element to this debate by proposing a broad new strategic doctrine that goes far beyond issues related to Iraq and would effect the basic relationship between the United States and the rest of the world community. Article 51 of the United Nations charter recognizes the right of any nation to defend itself, including the right in some circumstances to take pre-emptive actions in order to deal with imminent threats. President Bush now asserts that we will take pre-emptive action even if we take the threat we perceive is not imminent. If other nations assert the same right then the rule of law will quickly be replaced by the reign of fear - any nation that perceives circumstances that could eventually lead to an imminent threat would be justified under this approach in taking military action against another nation. An unspoken part of this new doctrine appears to be that we claim this right for ourselves - and only for ourselves. It is, in that sense, part of a broader strategy to replace ideas like deterrence and containment with what some in the administration "dominance."

This is because President Bush is presenting us with a proposition that contains within itself one of the most fateful decisions in our history: a decision to abandon what we have thought was America's mission in the world - a world in which nations are guided by a common ethic codified in the form of international law -- if we want to survive.


[concluding paragraph]

At the same time, the concept of pre-emption is accessible to other countries. There are plenty of potential imitators: India/Pakistan; China/Taiwan; not to forget Israel/Iraq or Israel/Iran. Russia has already cited it in anticipation of a possible military push into Georgia, on grounds that this state has not done enough to block the operations of Chechen rebels. What this doctrine does is to destroy the goal of a world in which states consider themselves subject to law, particularly in the matter of standards for the use of violence against each other. That concept would be displaced by the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.
I believe that we can effectively defend ourselves abroad and at home without dimming our principles. Indeed, I believe that our success in defending ourselves depends precisely on not giving up what we stand for.

homepage: homepage: http://www.rivertext.com/stuff.html

link to transcript of actual Gore speech 23.Sep.2002 21:35


The link and the excerpts I offered previously were to the prepared text of the speech. The link below is to a reporter's transcription. It has a little more life. In about 24 hours I'd guess CSPAN and  http://www.algore04.com/ will have the video.


al whore 24.Sep.2002 07:40


He finally has something to say over a year later? Gee, how brave! I'm sure his pollsters had him wait until the numbers began turning against Bush and his latest imperialist escapade. It proves once again just how spineless and equivocating the Democrats are. "Republicrats" indeed.

Finally 24.Sep.2002 09:41


Someone with courage from the Dems have spoken out. Now at least there's a possibility that a credible antiwar movement is developing. Please let's stop dissing one another and start getting organized!

What? 24.Sep.2002 10:40

Anti-American Intervention

How is Gore saying we should go back and fight more
in Afgahnistan instead of attacking Iraq apposing war?!

This is the same old neoliberal crap!

Finally what? 24.Sep.2002 10:45

Jack Straw

Finally what? Gore attacks Bush for not getting some token international support before attacking Iraq, compares Saddam to Jesse James and admonishes Bush for not gathering a *posse* before going after him (like the US is the world's cop?), and asserts an attack on Iraq is bad because it will divert the US from its righteous "war on terrorism" and impede the US's ability to "lead the world". This is simply setting up a false debate which assumes US imperial prerogatives. The fact that "activists" are so eager to jump for joy is further indication of the dismal state of the Left and any opposition in the US. This is really outrageous.

Jack Straw is right 24.Sep.2002 16:19


Gore is saying that Congress should authorize "action" against Iraq, and that if the Security Council doesn't authorize the US can still act unilaterally (and Bush will do so no matter what Congress says.) Gore wants Congress to add language to its authorization saying that this is not "pre-emptive" action, because it would set a terrible precedent for the US to take "pre-emptive" action. Gosh, if you say it's not so . . .

Jack Straw is right --- Gore said nothing in opposition to the Bush regime, and was just posturing.

can't help it . . . 24.Sep.2002 16:46


its sad but true - crybabies with no spine, falling over themselves to get behind bushladen on the next assassination attempt, the next bombing, the next whatever.
can't help it . . .
can't help it . . .

you should pay attention to your president 24.Sep.2002 19:58

he won

re-elect gore in 2004!

al whore Pt.2: In response to Sue 24.Sep.2002 20:47


I'd just like to remind Sue that there was one lone Democrat of true courage who did speak out on 9/11: Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. And, aside from losing her seat, how did her own party treat her? She became an instant pariah, reviled as a conspiracy wingnut and traitor. Sue, you can be a Democrat if you like, but I think there are other more principled choices out there.

Cynthia McKinney needs a lesson in courage 24.Sep.2002 23:11


Anyone can shoot their mouth off like McKinney that President Bush deliberately ignored warnings about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and allowed more than 3,000 people to die so that his friends in the defense industry would benefit financially from the subsequent war. However, if you make a claim like that without the facts to back it up you have no one but yourself to blame when you get a reputation for being a conspiracy nut.

McKinney did not at the time she made those statements have the facts to back up her claim. She admitted a day or two later:

"I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case."

Weeks later when information came out that the warnings by the FBI, French intelligence, Israeli intelligence, Russian intelligence, etc. etc she claimed that her original charges were vindicated.

I despise Bush. However, accusing him of mass murder of Americans for profit without facts to back it up does not help defeat him. It just helps Bush supporters ridicule those who are asking serious questions and well thought out questions about 9-11.

Al Gore had the courage and the intelligence to lay out a mainstream but powerful attack on the Bush rush to war. Al Gore's speech, not the unsupportable paniced accusations of Cynthia McKinney, took real courage. Real courage leads to deliberate and effective action, not wild unsupportable remarks.

It is unclear whether the individuals who have dismissed Al Gore's speech are actually opposed to Bush's War in Iraq. I have no doubt that they might be opposed to all wars, or all wars in which the U.S. is not directly defending her own territory, or "imperialism" or fascism or capitialist exploitation of the third world.


No one is asking you to register as Democrats. We're asking you if you want an anti-Iraq war movement, or are you just want to smirk about how superior your political purity is to ours?


vote democrat

I agree with the comments of the last message. Al Gore represents a real patriot who is opposed to war on a much more principled basis that you antiwar radicals will ever be.

Unlike you political purists who are opposed to all wars or American "Imperialist" wars, Al Gore only opposes wars in which there is not the proper United Nations/Multilaterialist figleaf. Remember how his buddy Bill Clinton bombed the shit out of Yugoslavia? Now that was a war (heh).

Hell if Al Gore were president, he would not only bomb Baghdad but also every medicine factory in the Sudan (with the proper United Nations Security Council approval of course)

And we all know how all you peaceniks types like Noam Chomsky just love that Multilateralist United Nations stuff, don't you?




McKinney: not far enough 25.Sep.2002 09:49

Jack Straw

Only problem with McKinney is that she didn't go far enough with her charges. The US gov't was the real culprit, if al Qaeda played a role it was that of patsy.
And "he won" sounds like one of those few people who was actually benefiting from the disgustingly gross growing inequality which made up the Clinton-Gore "prosperity" speculation bubble, with generous helpings of war (Yugoslavia, the constant bombing of Iraq cum a killer trade embargo, ..) At least Republicans are honest about the fascism they want.