On September 23, 2002 Al Gore gave a speech at The Commonwealth Club of California laying out his differences between Bush 43 and himself in regards to entering Iraq, which Bush was proposing at the time. Following are major parts of that speech. Gore was in favor of going after Hussein; he just wanted to make sure our friends didn’t mind if we did, and he felt that Bush was moving too fast. As can be seen below, he found much more to agree on with Bush, than disagree:
I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion. If you’re going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first. Especially if you’re in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who’s out after you.
Nevertheless, all Americans should acknowledge that Iraq does indeed pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf region, and we should be about the business of organizing an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power. Now, let’s be clear, there’s no international law that can prevent the United States from taking action to protect our vital interests when it is manifestly clear that there is a choice to be made between law and our survival. Indeed, international law itself recognizes that such choices stay within the purview of all nations. I believe, however, that such a choice is not presented in the case of Iraq. Indeed, should we decide to proceed, our action can be justified within the framework of international law rather than requiring us to go outside the framework of international law. In fact, even though a new United Nations resolution might be helpful in the effort to forge an international consensus, I think it’s abundantly clear that the existing U.N. resolutions passed 11 years ago are completely sufficient from a legal standpoint so long as it is clear that Saddam Hussein is in breach of the agreements made at the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.
I just think that if we end the war in Iraq the way we ended the war in Afghanistan, we could very well be worse off than we are today. When you ask the administration about this, what’s their intention in the aftermath of a war, Secretary Rumsfeld was asked recently about what our responsibility would be for re-stabilizing Iraq in the aftermath of an invasion, and his answer was, “That’s for the Iraqis to come together and decide.” On the surface you can understand the logic behind that, and this is not an afterthought. This is based on administration policy. I vividly remember that during one of the campaign debates in 2000, Jim Lehrer asked then-Governor Bush whether or not America, after being involved with military action, should engage in any form of nation building. The answer was, “I don’t think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I’m missing something here. We’re going to have kind of a nation-building corps in America? Absolutely not.” My point is, this is a Bush doctrine. This is administration policy. Given that it is administration policy, we have to take that into account as a nation in looking at the likely consequences of an overwhelming American military victory against the government of Iraq. If we go in there and dismantle them – and they deserve to be dismantled – but then we wash our hands of it and walk away and leave it in a situation of chaos, and say, “That’s for y’all to decide how to put things back together now,” that hurts us.
As you can see, Bush ended up getting very serious about nation building, which is what Gore counciled him to do. We’re looking forward to Gore defending the Administration in this hour of need.
One thing further; I find it intensely interesting that as the years go on, the G8 is moving ever closer to Bush’s position, not the Left.