Al Gore’s speech today before a Move On audience in New York was so over the top, so around the bend, so surreal in its hateful portrayal of America and the Bush administration, that it stakes out ground never before occupied by a prominent (or formerly prominent) American politician. To fisk the entire speech, pointing out and documenting all of its hundreds of inaccuracies, would take days if not weeks. So I’ll confine myself, for now, to a few points.
The main theme of Gore’s speech was that all of the current bad news from Iraq is a natural outgrowth of President Bush’s policies. For example:
The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration’s march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th….David Kay concluded his search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq with the famous verdict: “we were all wrong.” And for many Americans, Kay’s statement seemed to symbolize the awful collision between Reality and all of the false and fading impressions President Bush had fostered in building support for his policy of going to war.
To which I can only say: Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002:
We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.
Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.
It is now clear that their obscene abuses of the truth and their unforgivable abuse of the trust placed in them after 9/11 by the American people led directly to the abuses of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and, we are now learning, in many other similar facilities constructed as part of Bush’s Gulag, in which, according to the Red Cross, 70 to 90 percent of the victims are totally innocent of any wrongdoing.
Huh? Why exactly is that “clear”? But it’s always fun when a liberal tries to quote a statistic; let’s pursue that for a moment. Gore’s reference to the Red Cross was very artfully phrased, no doubt because he knew the impression he was trying to foster was false. Anyone hearing his speech would reasonably understand that the Red Cross had done some kind of a survey or study and had found, by some empirical means, that 70 to 90 percent of the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib and other prisons were completely innocent.
That is not, of course, what the Red Cross reported. Their February report, which is freely accessible on the internet, said only this: “Certain CF military intelligence officials told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.” Note three basic points: One, the Red Cross did no investigation whatsoever to arrive at this “statistic,” which now shows up routinely in left-wing denunciations of the war. Two, the allegation is unsourced; the “military intelligence officials” are anonymous. Such anonymous, second-hand sourcing is, for obvious reasons, notoriously unreliable. God only knows what some unknown “intelligence official” said to some unknown Red Cross staffer. Third, the Red Cross’ second-hand slur didn’t refer to Abu Ghraib or any other prison. It referred to persons who were “deprived of liberty.” A great many people in Iraq are detained briefly by military personnel; it seems reasonable to assume that most of those who are “arrested by mistake” are freed, not imprisoned at Abu Ghraib or other prisons in “Bush’s gulag.” It is therefore ridiculous to transfer the Red Cross’ anonymous estimate to the inmates of Abu Ghraib. But this is what Al Gore and other leftist politicians and newspapers do, constantly.
Gore alleges that the war in Iraq has somehow impeded the war on terror and benefited al Qaeda:
Just yesterday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict “has arguably focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition.” The ISS said that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks.
Gore relies on news reports like this one from the Associated Press. But, as Dafydd ab Hugh has pointed out, the short attention span of the American liberal apparently prevented Gore from reading to the end of the article, where the 18,000 number is explained:
The IISS said its estimate of 18,000 al-Qaida fighters was based on intelligence estimates that the group trained at least 20,000 fighters in its camps in Afghanistan before the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban regime. In the ensuing war on terror, some 2,000 al-Qaida fighters have been killed or captured, the survey said.
So Gore’s claim that “in the wake of the war in Iraq” al Qaeda has 18,000 members is a ridiculous mischaracterization of the Institute of Strategic Studies’ report. The 18,000 number is merely the difference between the estimated number of people who passed through al Qaeda training camps before the war in Afghanistan, and the 2,000 al Qaeda members who are estimated to have been killed since then. The figure, whether accurate or not, has nothing at all to do with the war in Iraq, contrary to Gore’s assertion.
I don’t know whether the IISS has any particular credibility, but, for what it’s worth, here is what that organization had to say about the potential benefits of the Iraq war in the fight against terrorism:
Progress in marginalising transnational Islamist terrorists will come incrementally. It is likely to accelerate only with currently elusive political developments that would broadly depress recruitment and motivation, such as the stable democratisation of Iraq or resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Liberals hate America. They never admit it, but it’s true. Here is a small but revealing moment in Gore’s hysterical tirade that shows, I think, what he really believes:
[Speaking of torture] We all know these things, and we need not reassure ourselves and should not congratulate ourselves that our society is less cruel than some others, although it is worth noting that there are many that are less cruel than ours.
Got that? America is “less cruel than some,” but “more cruel than many.” We just need to apologize for our errors, bow our heads in submission, and take instruction from the majority of nations in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America who are so well qualified to give us lessons in the avoidance of cruelty. If you believe this, you may as well stop reading; you are a hard-core Kerry voter.
I could go on, but I’ll stop for now. There is simply too much falsehood and confusion in Gore’s speech for any one person to deconstruct. We should perhaps divide his tirade by paragraphs and parcel out to websites in the blogosphere–the Northern Alliance, for example, with help from others, since the job is so vast–the task of refuting Gore’s misrepresentations and libels, one by one.
In the meantime, you should read his speech. Read it, and weep for our country, because this deranged partisan hack was once Vice-President of the United States.
UPDATE: John Podhoretz’s view of Gore’s speech isn’t as positive as ours.