As usual, a really sharp comment from Virginia Postrel on Gore’s speech. She cites the passage where Gore says
“that we ought to be focusing our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and who have thus far gotten away with it …I don’t think we should allow anything to diminish our focus on the necessity for avenging the 3,000 Americans who were murdered and dismantling the network of terrorists that we know were responsible for it.” [Emphasis added.]
This is a very interesting way of framing the task at hand: not to prevent future attacks on Americans but to avenge the deaths on September 11. Now there’s no question that many Americans, myself included, have entertained the desire for vengeance. But the only reason to act on that impulse is to make it clear that future attacks will be costly for the attackers. Vengeance for vengeance’s sake is just blood lust. It might feel good, but (leaving aside any humanitarian considerations) it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem. Vengeance may even make matters worse, by escalating blood feuds without eliminating threats. Gore’s pooh-poohing of the administration’s Iraq policy depends in large measure on his definition of the problem. If you want to prevent further attacks, you have to worry about state-sponsored weapons programs. If you just want to get revenge, you don’t.
Andy then says:
I think that’s a brilliant insight. In his pathetic attempt to find a way to attack his nemesis, Gore has actually reverted to the kind of bellicose hysteria we usually associate with the far right. In fact, I think Gore’s speech is essentially what happens when a man takes his emotion and tries to find reasons – any reasons – for it. If the Democrats follow him, it will be into a political wilderness.
First off, if Andy is looking for “bellicose hysteria” he need look no further than any recent Michael Kelly column. Secondly Postrel doesn’t seem to see the linkage in two of her own statements :
But the only reason to act on that impulse is to make it clear that future attacks will be costly for the attackers.
If you want to prevent further attacks, you have to worry about state-sponsored weapons programs.
Maybe if Postrel put those two thoughts together she can come up with one worthy one. People like Postrel and Sullivan want to muddy the water so that 9/11 and Bush’s Saddam obsession become one. They’re not…and that is what Al Gore said quite clearly.