Way to go, Al:
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed “terrible abuses” against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.
Gore said Arabs had been “indiscriminately rounded up” and held in “unforgivable” conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida’s hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.
“The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake,” Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. “The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”
Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.”
“Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it’s wrong,” Gore said. “I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country.”
Procedurally, Gore’s speech is repugnant. It is one thing to say such things to an American audience in an effort to change our policy. Whether or not one agrees with Gore on the substance, if he wants to change American policy to let in more Saudis the only way he can do that it is to campaign for that change among influential Americans. It is, however, another thing entirely to travel to a foreign country that features pivotally in the war of our generation for the purpose of denouncing American policies in front of the affected foreign audience. It is especially problematic to mess with Saudi political opinions, which are subject to intensive influence and coercion by internal actors and the United States, al Qaeda, and Iran, among other powers. Supposing that some Saudis were inclined to be angry over the American visa policy, won’t they be more angry after Al Gore has told them that they’re being humiliated? How is that helpful?
Finally, Gore’s outrage at the American treatment of Arab and Muslim captives may be genuine, and it may even be worthy of expression in the United States, where we aspire to do better than press accounts suggest we have done. But whatever nasty things we have done in exceptional cases in time of war, they pale in comparison to the standard operating procedure in Saudi Arabia. So this is what Gore has done: he has traveled to Jiddah to explain to the elites of an ugly and tyrannical regime that the big problem in the world isn’t the oppression of Arabs by Arabs throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but the mistreatment of a few hundred Arabs in the United States. This is like visiting Moscow in 1970 and denouncing the United States in front of a bunch of Communist Party deputies for the killings at Kent State. Indeed, the differences in that comparison reflect badly on Gore.
There is simply no defense for what Gore has done here, for he is deliberately undermining the United States during a time of war, in a part of the world crucial to our success in that war, in front of an audience that does not vote in American elections. Gore’s speech is both destructive and disloyal, not because of its content — which is as silly as it is subversive — but because of its location and its intended audience. He should be ashamed. But he won’t be. The leadership of the Democratic party should disavow Gore’s Jiddah speech. But it won’t.
Al Gore is apparently of the Rockefeller mindset: he thinks it’s ok to travel to foreign soil and criticize sensitive US foreign policy issues with countries who are light years behind us in the human rights department (I should note Michael Moore shares this mindset as well, on a more general scale of just trashing this country on foreign soil, no matter the issue). Oh please, please run for president, Al. It’d be so much fun to watch you lose yet again.
Update: Others blogging about this: Michelle Malkin, Oblogatory Anecdotes , RightWinged.com, Atlas Shrugs, Blogs For Bush, Expose the Left, Slobokan, National Institute for Truth and Freedom, Explicitly Ambiguous