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   What Al Gore Really Said in San Francisco: ";The United States has squandered the world's goodwill"

What Al Gore Really Said in San Francisco: “The United States has squandered the world's goodwill”

Excerpts from a speech made by the former Vice-President of the United States to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, 25 September 2002

“One of the points I want to make is that we have an obligation to look at the relationship between our war against terrorism and this proposed war against Iraq. We have a goal of regime change in Iraq; we also have a clear goal of victory in the war against terror. In the case of Iraq, it would be difficult to go it alone, but it's theoretically possible to achieve our goals in Iraq unilaterally. Nevertheless, by contrast, the war against terrorism manifestly requires a multilateral approach. It is impossible to succeed against terrorism unless we have secured the continuing, sustained co-operation of many nations.

“Our ability to secure that kind of multilateral co-operation in the war against terrorism can be severely damaged in the way we go about undertaking unilateral action against Iraq. I believe that this is unfortunate, because in the immediate aftermath of 11 September, more than a year ago, we had an enormous reservoir of goodwill and sympathy and shared resolve all over the world. That has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with great anxiety all around the world, not primarily about what the terrorist networks are going to do, but about what we're going to do.

“Now, my point is not that they're right to feel that way, but that they do feel that way. And that has consequences for us. Squandering all that goodwill and replacing it with anxiety in a year's time is similar to what was done by turning a $100 billion surplus into a $200 billion deficit in a year's time.

“If we quickly succeed in a war against the weakened and depleted fourth-rate military of Iraq, and then quickly abandon that nation, then the resulting chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.

“Here's why I say that. We know that he has stored away secret supplies of biological weapons and chemical weapons throughout his country. What if the al-Qa'ida members infiltrated across the borders of Iraq the way they are in Afghanistan? Then the question wouldn't be: ‘Is Saddam Hussein going to share these weapons with a terrorist group?’ The terrorist groups would have an enhanced ability to just walk in there and get them....”

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This story was published on October 2, 2002.
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