The Magazine

Al Gore's ambivalence, and more.

From the August 5, 2002 issue: The former vice president has a long history of conflicting opinions on Iraq.

Aug 5, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 45 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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AL GORE TAKES HIS STAND

Last Thursday, Al Gore (who is not the president of the United States) showed up in Washington to criticize George W. Bush (who is) for--among other things--proceeding too forcefully and publicly with plans for a possible military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi dictatorship. At a meeting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building with a group called "21st Century Democrats," Gore, who lost the November 2000 presidential election, accused Bush, who won it, of . . .

Well, Gore's comments, to be properly appreciated, should be viewed in the full context of the many comments he's made on the subject throughout a long and varied and unusually slippery career. So we'll run the highlights in chronological order, and save the 21st Century Democrats for last.

"It is doubtful that the conquest of Iraq is anything this nation would ever want to seek. Even if it were adopting that as a stated goal, it would be a terrible mistake, for reasons we can all certainly see clearly. . . . Doubtless, among the exiled Iraqis, one can find survivors who are people of virtue and wisdom, but it is hard to see how these individuals might come to power unless we were to install them, and that would require the conquest and occupation of Iraq, which is not in prospect and should not be in prospect."

--January 30, 1991, on the Senate floor

"I don't think we should have left Saddam's regime in place. . . . I think we made a tragic mistake in the days right after the war in deciding that the best way to maintain stability in Iraq was to leave the Baathist regime in power there. . . . We should have bent every policy--and we should do it now--to overthrow that regime and make sure that Saddam Hussein is removed from power."

--September 19, 1991, on CNN's "Larry King Live"

Saddam Hussein has "been in power for much longer than we would like," but "some of what is now underway with respect to Iraq in [the Clinton] administration is not something we can talk about in the public arena."

--April 30, 2000, on CNN's "Late Edition"

"I certainly question why we would be publicly blustering and announcing an invasion a year or two years in advance. . . . I do think the situation our country faces now is fundamentally different than what we faced on the eve of the Gulf War. If the rest of the world does not see what it regards as a sufficient provocation to justify an invasion by the United States, then the diplomatic cost would be extremely high."

--July 25, 2002, addressing the 21st Century Democrats

That certainly clears things up, doesn't it?

THE YAHOO! KOWTOW

Information that might "jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability, contravene laws and regulations and spread superstition and obscenity" will, effective Aug. 1, no longer be posted by major Internet portals in China, thanks to their participation in the voluntary Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry.

Most notable among the self-censoring signatories of the pledge is U.S.-based Yahoo!, which maintains a Chinese-language website. It appears to be the only non-China-based company among the hundreds that have bowed to Beijing's pressure to uphold "the ethical norms of the socialist cultural civilization." But signing such a pact is only the most recent in a series of capitulations by Yahoo! and other American companies that have eroded hopes that widespread Internet access would be instrumental in bringing democracy to China, a trend reported on by Ethan Gutmann in these pages earlier this year ("Who Lost China's Internet?" Feb. 25, 2002). China's more than 38 million Internet users remain effectively isolated from information that might be a threat to the Chinese government, unless they choose to use one of the circuitous and illegal routes being shut down daily in the name of public safety.

There are good odds that ingenious geeks will continue to outwit the Chinese bureaucracy and gain access to forbidden material for the enterprising Chinese user, but in the meantime Yahoo!China has chosen to be part of the problem, not the solution.

A MOYERS MOMENT

WEEKLY STANDARD readers will recall from Stephen F. Hayes's cover story ("PBS's Televangelist," Feb. 25, 2002) the walking conflict-of-interest that is Bill Moyers. His m.o. is simple. As head of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, with assets of more than $90 million, Moyers is the Daddy Warbucks of dozens of organizations on the left. At the same time, from his prized perch on taxpayer-funded television, Moyers essentially conducts P.R. campaigns for many of the same groups he supports with his foundation. All of this would be unexceptional--a case of putting your mouth where your money is--were it not for the Tartuffean bravura with which Moyers scolds his political enemies for their conflicts.