Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Would President Gore have gone to war with Iraq? (Prove me wrong)

Among the bloggers I read (more on that in a few days), Slate's political commentary has the reputation of being contrarian to the point of idiocy.

So when Steve Kornacki argues that President Gore would've gone to war against Iraq just like Bush did, it's well worth pausing to find the inevitable mistake(s).

Kornacki is working off of a Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll that asked if things would be different if Gore had been president. That Kornacki decides to focus on the Iraq war is telling, since he probably couldn't get anywhere if he took other parts of the Bush administration. What about Medicare Part D? What about the Bush tax cuts? What about water-boarding and domestic surveillance?

But let's take Kornacki's hypothetical seriously: would Gore have invaded Iraq like Bush?

Jonathan Bernstein at the Washington Post does some good work on this score, pointing out that Gore would've been more committed to multi-lateral action, which would've probably meant more time for weapons inspectors, which would've meant less of a reason for the invasion at all. (And let's add: a drastically different, less cowboy-swagger approach to the invasion if it had happened.)

And Matt Yglesias at ThinkProgress argues that, post-9/11, a Gore administration would've heavily invaded Afghanistan rather than split the focus with an invasion of Iraq.

But no one seems to be pointing out one other counterfactual possibility (and please, prove me wrong): if Gore had been president, would 9/11 have happened at all? Various Clinton-era initiatives produced information on Al-Qaeda; and there's at least some chance that a Gore administration would've paid more attention to Clinton-era info than the Bush team.

So, would Gore have gone to war with Iraq? No, because no 9/11 would have meant little-to-no interest in foreign military adventures.

No comments:

Post a Comment