To Restore Our Image Abroad, We Need Al Gore

(crossposted from Daily Kos and Truth & Progress)

Foreign policy is the collective face a nation puts forth for the rest of the world to accept or reject; admire or detest; cooperate with or defy; and emulate or ignore.

The objective of foreign policy goals is not just to advance our “vital national interests” but also to project our values of fairness, cooperation, and morality for mutual benefit.  Contrary to the traditions established by both Democratic and Republican Administrations since World War II, an important and essential component has been the pursuit of these goals with the help of our traditional allies. 

For almost all of the Bush Years, American foreign policy has been the face of a dominant bully hellbent on intimidating other countries to get in line and support our perverted agendas, with little or no success.  In other words, our foreign policy face has been that of The Ugly American.

To reverse this ugliness and restore our country’s shattered international image, we need Al Gore to put a human face on these international endeavors.

Why is Al Gore particularly well-suited to be the symbol and face of American foreign policy?  Go back to the summer of 1992 and a young Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, had become the Democratic nominee for president.  Lacking any direct foreign policy or military experience (although Clinton did study international relations at Georgetown University’s famous School of Foreign Service), he needed someone sophisticated in the ways of Washington, DC and experienced in how international affairs were conducted.  Gore was a member of a prominent political family, a Vietnam War veteran, a former member of the US House Intelligence Committee, and, later, the US Senate Armed Services Committee.  At the time, in addition to his expertise in areas of emerging technologies and the environment, he was considered one of the leading foreign policy experts on Capitol Hill.  Even his perceived “hawkishness” in foreign policy was seen as a balancing asset to Clinton’s many “flawed” character issues. 

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After being selected as Bill Clinton’s running mate in 1992, Gore filled a gaping hole in Bill Clinton’s resume.  Moreover, his selection also signaled an important generational change in American politics — the first baby boomers to guide this nation’s destiny. From Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush, every American President had either served in or was in uniform during World War II.  It is hard to recreate the political dynamic of 1992 but one can argue that without Gore and with charges of draft dodging filling the airwaves, it is not inconceivable that Bill Clinton would never have become the 42nd President of the United States. That’s how important Gore’s selection was in the minds of many voters.  (Note: of all of the 2008 contenders, only one, John McCain, has served in the military)

After being perhaps the most important of Clinton’s foreign policy advisers as Vice President for eight years, Gore has, since 2001, become the world’s unofficial ‘President of the Environment.’  His tireless efforts to promote the issue of Climate Change have resulted in numerous awards.  His wildly-successful documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ won two Academy Awards and since then, he has been recognized all over the world in such far-flung places as Spain, Sweden, Greece, Canada, South Asian Kingdoms, Singapore, Norway, and England.  His books and speeches on the important issues facing our democracy have enlightened millions and raised important caution flags for what ails our country.  Can anyone else match this record of achievement?  I think not.

In other ‘Gore News’ of this past week, there are several examples of not only how Gore has inspired countries to do the right things but individuals as well. 

* In Australia, Gore’s army of climate crusaders is about to grow by almost 200 new recruits under the auspices of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate Project

Gore’s Crusade Joins Forces With Durie Duty

NOT so long ago, television host Jamie Durie used to race around the clock to transform Australians’ backyards.  Now he’s getting ready to join 169 other Australians in a race to transform the planet, with a little help from former US vice-president Al Gore.

Next week, Mr Gore is coming to Melbourne to train 170 new climate change campaigners, through the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate Project.

“I know I’m not saving lives by being on television … but it does give me the opportunity to get out and spread the word about climate change,” he said.

Braybrook College student Linh Do will join a panel including celebrity gardener Jamie Durie to be trained as climate crusaders by Al Gore

* Need more examples?  In Australia, another instance of the next generation following Al Gore’s example comes in this uplifting story

Working for the Next Generation
Even late converts to the environmental cause can go green in their jobs. 

Teenagers are notoriously difficult to impress, but Mark Goddard has achieved as much with his two sons by going green in his job with accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.  For this belated cool cachet, Goddard has the former US vice-president Al Gore to thank.

When he was a computer auditor with the firm, Goddard’s sons, Michael, 18, and Jonathan, 15, dismissed his work as boring.

But last year he became climate change services leader with the firm, looking after a team of 25 whose role is to advise clients on managing the risks associated with global warming by reducing their carbon footprint, using green technology, reducing water use and guarding against climate disasters such as drought.

* In Connecticut, one of Gore’s trainees is taking additional steps to combat the growing threat of Climate Change by involving a wide array of professionals

Opening Lecture Focuses on Global Climate Change

Does a summer of fluctuating temperatures, raging storms and dangerous floods provide evidence of climate change?  And if so, what can we do about it?

Because the issues surrounding climate change are overwhelming, confusing and seemingly out of our control, SoundWaters, the Stamford-based environmental education organization, has invited scientists, academics, politicians and planners to address the effects of climate change in the Long Island Sound metropolitan region and around the planet.

The goal of the climate change series is to demystify the science and highlight practical actions for government, business and individuals.

The series opens Sept. 19 with The Climate Project presentation on Global Climate Change, featuring Anthony O. Pereira, president and chief executive officer of altPOWER, a New York City-based renewable energy integrator.  Mr. Pereira is one of 1,000 volunteer presenters trained in Nashville, Tenn., by former Vice President Al Gore to present a version of the slideshow that provides the basis of Mr. Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth.

* The Washington Post recently reported that a former Democratic Senator of the Maryland Senate is using Gore’s vision to assist in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay

For Chesapeake, a Few Inconvenient Truths
Following Gore’s Lead, Ex-Senator Uses Slides to Push Bay Cleanup

A former Maryland state senator — upset with the continued pollution of the Chesapeake Bay is taking his message on the road with an Al Gore-style environmental slide show about the “inconvenient truths” of bay cleanup efforts.

Gerald W. Winegrad (D), who left the Senate in 1995, has presented the slide show more than a dozen times. The audiences, totaling 100 people since May, have included top officials at state agencies, environmental groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and members of the public.

Despite a massive government effort dating to 1983, the bay’s problems with pollution, “dead zones” and vanishing wildlife have improved little. To reverse these trends, Winegrad is calling for stringent policies that would help preserve forests and require farmers to deal with polluted runoff.

Gerald Winegrad, left, who retired from the state Senate in 1995, presents a slide show about Chesapeake Bay pollution to teachers and environmentalists

* Terra Naomi, about whom I wrote a couple of months ago when she performed her song “Say, It’s Possible” at ‘Live Earth London’ (after watching “An Inconvenient Truth”) was featured last week in the London Times

The Unlikely Life of Terra Naomi

“I was using drugs in the ghetto of Detroit and there was nothing cool about it.  There were guns.  The situations I was in were life-threatening.”  How she got into such a state she isn’t sure, as she claims she had a decent childhood with a nice middle-class family.  She just always felt like an outsider, the sort of kid who hung out on their own wearing black and writing morose poetry, and her determined streak led her to wanton self-destruction.

At the Live Earth gig, Naomi was even more determined to enjoy every second on stage, as the drugs had made her so numb for so many years.

Such is the power of Al Gore’s personal support.  She saw “An Inconvenient Truth” while she was working as a bored waitress in New York.  “The next day I wrote the song that I recorded and posted online.  Somebody at YouTube loved it and put it on the front page. That was in June and by August I had all these people calling me and wanting to sign me. I was like, what is happening here?  It was years and years of no interest and then all of a sudden it wasboom, switch, everything’s changed.”

Official Video for Terra Naomi’s “Say It’s Possible”

* Finally, last week I wrote of an unconventional way of measuring the candidates’ support is The 2008 Bumper Sticker Primary which keeps track of all campaign gear (bumper stickers, tshirts, buttons) sold for each candidate.  It showed that Gore sales were surging.  From the same organization (the largest online) comes this news

2008 Running Mate Combination Statistics (June-September 2007)

It’s been three months, so let’s do an update on Democratic Party running mate choices to look at patterns that appeared over the summer.  The following are running mate combinations (placed in President-Vice President order) that have garnered at least a 1% share of all sales from June 8, 2007 through September 10, 2007, making them the major contenders in the hearts of our customers for a 2008 Democratic presidential ticket:

Gore-Obama: 46.7%
Clinton-Obama: 16.0%
Edwards-Obama: 6.0%
Kucinich-Gravel: 5.7%
Biden-Obama: 4.0%
Gore-Edwards: 3.4%
Obama-Clinton: 1.4%
Obama-Richardson: 1.3%
Clinton-Pelosi: 1.2%
Gore-Richardson: 1.1%
Gore-Kucinich: 1.1%
Gravel-Obama: 1.1%
Obama-Edwards: 1.0%

A 2008 Democratic ticket of Gore-Obama is something that The Young Turks have been promoting for months

‘Sweet Home GoreObama’ by
The Young Turks

Back to why Al Gore is best qualified to project a positive image abroad for our country.

This isn’t August 1945 when at the end of the Second World War, the United States “bestrode the world like a colossus” and could literally (and figuratively) make others go through hoops to further its national interest.  Since then, several other countries (many with American help and foresight) have joined us in the club of developed countries.  New technology and advancements in other areas have improved the quality of lives for hundreds of millions of people around the world.  The rise of countries like China and India need not threaten our future prosperity or, for that matter, terrorism by non-state actors our very survival and existence.  What we desperately need is a person uniquely qualified to lead us in this modern, complex, interdependent world where rational means are used to achieve mutually beneficial ends.

As I wrote in an earlier diary a few weeks ago

Rather than employing the Lockean approach adopted by Al Gore to foster international cooperation on one of the most important challenges facing the planet, the Bush Administration has, over the years, slithered deeper into their Hobbesian cocoon of paranoia while embracing every “all against all” conflict – one after another.

In my mind, the person to reverse these destructive Bush policies — and one with a long and distinguished history of achievement in the foreign policy arena — is Al Gore.

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  1. … or so, I’ve written dozens of diaries about Al Gore (see here and here).  Of these, I’ll single out a diary which compares Gore’s efforts to bring the issue of Global Warming to the world’s attention to that of Winston Churchill’s rhetorical and persuasive powers in the late 1940’s, which made anti-Communism the defining issue for the next (almost) five decades of the Cold War. 

    Here’s an excerpt from that diary

    Al Gore and the Morality of Leadership

    Over the past several decades, how many once-and-future politicians, out of office the first time, were able to through sheer grit, determination, intellectual coherence, and perseverance force an important public policy issue to the fore and to a point where it became increasingly difficult to ignore it?

    I bet the answer is: very, very few.  In fact, in the post-World War II period, the only person other than Al Gore to identify an issue and propel it to the world stage was probably Winston Churchill.

    Tips for Al Gore, hopefully a candidate soon and the future 44th President of the United States.  Thanks.

    ps: a great deal has been written earlier today about various aspects of Gore’s potential 2008 candidacy.  Here’s news of another Draft Gore effort underway in Massachesetts and an excellent diary, ‘Something New In American Politics,’  on the Draft Gore movement around the country.

    • auntdeen on September 14, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Most of the world will be grateful that America will once again have a clearly sane and competent person at our helm after the next election – any of our D candidates will do for that purpose.  However, Al Gore is truly the only one who would have a huge head start in mending our relationships and our reputation, because he has the experience, the knowledge and the gravitas.

    Sigh. Please run, Al…

  2. and besides all the obvious qualifications that he has to be President( and to chart a real course change)…the entire world would undoubtedly be swept with a huge wave of relief that America had regained her sanity.

  3. as much as I love and admire this man, I am still learning new things about him. Thanks for a wonderful essay.

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