Al Gore's decision to speak out against President Bush's handling of the Iraq crisis (commented on here on Wednesday) has emboldened several other influential Americans to make their views known. Generally, they accept the proposition that Saddam Hussein has to be contained and prevented from making or using weapons of mass destruction, but think that the Bush administration is going about the task in an unsatisfactory way. Madeleine Albright, President Clinton's Secretary of State, made some telling points when she spoke before the Senate committee on foreign relations. She said: “It is not an American trait to want war. And it is not a sign of sound leadership to understate the risks of war or to offer constantly shifting rationales – as this administrations has – for such a venture.” She warned that dealing with al–Qaeda was a more urgent task than pursuing Iraq, saying “This is not the time or place for short attention spans.” Henry Kissinger was another to give evidence to the Senate committee. In typical fashion he looked at the long term implications of President Bush's commitment to pre–emptive military action, despite there being no provision for it in the UN Charter: “It cannot be either the American national interest or the world's interest to develop principles that grant every nation an unfettered right of pre–emption against its own definition of threats to its security.” That's it in a nutshell. Why cannot Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al see it as clearly?

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