Having written about the Bali conference for the Blog earlier in the week, I found the most recent developments a further example of deepening conflict between the Bush administration and much of the rest of the world and the irrelevance of the administration's policies to global issues. I also found Al Gore's statement as he arrived at the conference remarkable for an establishment American politician.
First, the European Union, hoping to use Bali to go forward with policies to strengthen the Kyoto Accord, is actively rebelling against the confidence game that the Bush administration, which never signed the Accord, is playing in Bali.
Humberto Rosa, both the Portuguese delegate and present President of the European Union said in response to the U.S. stalling on any concrete agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses that the meeting that the Bush administration hopes to call in Hawaii next month to "continue" discussions (which many environmentalists see as a continuation of its do nothing policies) would be "meaningless" without an agreement.
The German minister for Environment, Sigmar Gabriel, was even more blunt: "no result at Bali means no major Economies meeting."
It should be noted that Russia, India, and China have all been critical of the push by environmental activists through the world to establish clear numerical goals (the basis of any planning for anything) to reduce greenhouse gasses, but those issues, particularly if the conference follows the lead of the United Nations Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change by developing different but complementary plans for developed and developing nations, is manageable.
The Bush administration's opposition in effect creates a stalemate and prevents the world community from acting now to deal with a crisis that science tells us represents a clear and present danger to the planet and all species who inhabit it. Kevin Knoblach, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists stated the obvious when he said that "the best we hoped for was that the U.S would not hobble the rest of the world from moving forward.... our delegation here from the States has not been able to meet that low level of expectation."
Al Gore's arrival from Oslo, where he accepted the Nobel Prize for his work to foster a progressive global environmental policy, provided a very different American presence for the delegations of 190 nations attending the conference than the official U.S. delegation. Gore did what few major U.S. politicians have ever had the courage to do, that is, directly and clearly criticize U.S. policy to an international audience. "My own country, the United States," Gore said, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali, an obvious statement that few of his political colleagues would make, especially abroad.
Gore went on to say to the delegates "over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now....You must anticipate that," a clear call to the world community to look toward a post Bush America that will be an ally rather than an enemy of a global environmental policy.
I hope my final remarks don't lead to polemical attacks from inside or outside of this blog, since that would be pointless, but as I look at Al Gore and compare him to the field of Democratic candidates who have a serious chance to gain the nomination, from the front-runner Hillary Clinton to present major contender Senator Obama, to the lesser contender but possible nominee John Edwards, to the rest, including Dennis Kucinich (clearly the best on the greatest number of issues by far) who are not given any chance to gain the nomination, I see Gore as not only the strongest Democratic candidate to win and win a decisive victory if he would decide to run, (stronger than Clinton or Obama) but also the best Democratic candidate in that he is, of all likely nominees (assuming he would decide to run, which of course he has refused to do) most likely to provide leadership for a progressive majority on a variety of issues, not only environment, which Franklin Roosevelt, and in a lesser and much more flawed way, Lyndon Johnson did in the past, responding respectively to the labor and civil rights movements in the midst of great crises.
Although it may be an exercise in futility, if I were in Bali today (it is raining and snowing here in New Jersey so that wouldn't be too bad in and of itself) I would say "Run, Al Run" and win the presidency you really did win in 2000.