WASHINGTON – In his speech in San Francisco Monday, former Vice President Al Gore, lambasting the current President Bush for trying to distract attention to failings in the war on terror by launching an attack on Iraq, said the first President Bush ended the 1991 Gulf War too soon.
"Back in 1991, I was one of a handful of Democrats in the United States Senate to vote in favor of the resolution endorsing the Persian Gulf War, and I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield," Gore told an enthusiastic crowd at the Commonwealth Club.
However, on April 18, 1991, Gore felt differently, according to his own remarks. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, of which he was a member, Gore said then-President George H.W. Bush acted correctly in ending the Persian Gulf War when he did.
"I want to state this clearly, President Bush should not be blamed for Saddam Hussein's survival to this point. There was throughout the war a clear consensus that the United States should not include the conquest of Iraq among its objectives. On the contrary, it was universally accepted that our objective was to push Iraq out of Kuwait, and it was further understood that when this was accomplished, combat should stop."
Gore was one of the few Senate Democrats who voted in favor of the Gulf War resolution after Iraq attacked Kuwait in 1990. But like other leading Democrats, he has expressed reservations recently about taking any military action against Iraq, suggesting the diplomatic costs would be extremely high.
His speech Monday was much more critical, warning of ominous and untold consequences, ranging from a short-term power vacuum that could increase the danger of chemical and biological attacks, to the creation of legions of enemies angry and fearful about U.S. domination.
"If we end the war in Iraq the way we ended the war in Afghanistan, we could easily be worse off than we are today," Gore said.
Gore described his speech as an effort to lay out an alternative to the course of action pursued by the Bush administration. He urged Congress not to give the president a broad mandate in a resolution currently being drafted.
Fox News' Brit Hume and the Associated Press contributed to this report.