March 14, 2000
Vice President Al Gore discusses foreign policy and what's at stake this election year.
JIM LEHRER: Now, one thing that conventional wisdom has it now on differences between you and Governor Bush is that there's very little in the foreign affairs area to separate the two of you. Do you agree with that?
|Global warming has to be confronted|
AL GORE: I don't know. I don't know what his views are on foreign affairs.
JIM LEHRER: Is it safe to assume that you support the initiatives -- foreign policy initiatives now in place in the Clinton administration?
AL GORE: Oh, yes.
JIM LEHRER: Do you continue --
AL GORE: I have been an integral part of shaping those initiatives. I've been a part of the effort to bring about a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan -- initial agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and to move forward the Israel/Syria process, to bring peace to Northern Ireland and to Bosnia and to Kosovo and to Haiti and to help with the transition to democracy in South Africa, to get the Kyoto agreement on global warming.
If I'm entrusted with the presidency, I will seek to have that ratified by the Senate. I think global warming is a huge issue that has to be confronted. I have been a part of making the Nonproliferation Treaty permanent. I would -- my first act as president -- if I'm entrusted with the job - will be to resubmit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate. Now, there's a clear difference between Governor Bush and myself. He's opposed to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And I think that getting control of nuclear proliferation in part by banning nuclear testing around the world is a very important key to our future.
|Military force should be used as a last resort|
|JIM LEHRER: Another issue that a lot of people are urging become an issue of debate between you and Governor Bush in this campaign is when should the United States intervene? When should we put the lives of young men and women -- our young American men and women -- on the line, and I want to read something that President Clinton said a while ago -- and see if he speaks for you in this -- it's a doctrine for deciding this -- in rough terms -- whether you live in Africa or Central Europe or any other place -- if somebody comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of their race, their ethnic background, or their religion, and it is within our power to stop it, we will stop it -- end quote. |
AL GORE: Well, he kind of walked back from that a little bit after -- after the fact -- and the impulse is a noble one and I share that -- but let me give you my own criteria. I think we have to be satisfied, first of all, that we've exhausted every other means, short of military force, to reach our objective before we even consider military force.
I think that we have to have a national security interest at stake, an American national security interest. Now, that can be defined not just in terms of geopolitics, real politics. We have national interests that are moral and values based, and that's included. Third, I think that we have to be satisfied that if military force is used, we can accomplish the objective with the use of military force. Fourth, we need to see whether or not we've got allies and partners who will help shoulder the burden and we're not going it alone. And, fifth, the expected cost of whatever we're undertaking has to be proportional to the objective that we're trying to reach.
And having laid down those five criteria, I'd also like to add a realistic note that every one of these situations is kind of unique in and of itself and sometimes there are factors that come up that don't fit in a prefabricated policy box. And you have to take all of those into account also.
JIM LEHRER: Back to the experience question earlier, do you think George W. Bush has the experience to make those kinds of decisions?
AL GORE: I don't think it's for me to answer that question. I think it is a fair question. But I think that I'm obviously the least objective person in the world. You asked me whether or not he's to be given a -- you know -- a favorable rating on something that's critical to the choice for president -- you can imagine what my answer is going to be. So I'm not going to try to answer that question. I think that's the essence of the decision that the voters will have to make.
|The stakes are so high in this election|
|JIM LEHRER: How important is it to you that you win this election? |
AL GORE: Well, I believe very deeply in the recommendations that I'm making during this campaign. If what you're getting at is my own personal stake in this election --
JIM LEHRER: Yes.
AL GORE: -- I don't have to win this for myself. I don't -- I don't have to have -- I don't feel like I have to have the title or the victory for personal reasons at all. I do believe very strongly that the stakes are so high in this election. We have the opportunity to build on this historic progress we've been making, to create a start for the 21st century that really opens up all kinds of opportunities and possibilities for our children and grandchildren. I just became a grandfather eight months ago, and that -- that gives you -- you know - a new lease on the future. And all of us look toward the future in terms of our responsibility for those that come after us. And I think that what -- the decisions that will be made by the next president during these coming four years are going to be so crucial.
We've got to keep our prosperity going -- not squander it with a risky tax scheme. We've got to reach out and make sure that nobody is left behind. We need to continue closing the gap between rich and poor. In this information age when the majority of our businesses can't find trained, educated employees for the positions they have open, we've got to -- we've got to have dramatic revolutionary improvements in our public schools, in the productivity of education, treating teachers like the professionals they are, setting higher standards, having accountability for results and giving them the resources and reforms that are needed. We've got to confront the environmental issues and expand access to health care and have restrictions on access to guns by the people who shouldn't have them and protect a woman's right to choose, and make our communities more livable. I --
JIM LEHRER: You can do this? You can do all of this?
AL GORE: Absolutely. Our country can.
JIM LEHRER: But you, Al Gore, as president, can do all of this?
AL GORE: The American people can do all these things -- if we have the right kinds of tools in place, if we don't squander our prosperity and put it at risk to give -- you know -- on this risky tax approach that the American people don't -- don't want -- if we listen to the American people and unlock the potential of our country and make these sensible but sweeping changes, yes, I think our country can reach these goals. It's an unprecedented opportunity, and I'm excited about it.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much.
AL GORE: Thank you, Jim.