What is it with this recent trend of American officials and former officials going abroad to criticize their own country and enflame the passions of our nation’s enemies?

Last week, we witnessed two more examples of this phenomenon.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who came within a hanging chad or two of becoming president, on a paid junket to Saudi Arabia, told the Arab and Muslim world that America responded illegally, unfairly and harshly to Arabs and Muslims following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Gore claimed Arabs had been “indiscriminately rounded up” and held in “unforgivable” conditions.

“The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake,” Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. “The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

He actually said what America had done was “just unforgivable.”

“Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it’s wrong,” Gore said. “I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country.”

Now, Gore is entitled, like anyone else, to his uninformed, wrong-headed opinion. But this was the height of irresponsibility. He put American lives in more danger. He provided excuses and rationalizations for more terror attacks on Americans. He gave the Arab and Islamic world more verbal ammunition to bolster its case for killing.

It would be bad enough to say these things on American soil. What is “unforgivable” is attacking your own country on hostile turf.

Likewise, Bill Clinton, the former president, got into the act a few days later in Pakistan.

The precise words Clinton uttered may never be known. But here is how it was portrayed in the Muslim world: The former president of the United States called for the conviction of media outlets that published cartoons satirizing Muhammad.

This proves my point – it’s not just what you say but where you say it. Clinton claims he believes in freedom of the press, but his remarks were used by regimes that control the press to justify such controls. Clinton didn’t calm the situation. He didn’t throw water on the fires of hate in the Islamic world. He poured gasoline on the crisis. He very likely endangered the lives of independent journalists throughout the world with his caustic attacks on satire and the free expression of opinion.

We’ve seen this kind of thing over and over again in recent years. We’ve witnessed former President Jimmy Carter making a fool of himself and attacking his country on foreign soil.

Responsibility, patriotism, decorum, diplomacy, self-restraint are all archaic ideas to these big-mouth louts who tell audiences of America haters what they want to hear.

And they do it for money!

  • Gore was paid big dollars for betraying his country in Saudi Arabia.

  • Clinton was paid big dollars for pointing the finger of indictment at the West in Pakistan.

  • Carter is paid big dollars for playing the treacherous fool all over the world.

I don’t suppose there is any way to rein them in. Personally, I think anyone who conducts himself in this way should be barred from re-entering the country. That’s not likely to happen in this era of America-bashing.

But, at least, Americans should understand what is happening. At least Americans should hold these officials and former officials accountable for their actions. At the very least, they need to be treated for what they are when they come home – irresponsible, gutless traitors.

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