Much of the blogosphere is presently up in arms about Al Gore comparing the “battle against climate change” to that against Hitler and Nazi Germany. But in fact Gore’s remarks are not particularly novel. Only one month ago, none other than French President Nicolas Sarkozy made precisely the same comparison during the ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Indeed, Sarkozy even added that the battle against “a capitalism of speculators and rentiers” was yet another similar struggle. Here is the relevant passage from Sarkozy’s speech as translated from the official French transcript:
All those who fought against Nazism and Fascism dreamt of building a better world in which right would replace force.
We know that there is still a long way to go.
But we also know what a united Europe and an America that is faithful to its values can accomplish together. The great totalitarianisms of the 20th Century have been defeated. The threats that today weigh upon the future of humanity are of a different nature. But they are no less serious.
What will become of the world if global warming deprives hundreds of millions of men, women, and children of water and food? If a capitalism of speculators and rentiers destroys the jobs of millions of people? If extreme poverty drives a part of humanity to desperation? What would become of the world if, as a result of a cowardly withdrawal [from the fight], the world’s democracies would give free rein to terrorism and fanaticism? If they refused to defend human rights and the rights of nations?
It must be said that Sarkozy’s list is highly inclusive and it is notable that the war on terror and (if only implicitly) Islamic extremism at least made the grade. It is also notable, however, that the latter only figures in fourth place — behind the ostensible struggles against global warming and capitalism!
Moreover, Sarkozy’s choice of comparisons is not the only historically dubious aspect of his speech. His suggestion that a “united Europe” somehow contributed to the defeat of “the great totalitarianisms of the 20th Century” — hence, presumably including National Socialism — is an even more obvious howler.