Today, I Weep for my Country...
by US Senator Robert Byrd
Speech delivered on
the floor of the US Senate
March 19, 2003 3:45pm
I believe in this beautiful
country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent
Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers.
Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals
that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their
sacrifice and their strength.
But, today I weep for
my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy
heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper.
The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust
us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.
Instead of reasoning
with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination.
Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves.
We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and
feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its
firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on
terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international
body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place.
We flaunt our superpower
status with arrogance. We treat UN Security Council members like ingrates
who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet.
Valuable alliances are split.
After war has ended,
the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq.
We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe.
The case this Administration
tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of
falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the
world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war
There is no credible
information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. The twin towers fell because
a world-wide terrorist group, Al Qaeda, with cells in over 60 nations, struck
at our wealth and our influence by turning our own planes into missiles,
one of which would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol
except for the brave sacrifice of the
passengers on board.
The brutality seen on
September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we have witnessed around the
globe are the violent and desperate efforts by extremists to stop the daily
encroachment of western values upon their cultures. That is what we fight.
It is a force not confined to borders. It
is a shadowy entity with many faces, many names, and many addresses.
But, this Administration
has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes
of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible
villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he
is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein,
we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist
our global war on terrorism
may have already taken flight.
The general unease surrounding
this war is not just due to "orange alert." There is a pervasive
sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will
we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How
great is the danger at home?
A pall has fallen over
the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on
the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and
daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.
What is happening to
this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our
friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting
a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might?
How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the
turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?
Why can this President
not seem to see that America's true power lies not in its will to intimidate,
but in its ability to inspire?
War appears inevitable.
But, I continue to hope that the cloud will lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet
turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will somehow still prevail. I along with
millions of Americans will pray for the safety of our troops, for the innocent
civilians in Iraq, and for the security of our homeland.
May God continue to
bless the United States of America in the
troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the
present eludes us.