"Arrogance of Power. Today I Weep for my Country."
Speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate
March 19th, 2003
Arrogance of Power |
Today, I Weep for my Country...
By US Senator Robert Byrd
Speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate
March 19, 2003, Published by CommonDreams.org
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
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
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 of choice.
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
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
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
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