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AfriGeneas Discuss! Forum Archive 2

Re: [Politics] US Senator Robert Byrd - Senate Flo

Senator Byrd has been rehabilitated.
Glad he has/had the courage to speak out.

: Very interesting reading!!!

: Senate Floor Speech

: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

: By US Senator Robert Byrd

: D-West Virginia

:
: ______________________________________________________________________________

: To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human
: experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the
: brink of battle, every American on some level must be
: contemplating the horrors of war.

: Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent --ominously,
: dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt
: to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular
: war.
: There is nothing.

: We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by
: our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of
: events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there
: much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of
: engaging in this particular war.

: And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no
: simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if
: it materializes represents a turning point in U.S. foreign
: policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the
: world.

: This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a
: revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an
: unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that
: the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a
: nation that is not imminently
: threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical
: new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to
: be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And
: it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making
: many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on
: our -- or some other nation's -- hit list.

: High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear
: weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack
: against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than
: this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where
: globalism has tied the
: vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely
: together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored
: alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging
: worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust,
: misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S.
: leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global
: terrorism which existed after September 11.

: Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with
: little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur.
: Family members are being called to active military duty, with no
: idea of the duration of their stay or what horrors they may
: face. Communities are being left with less than adequate police
: and fire protection. Other essential services are also
: short-staffed. The mood of the nation is grim. The economy is
: stumbling. Fuel prices are rising and may soon spike higher.

: This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must
: be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal.
: In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a
: large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next
: decade and taken
: us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This
: Administration's domestic policy has put many of our states in
: dire financial condition, underfunding scores of essential
: programs for our people. This Administration has fostered
: policies which have slowed economic growth. This Administration
: has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for
: our elderly. This Administration has been slow to provide
: adequate funding for homeland
: security. This Administration has been reluctant to better protect
: our long and porous borders.

: In foreign policy, this Administration has failed to find Osama bin
: Laden. In fact, just yesterday we heard from him again
: marshaling his forces and urging them to kill. This
: Administration has split traditional alliances, possibly
: crippling, for all time, International order-keeping entities
: like the United Nations and NATO. This Administration has called
: into question the traditional worldwide perception of the United
: States as well-intentioned, peacekeeper. This Administration has
: turned the patient art of diplomacy into threats, labeling, and
: name calling of the sort that reflects quite poorly on the
: intelligence and sensitivity of our
: leaders, and which will have consequences for years to come.

: Calling heads of state pygmies, labeling whole countries as evil,
: denigrating powerful European allies as irrelevant -- these
: types of crude insensitivities can do our great nation no good.
: We may have massive military might, but we cannot fight a global
: war on terrorism alone. We need the cooperation and friendship
: of our time-honored allies as well as the newer found friends
: whom we can attract with our wealth. Our awesome military
: machine will do us little good if
: we suffer another devastating attack on our homeland which severely
: damages our economy. Our military manpower is already stretched
: thin and we will need the augmenting support of those nations
: who can supply troop strength, not just sign letters cheering us
: on.

: The war in Afghanistan has cost us $37 billion so far, yet there is
: evidence that terrorism may already be starting to regain its
: hold in that region. We have not found bin Laden, and unless we
: secure the peace in Afghanistan, the dark dens of terrorism may
: yet again flourish in that remote and devastated land. Pakistan
: as well is at risk of destabilizing forces.

: This Administration has not finished the first war against
: terrorism and yet it is eager to embark on another conflict with
: perils much greater than those in Afghanistan. Is our attention
: span that short? Have we not learned that after winning the war
: one must always secure the peace? And yet we hear little about
: the aftermath of war in Iraq. In the absence of plans,
: speculation abroad is rife. Will we seize Iraq's oil fields,
: becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply
: of that nation's oil for the foreseeable future? To whom do we
: propose to hand the reigns of power after Saddam Hussein?

: Will our war inflame the Muslim world resulting in devastating
: attacks on Israel? Will Israel retaliate with its own nuclear
: arsenal? Will the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian governments be
: toppled by radicals, bolstered by Iran which has much closer
: ties to terrorism than Iraq? Could a disruption of the world's
: oil supply lead to a world-wide recession? Has our senselessly
: bellicose language and our callous disregard of the interests
: and opinions of other nations increased the global race to join
: the nuclear club and made proliferation an even more lucrative
: practice for nations which need the income?

: In only the space of two short years this reckless and arrogant
: Administration has initiated policies which may reap disastrous
: consequences for years. One can understand the anger and shock
: of any President after the savage attacks of September 11. One
: can appreciate the frustration of having only a shadow to chase
: and an amorphous, fleeting enemy on which it is nearly
: impossible to exact retribution. But to turn one's frustration
: and anger into the
: kind of extremely destabilizing and dangerous foreign policy
: debacle that the world is currently witnessing is inexcusable
: from any Administration charged with the awesome power and
: responsibility of guiding the destiny of the greatest superpower
: on the planet. Frankly many of the pronouncements made by this
: Administration are outrageous. There is no other word.

: Yet this chamber is hauntingly silent. On what is possibly the eve
: of horrific infliction of death and destruction on the
: population of the nation of Iraq -- a population, I might add,
: of which over 50% is under age15 -- this chamber is silent. On
: what is possibly only days before we send thousands of our own
: citizens to face unimagined horrors of chemical and biological
: warfare -- this chamber is silent. On the eve of what could
: possibly be a vicious terrorist attack in retaliation for our
: attack on Iraq, it is business as usual in the United States
: Senate.

: We are truly "sleepwalking through history." In my heart
: of hearts I pray that this great nation and its good and
: trusting citizens are not in for a rudest of awakenings. To
: engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always
: be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the
: judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked
: military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is
: "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This
: war is not necessary at this time.

: Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake
: was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to
: now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps
: there is still a way if we allow more time.

Messages In This Thread

[Politics] US Senator Robert Byrd - Senate Floor Speech
Re: [Politics] US Senator Robert Byrd - Senate Flo

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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