Today I weep for my country...

U.S. 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 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 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.

 

"Robert Byrd official portrait" by U. S. Senate - http://byrd.senate.gov/newsroom/photos/byrd_formal_smile_highres.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_Byrd_official_portrait.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Robert_Byrd_official_portrait.jpg

Comments

The country and world would be a better place if there were more people like Sen. Byrd out there.

Location

Texas

Bird not in the Klan? No blacks in Wises hometown either? 55 counties in his state and 55 registered militias. no klan there. LOLLOL

Location

redneck, Country

This speech was courageous. In spite of his checkered past, the Senator proved that patriotism does not mean supporting the wrong acts of leaders. And supporting our troops does not nessesarily means supporting this "war of choice" and this administration.

Location

New York

This Senator along with all the others, like Kennedy, Kerry, Lieberman, all the Democratic wannabe Presidents, fighting among themselves, are destroying the Democratic Party. They are all hypocrites, policizing everything in attempt to undermine the Bush administration no matter what it takes, including hypocrisy, out right untruths, and personal attacks. They cannot admit their collective failure with the Clinton administration and their condoning of immorality and complete lack of courage and effective leadership by Clinton and themselves.Hopefully they are on their way out by the voters or forced retirement.

Location

Novato, California

Byrd is merely a hypocrite. This speech was written by the hands of a man who was responsible for the s & mistreatment of hundreds of Black Americans during the times of segregation in America. He was present during the events in Selma, Alabama and other such violent & racist events during the 1950s & 1960s. The speech is good, the speaker can be thought of being quite the opposite.

Location

UK

Senator Robert Bird's rhetoric is belied by the facts:He has the dubious distintion of being a former member of the KKK, so any attmept by him at moral judgement of anyone else is shamefully hipocritical and dishonest.Our image as a "strong yet benevolent peacekeeper" has only been further reinforced in the hearts and minds of those people of the world who love or yearn for freedom by our actions in Iraq, and those who hate us now, did so before the war and will continue to do so no matter what we do because they hate everything we believe in and stand for. Our friends do not "distrust us." France is anyhing BUT our friend.Germany and Russia are not our friends either. all of their quesioning and disputing our word and intensions have been proven to be a giant hoax after we found documents proving that they were paid off with lucrative contracts, money and discounted oil.Those discusting, evil, hypocrital s.o.b'sWe bent over backwards to "reason" with the UN, but they are against no matter what we do because we lead the world and they want to do that instead. In the end, the UN is an irrelevant, immoral, impotant joke that would not even inforce their own resolutions against Saddam after over a deacde of his deception. The UN is sickening. And you cannot reason with Saddam. That is obvious to the whole world.all of Bird's statement have been proven wrong by the way we have conducted the war against Saddam. Our image is only made poor by the wahabis and they must go-as soon as possibleBird is absolutely discusting and doesn't deserve to live in America.

Location

California

postnote: If you want to see what I'm talking about just tune in to Fox and listen to the dogs barking.

Location

Schaumburg,IL

Mafia, racism, IRS, these aren't words to be afraid of or the connotations behind them. The dirty word of the 21st century is Zionist. Look around you, they're everywhere and they go blue in the face denying they have anything to do with the turmoil in the middle east. Do you see Netanyahu, Barak, or any of the others? Theres a calculated purpose behind the low profile! They control Washington, their tentacles are spread everywhere, if anyone so much as utters a word against them, as in the case of Senator James Moran they are forced to retract their statements and apologize. And of course the standard outcry is that you are an anti semite! The Dems need to get their act together before it's too late or they'll be busy doing damage control for the image of America for years to come!

Location

Schaumburg, IL

Good speech. Caroline -- this man may have once been a member of the KKK but he is obviously a changed man. Possibly much less racist then the average human. Definitely less then Mister Bush. I don't agree about his comments on the motives for 9/11 -- obviously it was an act of rage/hatred--it wasn't "...to stop the daily encroachment of western values upon their cultures." It is well known that Hater in Cheif (UBLaden) doesn't appreciate American troops in Saudi -- and isn't appreciative of the wonderful hospitatlity and housing offered to Palestinan refugees by the Isreali Defense Forces. If he hated American Culture so much he shouldn't be wearing those TIMEX watches...which he was in those video-rants displayed on CNN in the last two years.

Location

Chicago

Some fine words delivered in difficult circumstances.While a nation is at war, unity is paramount. However, bombing from the air, a city with no air defences and a large civilian population is more than an act of war. It is a massacre unfolding in front of our eyes. All civilised peoples everywhere have a duty to voice their strong objections and abhorance at these events. The US Senators who are in a position to have an influence on these events more directly than most have a moral duty to take steps to end ths senseless slaughter of human beings, or bear a responsibility for the long term consequences which will be felt throughout the world and in the US, for a very long time to come.

Location

Ayub

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