Senate Remarks by Robert C. Byrd  (West Virginia)

March 19, 2003

"The Arrogance of Power"

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.