Today, I Weep for my Country...
A speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate by
US Senator Robert Byrd
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
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.