February 14, 2003

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences
by US Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Speech - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

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.

Please, if you never read another word on this silly weblog, read the rest of this address. Please.

Posted by fred1st at February 14, 2003 07:39 PM | TrackBack

Sorry, but Robert Byrd is as much my idea of a moralist as are Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

The Dems stand passively mute because they are fearful of losing power. Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by: feste at February 14, 2003 11:11 PM

Thanks for the link, Fred. Mr. Byrd has long been a hero to the people in this region, I am glad he is still fighting the good fight after all these years.

The squandered surplus, the lost allies, and the wrecked economy are just the tip of the iceberg. We now live in a country where the police have unfettered access to your library records and bookstore receipts. Your e-mail correspondence is subject to federal review. Women's rights are being eroded at a horrifying pace. Our national parks are under attack. Our air, water and natural resources are being sold to the highest bidder. Our president, who was accepted into Yale with mediocre grades and a 1206 S.A.T. score, wants to eliminate Affirmative Action policies at our state colleges.

W. will go down in history alongside Reagan, Nixon and Hoover, one more failed Republican president who left a legacy of broken families, polluted landscapes and failed economic policies. I do not doubt that our great country will survive the next two years, but our children will carry a huge burden of debt and diminished expectations for years to come.

Posted by: ron at February 15, 2003 02:21 AM

Moralist. Feste, I'm confused about your apparent disparaging use of the word unless morals are bad. Some are. But I don't see them in Senator Byrds words. I suppose morals imply some standard and his words do suggest he believes our leadership has failed to live up to those standards in many sad and serious ways, by both omission in their silence, and commition, acquiesing to the spell somehow cast by the striking figure of our leader who may not speak for them, but his is the only voice the world is hearing. I guess maybe I'm a moralist too, believing that there is such a thing as 'wrong'. I believe what we are doing, and particularly the way we are doing it is wrong. No matter what the outcome of the coming debacle.

For clarification... how is Mr. Bush not a moralist, as he has so clearly drawn the line between those who are good (us) and, if we just wait a few months, everyone else? Entire nations are now EVIL. I would have to say that comes closer to 'moralizing' than Senator Byrd's sad words.

Posted by: fredf at February 15, 2003 05:48 AM


I share your views but would debate the practical meaning of the word 'survive' in your final sentence. Extinction of our people seems unlikely, but of our national identity, purpose and honor.... the process is already well underway. And it is rather like virginity.... it is not lost in stages, and gone, we may never get it back.

Posted by: fredf at February 15, 2003 05:59 AM

I've read the piece twice. The second time I read it I started to become uncomfortable.

No, not uncomfortable.


Senator Byrd comments about the present administration's record being dismal made me think about FDR's first years in office. They were even more dismal than George W. Bush's. The one thing that truly made FDR great was his response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the threats from the rest of the Axis powers.

Better to confront an evil while it is still manageable rather than when it starts raining death and destruction upon us and others.

Senator Byrd brings up that we've already spent $37 billion in Afghanistan and terrorist activity is apparently starting up again (it never really stopped). What would he suggest? Should we abandon the Afghan people again because it might be hard to help them? I seem to recall a speech by John F. Kennedy when he was proposing that we go to the moon, when he said, "We choose to go to the moon and do these other things not because it is easy, but because it is hard."

Too often it is easy to do the wrong thing or to do nothing at all. Little effort is required. It is often very hard to do the right thing. We pay the price in blood, in lost lives.

It might be easier to understand where I'm coming from if you check out this and this.

Posted by: DCE at February 15, 2003 10:50 AM

I think the crux of Senator Byrd's very measured language in expressing his concerns are the following:

"The 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 are the 800 pound gorilla of the new world order. We alone are good, we alone are right, and we'll sleep by God anywhere we want to.

Posted by: fredf at February 15, 2003 11:33 AM

Fred, I have enjoyed your fine articles about life in Floyd...but you will lose me with political discussions, especially if the ideoloogy is the same as Sen Byrd. Please don't disappoint...

Posted by: lij at February 16, 2003 03:00 AM

Byrd is a rank opportunist, a partisan with an agenda and a colorful manner of speaking.

Byrd claims that he'd be asking the same questions to a Democratic president, that Congress shouldn't give the President a blank check, and that we should let the United Nations make a decision first before we act.


It took all of about two minutes to look up the 1999 Senate Resolution regarding the use of force in Yugoslavia, which Byrd voted for, and the 1991 Gulf War authorization, which the Senator voted against.

In Yugoslavia, there was little to no national security interest and no UN authorization. NATO refused to act in Kosovo. The resolution made no mention of the "deadlines","termination" or "sunset language" that Byrd indignantly calls for with regard to the Iraq resolution. In other words, he gave Clinton a blank check.

In fact, Senator Byrd didn't hesitate to "commit the blood and treasure of the American people" in 1998 to a cause representing less of an immediate threat to America than Iraq does now. Byrd claims thatvoting against a resolution on Iraq will help, "maintain the face of America as a country which believes in justice, the rule of law,freedom and liberty and the rights of all people to work out their ultimate destiny?"

Where was such sanctimony when he voted to start dropping bombs on a sovereign country engaged in an age-old ethnic war?

How genuine is his concern over spending when he larded on an amendment to aid the steel industry in W-Va to a tune of a $1.5 billion rider to the
appropriations bill funding the military expenses for the Serbian campaign?

Has he given a flowery speech about the need to clean up the horrid environmental mess we left in the Balkans?

You may have valid reasons to oppose Bush on
his policies and Iraq, but Byrd's speech contains only pretty, pretty, pretty rhetoric.

Posted by: feste at February 16, 2003 09:00 PM

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