Published on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
The Truth Will Emerge
by US Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Remarks - May 21, 2003
"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again, - -
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers."
Truth has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure
it. Distortion only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what
lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows,
truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually.
But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter.
The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely
realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore
uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently
in vogue. We see a lot of this today in politics. I see a lot of it
-- more than I would ever have believed -- right on this Senate Floor.
Regarding the situation in Iraq, it appears to this Senator that
the American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked
invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing
International law, under false premises. There is ample evidence that
the horrific events of September 11 have been carefully manipulated to
switch public focus from Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda who masterminded
the September 11th attacks, to Saddam Hussein who did not.
The run up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and
members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could
conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to
drones poised to deliver germ laden death in our major cities. We were
treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's
direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a
sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post
traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911.
It was the exploitation of fear.
It was a placebo for the anger.
Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation which has
seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration
has been brushed aside.
Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House
deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet
turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet
But, our costly and destructive bunker busting attack on Iraq seems
to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were
told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the
present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team
he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always
said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do,
Meanwhile Bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has
come up missing.The Administration assured the U.S. public and the
world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to protect our
people and the world from terrorism. It assiduously worked to alarm
the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden
until they virtually became one.
What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that
Iraq was no immediate threat to the U.S. Ravaged by years of
sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's
threatening death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard
so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string. Their
missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range. Their army was
quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well trained troops.
Presently our loyal military personnel continue their mission of
diligently searching for WMD. They have so far turned up only
fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons, and the occasional
buried swimming pool. They are misused on such a mission and they
continue to be at grave risk.
But, the Bush team's extensive hype of WMD in Iraq as justification
for a preemptive invasion has become more than embarrassing. It has
raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of
power. Were our troops needlessly put at risk? Were countless Iraqi
civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary? Was the
American public deliberately misled? Was the world?
What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators." The
facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically
attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable
despot, but "liberation" implies the follow up of freedom,
self-determination and a better life for the common people.
In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of "liberation," we
may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years.Despite our high-blown
claims of a better life for the Iraqi people, water is scarce, and
often foul, electricity is a sometime thing, food is in short supply,
hospitals are stacked with the wounded and maimed, historic treasures
of the region and of the Iraqi people have been looted, and nuclear
material may have been disseminated to heaven knows where, while U.S.
troops, on orders, looked on and guarded the oil supply.
Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and
refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies,
without benefit of competitive bidding, and the U.S. steadfastly
resists offers of U.N. assistance to participate. Is there any wonder
that the real motives of the U.S. government are the subject of
worldwide speculation and mistrust?
And in what may be the most damaging development, the U.S. appears
to be pushing off Iraq's clamor for self-government. Jay Garner has
been summarily replaced, and it is becoming all too clear that the
smiling face of the U.S. as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl of
an occupier. The image of the boot on the throat has replaced the
beckoning hand of freedom. Chaos and rioting only exacerbate that
image, as U.S. soldiers try to sustain order in a land ravaged by
poverty and disease.
"Regime change" in Iraq has so far meant anarchy, curbed only by an
occupying military force and a U.S. administrative presence that is
evasive about if and when it intends to depart.Democracy and Freedom
cannot be force fed at the point of an occupier's gun. To think
otherwise is folly. One has to stop and ponder.
How could we have been so impossibly naive?
How could we expect to easily plant a clone of U.S. culture,
values, and government in a country so riven with religious,
territorial, and tribal rivalries, so suspicious of U.S. motives, and
so at odds with the galloping materialism which drives the
As so many warned this Administration before it launched its
misguided war on Iraq, there is evidence that our crack down in Iraq is
likely to convince 1,000 new Bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the
type we have seen in the past several days. Instead of damaging the
terrorists, we have given them new fuel for their fury. We did not
complete our mission in Afghanistan because we were so eager to attack
Now it appears that Al Queda is back with a vengeance. We have
returned to orange alert in the U.S., and we may well have destabilized
the Mideast region, a region we have never fully understood. We have
alienated friends around the globe with our dissembling and our haughty
insistence on punishing former friends who may not see things quite our
way. The path of diplomacy and reason have gone out the window to be
replaced by force, unilateralism, and punishment for transgressions. I
read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey, our
longtime friend and strategic ally. It is astonishing that our
government is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its
affairs in accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic
institutions.Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race
as countries move ahead to develop WMD as a last ditch attempt to ward
off a possible preemptive strike from a newly belligerent U.S. which
claims the right to hit where it wants.
In fact, there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in
what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away
its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this
President to wage war at will.As if that were not bad enough, members
of Congress are reluctant to ask questions which are begging to be
How long will we occupy Iraq? We have already heard disputes
on the numbers of troops which will be needed to retain order.
What is the truth? How costly will the occupation and rebuilding
be? No one has given a straight answer. How will we afford this
long-term massive commitment, fight terrorism at home, address a
serious crisis in domestic healthcare, afford behemoth military
spending and give away billions in tax cuts amidst a deficit which has
climbed to over $340 billion for this year alone? If the President's
tax cut passes it will be $400 billion.
We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We
accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth
is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly. But, I contend
that, through it all, the people know. The American people
unfortunately are used to political shading, spin, and the usual
chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it
up to a point.
But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for
a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with
anger. When it comes to shedding American blood - - when it comes to
wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children,
callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of
lie - - not oil, not revenge, not reelection, not somebody's grand
pipedream of a democratic domino theory.And mark my words, the
calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the "powers
that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long.
Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge.
And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.