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to reclaim and defend American values
of peace, justice and democracy at home and abroad.

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Thursday, March 6, 2003 members of Patriots for Peace met on the steps of the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse to present the Senator's office with 1000 signatures in support of the Senator's statement on the Senate floor of February 12, 2003.

Remarks by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd

February 12, 2003

[excerpts] On the silence of Congress:

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.

On the global implications of the Bush doctrine of preemptive war: 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.

On weakening our nation's position and prestige throughout the world: There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after 9/11.

On the draining of human and material resources from our communities: Family members are being called to active military duty, with no idea of the duration of their stay or what horrors they may face. Communities are being left with less than adequate police and fire protection. Other essential services are also short-staffed.

On the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration: this administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This administration's domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, underfunding scores of essential programs for our people.

On destabilizing global diplomacy: This administration has split traditional alliances, possibly crippling, possibly for all time, international order-keeping entities like the United Nations and NATO.
This 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.

On weakening our position in the struggle against terrorism: We may have massive military might, but we cannot fight a global war on terrorism alone.
Our awesome military machine will do us little good if we suffer another devastating attack on our homeland which severely damages our economy.

On the possible consequences of preemptive war: Will our war inflame the Muslim world resulting in devastating attacks against Israel?
Will Israel retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal?
Could a disruption of the world's oil supply lead to a world wide recession?
Has our senselessly bellicose language and our callous disregard of the interests and opinions of other nations increased the global race to join the nuclear club and made proliferation an even more lucrative practice for nations which need the income?

On the dangers and immorality of this war: To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice.
I truly must question the judgment of any president who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50 percent children is 'in the highest moral traditions of our country.'

On the possibility of peace: This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is now to find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.

[Full Text of Speech]

MORE by Senator Byrd

 
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