Byrd blasts Bush policies
By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
Sen. Robert Byrd last week unleashed a scathing indictment of the Bush administration from the floor of the U.S. Senate. He also took dead aim at his compromised colleagues there.
Here are some excerpts from his remarks, which the reader most likely has not heard nor read. National media, for some reason, did not seem to be aware of them (or want to make us aware of stand).
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.
Byrd pointed to the magnitude of the policy shift embodied in the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. He also lashed out at the behavior of senior administration officials toward our friends and allies in other nations.
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 Sept. 11.
Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur. 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. The mood of the nation is grim. The economy is stumbling. Fuel prices are rising and may soon spike higher.
Byrd said the responsibility for all this and more rests directly on the Bush regime.
This administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that record is dismal. In that scant two years, 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 adminstrations domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, underfunding scores of essential programs for our people. This administration has fostered policies which have slowed economic growth. This administration has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for our elderly. This administration has been slow to provide adequate funding for homeland security. This administration has been reluctant to better protect our long and porous borders.
In foreign policy, this administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden. This administration has split traditonal alliances, possibly crippling, 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.
The senator noted administration behavior in calling some foreign leaders pygmies, terming whole nations as evil and scorning our European allies, calling them irrelevant. He also noted the situation in Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan has cost us $37 billion so far, yet there is evidence that terrorism may already be starting to regain its hold in that region. We have not found bin Laden, and unless we secure the peace in Afghanistan, the dark dens of terrorism may yet again flourish in that remote and devastated land.
Pakistan as well is at risk of destabilizing forces. This administration has not finished the first war against terrorism and yet it is eager to embark on another conflict with perils much greater than those in Afghanistan. Is our attention span that short? Have we not learned that after winning the war one must always secure the peace?
Byrd also wondered how we intend to deal with the energy riches of Iraq and the Mideast.
Will we seize Iraqs oil fields, becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply of that nations oil for the foreseeable future? To whom do we propose to hand the reigns of power after Saddam Hussein?
The senator also expressed concerns that disruption of the global oil supply by a war could foster a worldwide recession and trigger an increase in nuclear proliferation.
Byrd said: In only the space of two short years, this reckless and arrogant administration has initiated policies which may reap disastrous consequences for years.
Byrd concluded: 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. This war is not necessary at this time.