As the situation in Iraq continues to spiral out of control, an anxious nation watches. Despite assurances to the American people that our troops would be welcomed with open arms as liberators, U.S. soldiers are increasingly being met with guns and car bombs. The bombing at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad has clearly exposed our vacant policy in Iraq. The American people are told to be patient, that winning the peace will take time. Meanwhile, the frustration of the Iraqi people grows by the day, as does their anger. The inability of the United States even to restore basic amenities further fuels the fire.
Before the war began, I urged the president to think through the consequences. There was no doubt as to the military outcome of war between the United States and Iraq; our might was unquestioned. But I was very concerned about the repercussions that would follow, especially if we were unable to persuade key allies to join our effort.
Today I urge President Bush to review his options. It is time to ask the world community not only for assistance in restoring peace and security in Iraq but also for participation in moving Iraq toward self-government. While the secretary of state has opened a dialogue with the United Nations, it must be a true exchange and not a U.S. monologue.
What has become tragically clear is that the United States has no strong plan for turning Iraq over to the Iraqi people and is quickly losing even its ability to maintain order. The administration is stumbling through the dark, hoping by luck to find the lighted path to peace and stability.
Despite the best hopes for an Iraqi democracy, the Iraqi people and the world see only the worst fears of occupation. Instead of inspiring steps toward self-government, we witness hit-and-run murders of U.S. soldiers, terrorist attacks and sabotage. Our military action in Iraq has forged a caldron of contempt for America, a dangerous brew that may poison the efforts of peace throughout the Middle East and result in the rapid invigoration of worldwide terrorism.
The president's stubborn insistence that much of the world be shut out of real participation in the rebuilding effort in Iraq is obviously costing lives. In addition, it is costing the United States credibility in Iraq and around the globe. We promised to improve the quality of life, yet so far we have failed to deliver. As a result, increasing numbers of Iraqis see the United States only as occupier, not liberator.
Instead of giving the young people of Iraq a reason to turn away from the violence of terrorism, we have, through failures and unkept promises, fed the seeds of discontent. The inability of the United States to secure the peace in Iraq virtually guarantees al Qaeda a fertile field of new recruits.
War has proved far easier than peace. We had the weapons to win the war, but not the wisdom to secure the peace. The coalition of those who might be willing to share the burden of building a new Iraq will be harder to muster now. But the challenge is too great for the United States alone. The rapidly rising anti-American sentiment demands that an international effort be initiated before Iraq slips from decades of dictatorship to decades of chaos.
The administration's reconstruction effort is costing the American people $1 billion a week. It is costing the lives of American soldiers and of civilians from many nations. Only an entirely closed mind could fail to grasp the need for a change in course. Close cooperation with the international community might yet yield a plan for peace and security for the people of Iraq. Haughty statements and unilateral actions will not advance our cause. We must work with other countries to forge what we cannot achieve alone: a lasting peace for Iraq and, in fact, for the Middle East region as a whole.
A hallmark of true leadership is the ability to admit when one is wrong and to learn from errors. Candidate George W. Bush spoke about the need for humility from a great and powerful nation. He said, "Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we refuse the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power - or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." It is time for the Bush administration to swallow its false pride and return to that philosophy of humility before it is too late.
The writer is a Democratic senator from West Virginia.
Sen. Byrd's sentiment assume Byrd means
we should have left Saddam alone to continue
his nasty rule.
What the opponents are missing is that Byrd,
and many others, believe that the UN was
doing its job just fine until the Bush bull ran
through the china shop wearing blinders.
Bush's only rationale for what amounts to a
unilateral attack was that we could not afford
to wait until the UN inspectors finished their
methodical job. Well, it's 4 and a half months
later and we still have ZERO evidence of any
threat whatsoever, not only to the US, but to
his own people. So where is that "clear and
present" danger that Powell clucked off at his
Feb 5 presentation to the UN? Where are his
"solid sources"? Why is Bush not demanding
answers from his intelligence agencies and
When the anti-war people speak up, most of
them are most definitely NOT defending
Saddam! To believe that is an irrational
mental leap in logic. Rather, those people
subscribe to the notion that a nation must
actually do some real due diligence before
striking. The USA, sadly, is negligent in that
regard and it is an embarrassment that the
rest of the world sees this clearly and has
lowered their opinion of our great nation. It will
take many many years for us to recover all of
that good will. The pro-war population must
reconcile that and be prepared for the
consequences of the Bush administration's
Also Robert Espy claims that Bush's unilateral actions will benefit both Iraq and the US greatly...exactly the opposite will be the case. The US has lost any shred of credibility it had left with this monstrous invasion. A lethal addiction to Oil and servitude to the zionist terrorists and warmongers is not surefire way of becoming a rogue state.
In my opinion, war was not necessary, unless of course those pushing for war had ulterior motives that could only be accomplished by force. It may have taken several more years for the old regime to completely turn away from its brutal dictatorial practices, but it was clearly showing positive signs of change before the war. Perhaps a little more patience and some creative diplomacy by the Bush administration could have gotten Iraq moving in the right direction without a war. Well, I know I may sound a bit naive, but that approach couldn't have made it any worse than it is now.
As much as the 'war' with Iraq sickened me, the 'containment' of Saddam sickened me more. Truly, Mr. Byrd was antiwar and pro containment but, while the continuing the containment would save American lives in the short term, it would save neither American nor Iraqi lives in the long. Is that not obvious?
When we 'contain' Saddam, what we are really doing is containing the people of Iraq. Containing them from the government of their choice, containing them from reaping the benefits and wealth of their nation, and most tragically, containing them from the enjoyment of the freedom to do as they will so long as it harms no other; to say as they please so long as they speak the truth. Since it is not a democracy in any real since of the word, we, as a nation, allowed him to continue his dictatorship and live as he pleases at the expense of the Iraqi people. That, my friends is a disgrace; all the more so because we, Americans, had an influential hand in his coming to power in the first place.
Whom does Byrd think he is fooling? Certainly not me, for if I know the history, certainly so does he.
Sometimes it takes a broad view and forward thinking to decide what is best. Having said that, I cannot fault Bush for his. His actions may seem rash, grandiose even, but in the long run, both nations will prosper greatly.