From Our Archives: Arrogance of Power
Today, I Weep for my Country...
Speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate
March 19, 2003 3:45pm
I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and
gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have
marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation
after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that
underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of
their sacrifice and their strength.
But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent
months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America
one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has
changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is
disputed, our intentions are questioned.
Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand
obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam
Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new
doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by
many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its
firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the
war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any
international body. As a result, the world has become a much more
We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat UN Security
Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by
lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split.
After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much
more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's
image around the globe.
The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation
with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and
circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the
necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of
There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11.
The twin towers fell because a world-wide terrorist group, Al Qaeda,
with cells in over 60 nations, struck at our wealth and our
influence by turning our own planes into missiles, one of which
would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol
except for the brave sacrifice of the passengers on board.
The brutality seen on September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we
have witnessed around the globe are the violent and desperate
efforts by extremists to stop the daily encroachment of western
values upon their cultures. That is what we fight. It is a force
not confined to borders. It is a shadowy entity with many faces,
many names, and many addresses.
But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and
grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the
twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can
see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong
villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein,
we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends
to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight.
The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to "orange
alert." There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many
questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the
cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home?
A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty
to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while
scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their
duty in Iraq.
What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which
ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk
undermining international order by adopting a radical and
doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can
we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries
out for diplomacy?
Why can this President not seem to see that America's true power lies
not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?
War appears inevitable. But, I continue to hope that the cloud will
lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will
somehow still prevail. I along with millions of Americans will pray
for the safety of our troops, for the innocent civilians in Iraq,
and for the security of our homeland. May God continue to bless the
United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we
somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us.