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An Open Letter To Robert Byrd
Published on Friday, October 11, 2002 by CommonDreams.org
An Open Letter To Robert Byrd
by Eli Beckerman
 

Thank you, Senator. For all of the flattery bestowed upon each other on the Senate floor, yours was deserved.

Home sick from work, I watched the so-called debate on the Senate floor. I watched the so-called debate on the House floor. Hours upon hours of it. And it made me sick. But you were there to set them straight, if only they could listen. You were there to rightly question the motives for and the repercussions from this action. You even led me to tears, proclaiming that the public -- watching on television, calling your office and sending in emails -- were your heroes.

On this sad day, sir, you were my hero.

The day is sad because I just found out the Senate voted 77-23 in support of the Iraq resolution. Senators who have still unanswered questions voted in favor. My own Senator John Kerry -- a good bet to run for President in 2004 -- asked some of the toughest questions of our President. Still unanswered, he voted in favor of the resolution. Could it be politics that led him that way? I would hope not, because he has breathed himself the horrors of war. But I hope for a lot of things that will never be. Hope means very little to me these days.

I saw the lies spray forth from Senator's mouths -- Senators who you called distinguished and good just before they spoke. Were they simply misinformed, or were they propagandizing this call to arms in order to simplify the mission for our men and women in the armed forces? How easy it must be to drop a bomb when you are sure it is Saddam Hussein on the receiving end. And it only gets easier when you think about the Kurds and Iranians that he gassed. "His own people!" they said on the Senate floor, again and again. As if our image of Saddam Hussein could grow worse than it already is.

This rush to war is political and we all know it. The more details the American people get, the less enthusiastic we are to enter this fight. The administration parades its stuff with the pomp and arrogance unbefitting an American President. In the middle of the Congressional debates -- debates this President tried to avoid in the first place -- our very own CIA director hoisted a very telling letter into the record. This letter made the claim that contrary to Bush's rhetoric in his speech to the nation, our action on Saddam would provoke him to use his "weapons of mass destruction". Contrary to Bush's rhetoric, our intelligence community states that many of Bush's allegations are not supported by intelligence data. But this letter little influenced the "debate".

Bush outlined a dangerous new approach to world affairs last month in his National Security Strategy document, commonly called the Bush Doctrine. And yet no Senators who rose in favor of the resolution against Iraq acknowledged this drastic new policy doctrine. You, Senator Byrd, were the one holding it up. Pointing out that the authors even failed to capitalize America's "constitution". The difference between our President and the Framers who crafted the Constitution that you hold so dearly, is that the Framers cared about future generations. I know that's a bold statement, one that could meet with a lot of anger. But I assure you it also meets with a lot of resonance across our lands and across the world. President Bush has not taken one single action as our leader to prove that he cares about future generations. Every policy he has embarked on is a policy that furthers the selfish motives of the people he surrounds himself with.

This single man -- of a humble, humble, mind -- has thrown 226 years of good will down the drain. People in countries once friendly to us are burning American flags. And I understand the sentiment. It is a direct condemnation of our foreign policy -- just as the World Trade Center and Pentagon terror attacks were in September of 2001. The difference of course, is that one is tolerable, the other is not. Both instances of indignation, however, warrant our attention. Our approach today, sadly, is to say these menaces only understand a show of might. We must speak their language, and bomb them until they reconsider their odds. We have even outlined to the rest of the world -- through Bush's horrifying security strategy document -- that we will not tolerate armies or arsenals that might challenge ours. We are the supreme superpower, now and always.

The Senators rising in favor of this resolution -- acquiescing to the President and abdicating their responsibility for declaring war -- spoke about learning from history. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. To them I say we are the empire here. And we can choose a road of peace, or we can write the story of our own demise.

Today I am sad. But I am hopeful. Beneath all the fear still lies the American spirit. It will rise up some day, I am hopeful.

Eli Beckerman
Somerville, MA.

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