has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it. Distortion
only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans
may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of
squeezing out through the cracks, eventually. But the danger is that
at some point it may no longer matter. The danger is that damage is
done before the truth is widely realized. The reality is that, sometimes,
it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever
distortion is currently in vogue.
a lot of this today in politics. I see a lot of it more than I would
ever have believed right on this Senate floor. Regarding the situation
in Iraq, it appears to this senator that the American people may have
been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation,
in violation of longstanding International law, under false premises.
There is ample evidence that the horrific events of September 11 have
been carefully manipulated to switch public focus from Osama bin Laden
and Al Qaeda, who masterminded the September 11 attacks, to Saddam Hussein,
who did not. The run-up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President
and members of his Cabinet invoking every frightening image they could
conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to
drones poised to deliver germ-laden death in our major cities. We were
treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's
direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke
a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of
post-traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911.
It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger.
the war's end, every subsequent revelation that has seemed to refute
the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed
aside. Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House
deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet
turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet
will. But our costly and destructive bunker-busting attack on Iraq seems
to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were
told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the
present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team
he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always
said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do
indeed exist. Meanwhile, bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam
Hussein has come up missing. The Administration assured the US public
and the world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to
protect our people and the world from terrorism. It assiduously worked
to alarm the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin
Laden until they virtually became one.
become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate
threat to the United States. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did
not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's threatening, death-dealing
fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one
prototype made of plywood and string. Their missiles proved to be outdated
and of limited range. Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology
and our well-trained troops. Presently our loyal military personnel
continue their mission of diligently searching for WMDs. They have so
far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons
and the occasional buried swimming pool. They are misused on such a
mission, and they continue to be at grave risk. But the Bush team's
extensive hype of WMDs in Iraq as justification for a pre-emptive invasion
has become more than embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about
prevarication and the reckless use of power. Were our troops needlessly
put at risk? Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war
was not really necessary? Was the American public deliberately misled?
Was the world?
me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators."
The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically
attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot,
but "liberation" implies the follow-up of freedom, self-determination
and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in
Iraq is the result of liberation, we may have set the cause of freedom
back 200 years. Despite our high-blown claims of a better life for the
Iraqi people, water is scarce and often foul, electricity is a sometime
thing, food is in short supply, hospitals are stacked with the wounded
and maimed, historic treasures of the region and of the Iraqi people
have been looted, and nuclear material may have been disseminated to
heaven knows where, while US troops, on orders, looked on and guarded
the oil supply. Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure
and refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies,
without benefit of competitive bidding, and the United States steadfastly
resists offers of UN assistance to participate. Is there any wonder
that the real motives of the US government are the subject of worldwide
speculation and mistrust?
what may be the most damaging development, the United States appears
to be pushing off Iraq's clamor for self-government. Jay Garner has
been summarily replaced, and it is becoming all too clear that the smiling
face of the United States as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl
of an occupier. The image of the boot on the throat has replaced the
beckoning hand of freedom. Chaos and rioting only exacerbate that image,
as US soldiers try to sustain order in a land ravaged by poverty and
disease. "Regime change" in Iraq has so far meant anarchy,
curbed only by an occupying military force and a US administrative presence
that is evasive about if and when it intends to depart. Democracy and
freedom cannot be force-fed at the point of an occupier's gun. To think
otherwise is folly.
to stop and ponder. How could we have been so impossibly naïve?
How could we expect to easily plant a clone of US culture, values and
government in a country so riven with religious, territorial and tribal
rivalries, so suspicious of US motives and so at odds with the galloping
materialism that drives the Western-style economies? As so many warned
this Administration before it launched its misguided war on Iraq, there
is evidence that our crackdown thereis likely to convince 1,000 new
bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the type we have seen in the past
several days. Instead of damaging the terrorists, we have given them
new fuel for their fury. We did not complete our mission in Afghanistan
because we were so eager to attack Iraq. Now it appears that Al Qaeda
is back with a vengeance. We have returned to orange alert in the United
States, and we may well have destabilized the Mideast region, a region
we have never fully understood.
alienated friends around the globe with our dissembling and our haughty
insistence on punishing former friends who may not see things quite
our way. The path of diplomacy and reason have gone out the window,
to be replaced by force, unilateralism and punishment for transgressions.
I read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey,
our longtime friend and strategic ally. It is astonishing that our government
is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its affairs in
accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic institutions.
Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race as countries
move ahead to develop WMDs as a last-ditch attempt to ward off a possible
pre-emptive strike from a newly belligerent United States, which claims
the right to hit where it wants.
there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in what will
go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power
to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President
to wage war at will. As if that were not bad enough, members of Congress
are reluctant to ask questions that are begging to be asked. How long
will we occupy Iraq? We have already heard disputes on the number of
troops that will be needed to retain order. What is the truth? How costly
will the occupation and rebuilding be? No one has given a straight answer.
How will we afford this long-term, massive commitment, fight terrorism
at home, address a serious crisis in domestic healthcare, afford behemoth
military spending and give away billions in tax cuts amid a deficit
that has climbed to more than $340 billion for this year alone? If the
President's tax cut passes it will be $400 billion. We cower in the
shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and
shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular,
or may be politically costly.
contend that through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately
are used to political shading, spin and the usual chicanery they hear
from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But
there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time,
but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When
it comes to shedding American blood when it comes to wreaking
havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women and children, callous dissembling
is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie not oil,
not revenge, not re-election, not somebody's grand pipe dream of a democratic
domino theory. And mark my words, the calculated intimidation that we
see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep
the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like
it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house
of cards, built of deceit, will fall.