LEFT OF DAYTON

SENATOR ROBERT BYRD [D-W VA] NO WAR WITH IRAN… | October 7, 2007

For immediate release: Thursday, October 4, 2007
Contact: Byrd Press Office, 202-224-3904
SENATOR BYRD: AMERICA MUST NOT “SLEEP WALK” INTO ANOTHER DISASTROUS MILITARY CONFRONTATION
Washington, D.C…. U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., delivered remarks
today on growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the recent Senate
resolution designating a portion of the Iranian Armed Forces as a “terrorist
organization”. In a speech on the Senate floor, Byrd expressed his dismay that
the U.S. Senate has joined the “chest-pounding and saber-rattling of the Bush
Administration”.
Excerpts:
We are now more than four years into a war that was launched by false fears and
scary hyperbole, and here we are again, being led down a path by chestpounding
rhetoric, without a clear idea of where that path is taking us.
Every day it seems the confrontational rhetoric between the United States and
Iran escalates. We hear shadowy claims about Iran’s destabilizing actions in Iraq,
with little direct evidence offered to back it up. The President telegraphs his
desire to designate a large segment of the Iranian army as a terrorist
organization—and instead of counseling prudence, the United States Senate
rushes ahead to do it for him. I hope that we can stop this war of words before it
becomes a war of bombs.
Senator Byrd’s Full Remarks are below
——————————————————————————–
Mr. President, last week, the Senate voted on an amendment to the Defense
Authorization bill that designated a portion of the Iranian Armed Forces as a
“terrorist organization.” I joined 21 of my colleagues in voting against that
amendment. It was a dangerous, unnecessary provocation that is escalating the
confrontational rhetoric between the United States and Iran. In response to the
passage of that amendment, the Iranian Parliament on Saturday designated the
U.S. Armed Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency as terrorist
organizations. Will someone please explain to me what has been achieved by
this exchange of international verbal spitballs?
It is deeply troubling to see the U.S. Senate joining the chest-pounding and
saber-rattling of the Bush Administration. I am no apologist for the Iranian
regime, any more than I was for Saddam Hussein, but I fear that we may
become entangled in another bloody quagmire. We have been down this
path before. We have seen all too clearly where it leads.
Four and a half years ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a speech before
the United Nations Security Council claiming to have evidence that proved
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent threat
to U.S. and international security. Others in the Administration made the rounds
of the Washington news programs to pound the drums of war, scaring the public
with visions of mushroom clouds and mobile chemical weapons labs. The
proponents of war compared Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler, warning ominously
of the dangers of Chamberlain-like “appeasement.”
That is a seductive analogy, but it is a dangerously specious one. Every foreign
adversary is not the devil incarnate. We know now that Saddam Hussein was
militarily a paper tiger. The intelligence that suggested he was an imminent threat
was flat wrong. Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam
Hussein had not attacked our country. Saddam Hussein was a ruthless tyrant,
but he was not an imminent threat to U.S. national security.
And now we hear the same scare tactics and simple analogies trotted out again,
this time with Iran. Analogies can be dangerous things; they risk oversimplifying
complicated situations, and can lead to erroneous conclusions. While there may
be some superficial similarities between Hitler and Ahmadinejad, it does not
mean that our only option is to start World War III.
We are now more than four years into a war that was launched by false
fears and scary hyperbole, and here we are again, being led down a path by
chest-pounding rhetoric, without a clear idea of where that path is taking
us.
As the philosopher George Santayana once said, “those who cannot
remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Are we condemned to
repeat the colossal blunder that is the Iraq war? Or has the United States
Senate learned the lessons of history?
Every day it seems the confrontational rhetoric between the United States
and Iran escalates. We hear shadowy claims about Iran’s destabilizing
actions in Iraq, with little direct evidence offered to back it up. The
President telegraphs his desire to designate a large segment of the Iranian
army as a terrorist organization—and instead of counseling prudence, the
United States Senate rushes ahead to do it for him. I hope that we can stop
this war of words before it becomes a war of bombs.
We have seen the results when the U.S. Senate gives this Administration the
benefit of the doubt: a war that has now directly cost the American people six
hundred billion dollars, more than 3,800 American deaths, and more than 27,000
American casualties. A war that has stretched our military to the breaking point.
A war that the commander of our forces in Iraq just three weeks ago could not
say had made America safer.
I daresay many—perhaps most—in this chamber wish we had never gone
into Iraq. Are we willing to sleep-walk into yet another disastrous military
confrontation with a Middle East tyrant?
We need to talk directly to the government of Iran, without preconditions or
artificial restrictions, and indicate that regime change is not our goal.
Unfortunately, the President seems unwilling to take that step; we have held only
two talks at a relatively low level, and those have focused solely on Iraq. Direct
talks with North Korea about the issue we were most concerned with—North
Korea’s nuclear program—resulted in the first progress toward a denuclearized
Korean peninsula in years. And yet with Iran we continue to refuse to discuss the
issues we are most concerned about, insisting that they must first renounce their
nuclear program. That is not negotiation. That is dictating ultimatums.
I agree that no option should be taken off the table when considering how to deal
with any threat posed by Iran. But, if the President concludes, after serious
diplomacy has failed, that an attack is necessary, he must make the case to the
U.S. Congress and the American people. Under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S.
Constitution, only the Congress—the elected representatives of the people—
have the power to declare war. Not the President.
The President has stated his belief that previously enacted Congressional
authorizations to use force give him all the authority he requires to start a
new war. I respectfully disagree. It is incumbent upon us to reassert the
powers granted to the people’s branch in the Constitution. That is the best
way to prevent another colossal blunder in the Middle East. It is the people
of this country who pay the price of such presidential misadventures. We,
as their Representatives in the Congress, must not fail in our number one
duty: to protect their interests.
###

http://byrd.senate.gov/

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61 Y/O VIET VET WORKING FROM THE LEFT OF CENTER

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