Pogo News 11/03/03

"America's Naked Emperor"


The Emperor Has No Clothes

Robert C. Byrd is a Democratic Senator from West Virginia.

The following commentary was delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate on
October 17, 2003.
In 1837, Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote a wonderful fairy tale
which he titled The Emperor's New Clothes. It may be the very first example
of the power of political correctness. It is the story of the Ruler of a
distant land who was so enamored of his appearance and his clothing that he
had a different suit for every hour of the day.

One day two rogues arrived in town, claiming to be gifted weavers. They conv
inced the Emperor that they could weave the most wonderful cloth, which had
a magical property. The clothes were only visible to those who were
completely pure in heart and spirit.
The Emperor was impressed and ordered the weavers to begin work immediately.
The rogues, who had a deep understanding of human nature, began to feign
work on empty looms.

Minister after minister went to view the new clothes and all came back
exhorting the beauty of the cloth on the looms even though none of them
could see a thing.
Finally a grand procession was planned for the Emperor to display his new
finery. The Emperor went to view his clothes and was shocked to see
absolutely nothing, but he pretended to admire the fabulous cloth, inspect
the clothes with awe, and, after disrobing, go through the motions of
carefully putting on a suit of the new garments.

Under a royal canopy the Emperor appeared to the admiring throng of his
people, all of whom cheered and clapped because they all knew the rogue
weavers' tale and did not want to be seen as less than pure of heart.

But, the bubble burst when an innocent child loudly exclaimed, for the whole
kingdom to hear, that the Emperor had nothing on at all. He had no clothes.

That tale seems to me very like the way this nation was led to war.

We were told that we were threatened by weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
but they have not been seen.

We were told that the throngs of Iraqi's would welcome our troops with
flowers, but no throngs or flowers appeared.

We were led to believe that Saddam Hussein was connected to the attack on
the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, but no evidence has ever been produced.

We were told in 16 words that Saddam Hussein tried to buy "yellow cake" from
Africa for production of nuclear weapons, but the story has turned into
empty air.

We were frightened with visions of mushroom clouds, but they turned out to
be only vapors of the mind.

We were told that major combat was over but 101 [as of October 17] Americans
have died in combat since that proclamation from the deck of an aircraft
carrier by our very own Emperor in his new clothes.

Our emperor says that we are not occupiers, yet we show no inclination to
relinquish the country of Iraq to its people.

Those who have dared to expose the nakedness of the administration's
policies in Iraq have been subjected to scorn. Those who have noticed the
elephant in the room, that is, the fact that this war was based on
falsehoods, have had our patriotism questioned. Those who have spoken aloud
the thought shared by hundreds of thousands of military families across this
country, that our troops should return quickly and safely from the dangers
half a world away, have been accused of cowardice. We have then seen the
untruths, the dissembling, the fabrication, the misleading inferences
surrounding this rush to war in Iraq wrapped quickly in the flag.

The right to ask questions, debate, and dissent is under attack. The drums
of war are beaten ever louder in an attempt to drown out those who speak of
our predicament in stark terms.

Even in the Senate, our history and tradition of being the world's greatest
deliberative body is being snubbed. This huge spending bill has been rushed
through this chamber in just one month. There were just three open hearings
by the Senate Appropriations Committee on $87 billion, without a single
outside witness called to challenge the administration's line.

Ambassador Bremer went so far as to refuse to return to the Appropriations
Committee to answer additional questions because, and I quote: "I don't have
time. I'm completely booked, and I have to get back to Baghdad to my
duties."

Despite this callous stiff-arm of the Senate and its duties to ask questions
in order to represent the American people, few dared to voice their
opposition to rushing this bill through these halls of Congress. Perhaps
they were intimidated by the false claims that our troops are in immediate
need of more funds.

But the time has come for the sheep-like political correctness which has
cowed members of this Senate to come to an end.

The Emperor has no clothes. This entire adventure in Iraq has been based on
propaganda and manipulation. Eighty-seven billion dollars is too much to pay
for the continuation of a war based on falsehoods.

Taking the nation to war based on misleading rhetoric and hyped intelligence
is a travesty and a tragedy. It is the most cynical of all cynical acts. It
is dangerous to manipulate the truth. It is dangerous because once having
lied, it is difficult to ever be believed again. Having misled the American
people and stampeded them to war, this administration must now attempt to
sustain a policy predicated on falsehoods. The president asks for billions
from those same citizens who know that they were misled about the need to go
to war. We misinformed and insulted our friends and allies and now this
administration is having more than a little trouble getting help from the
international community. It is perilous to mislead.

The single-minded obsession of this administration to now make sense of the
chaos in Iraq, and the continuing propaganda which emanates from the White
House painting Iraq as the geographical center of terrorism is distracting
our attention from Afghanistan and the 60 other countries in the world where
terrorists hide. It is sapping resources which could be used to make us
safer from terrorists on our own shores. The body armor for our own citizens
still has many, many chinks. Have we forgotten that the most horrific terror
attacks in history occurred right here at home!! Yet, this administration
turns back money for homeland security, while the president pours billions
into security for Iraq. I am powerless to understand or explain such a
policy.

I have tried mightily to improve this bill. I twice tried to separate the
reconstruction money in this bill, so that those dollars could be considered
separately from the military spending. I offered an amendment to force the
administration to craft a plan to get other nations to assist the troops and
formulate a plan to get the U.N. in, and the U.S. out, of Iraq. Twice I
tried to rid the bill of expansive, flexible authorities that turn this $87
billion into a blank check. The American people should understand that we
provide more foreign aid for Iraq in this bill, $20.3 billion, than we
provide for the rest of the entire world! I attempted to remove from this
bill billions in wasteful programs and divert those funds to better use.
But, at every turn, my efforts were thwarted by the vapid argument that we
must all support the requests of the Commander in Chief.

I cannot stand by and continue to watch our grandchildren become
increasingly burdened by the billions that fly out of the Treasury for a war
and a policy based largely on propaganda and prevarication. We are borrowing
$87 billion to finance this adventure in Iraq. The president is asking this
Senate to pay for this war with increased debt, a debt that will have to be
paid by our children and by those same troops that are currently fighting
this war. I cannot support outlandish tax cuts that plunge our country into
potentially disastrous debt while our troops are fighting and dying in a war
that the White House chose to begin.

I cannot support the continuation of a policy that unwisely ties down
150,000 American troops for the foreseeable future, with no end in sight.

I cannot support a president who refuses to authorize the reasonable change
in course that would bring traditional allies to our side in Iraq.

I cannot support the politics of zeal and "might makes right" that created
the new American arrogance and unilateralism which passes for foreign policy
in this administration.

I cannot support this foolish manifestation of the dangerous and
destabilizing doctrine of preemption that changes the image of America into
that of a reckless bully.

The emperor has no clothes. And our former allies around the world were the
first to loudly observe it.

I shall vote against this bill because I cannot support a policy based on
prevarication. I cannot support doling out 87 billion of our hard-earned tax
dollars when I have so many doubts about the wisdom of its use.

I began my remarks with a fairy tale. I shall close my remarks with a horror
story, in the form of a quote from the book Nuremberg Diaries, written by
G.M. Gilbert, in which the author interviews Hermann Goering.

"We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his
attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for
leaders who bring them war and destruction.

"...But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the
policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it
is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist
dictatorship.

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have
some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the
United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can
always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have
to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for
lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way
in any country."

*---------------*

POGO has emphasized the importance of Hermann Goering statement to all
Americans today.
do not buy the lies from this bush administration.