In his response to the State of the Union, Sen. James Webb’s (D-VA) offered a harsh criticism of President Bush’s national security and economic policies. He said that Bush “recklessly” took the country into war with Iraq, ignored the advice of his top advisers, and is now holding the nation hostage in the war’s “predictable — and predicted — disarray.” Watch it:
Webb also compared the current situation of economic disparity in the United States to the era of when “robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth” and the “dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.” Like Theodore Roosevelt, Bush now needs to take the “right kind of action” for “the benefit of the American people.” Webb concluded, if Bush chooses a new direction, “we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.”
The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable — and predicted — disarray that has followed. The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve. The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq. On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action. Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt. Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.” And he did something about it.
As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end. These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way. Thank you for listening. And God bless America.