Saturday, March 24, 2007

The speech that President Bush should have given

In early 2004, I had not yet personally participated in the war in Iraq but I'd watched it unfold on TV and in the papers.  The pride and confidence and sense of honor I'd felt in the US response to 9-11 was severely shaken by events in Iraq.

The speech that President Bush should have given
Written May 7, 2004
Published in my city's weekly newspaper

"To those persons detained in Abu Ghraib prison, to all citizens of Iraq, to members of the United States military and coalition forces, and to all who may hear these words:  I apologize for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, and I accept responsibility for the actions of those under my command."

"That such abuse could occur under the banner of American forces reflects a fundamental disregard for the principles upon which the United States has historically been and will continue to be founded.  I must re-emphasize them now, to make clear my commitment to the people of all nations, and to make clear my expectations of those who act in my service."

" 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.' "

" 'No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.' "

"Equality.  Justice.  Due process of law.  Government first and foremost to secure the rights of the governed.  The great and simple doctrine of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.  Now as always we must hold to those principles, as we strive to give the citizens of Iraq the opportunity to cement them into the foundation of their own government.  We have changed the course of history by removing a tyrant who exercised power without responsibility.  If we ourselves cannot now demonstrate responsible use of power, if our actions belie the doctrine of our forefathers, we will doom the Iraqi people to yet more anguish and we will fail those who look to us for hope, for leadership, for belief in a better future."

"I will not allow that to happen.  Equality.  Justice.  Due process of law.  Government first and foremost to secure the rights of the governed.  Those will be the touchstones of our response to the abuses already committed, and of our actions in the future.  I make that promise to all who would listen. I give that order to all who act on my behalf."

That's what I wish I'd heard.  That's what I hope to someday still see.

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