by Senator Robert Byrd
Senate Floor Remarks
April 7, 2004
I have watched with heavy heart and mounting dread as the ever-precarious battle to bring security to post-war Iraq has taken a desperate turn for the worse in recent days and hours. Along with so many Americans, I have been shaken by the hellish carnage in Fallujah and the violent uprisings in Baghdad and elsewhere. The pictures have been the stuff of nightmares, with bodies charred beyond recognition and dragged through the streets of cheering citizens. And in the face of such daunting images and ominous developments, I have wondered anew at the President's stubborn refusal to admit mistakes or express any misgivings over America's unwarranted intervention in Iraq.
During the past weekend, the death toll among America's military personnel in Iraq topped 600 -- including as many as 20 American soldiers killed in one three-day period of fierce fighting. Many of the dead, most perhaps, were mere youngsters, just starting out on the great adventure of life. But before they could realize their dreams, they were called into battle by their Commander in Chief, a battle that we now know was predicated on faulty intelligence and wildly exaggerated claims of looming danger.
As I watch events unfold in Iraq, I cannot help but be reminded of another battle at another place and another time that hurtled more than 600 soldiers into the maws of death because of a foolish decision on the part of their commander. The occasion was the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1864, during the Crimean War, a battle that was immortalized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade."