Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A little birdie slipped me a transcript of Sen. John Cornyn's statement on the Senate floor today. An excerpt (link to be added when Sen. Cornyn's staff puts it online):

In order for Iraq to grow and blossom from the rubble, it requires security. It requires order. It requires the rule of law.

First, we must begin by ensuring the basic security of the Iraqi people. People must be able to buy food at the market without fearing armed robbery or kidnapping. They must be able to worship without fearing snipers or skirmishes. Their children must be able to go to school without hearing the sound of gunfire nearby.

The Middle East looks like the Old West right now, and we need lawmen to help restore the peace. We must eliminate the threats posed by what remains of the Baathist Party and the common criminals who control the streets and highways. We must end the looting and restore the property rights of the Iraqi people. We simply cannot construct the foundation of a peaceful and just society when there is still no security in Iraq.

Dr. Karim Hassan, director general of Iraq's electricity commission, put it this way: “Give me security, and I will give you electricity.”

The brave men and women of our Armed Forces have done heroic work in Iraq. I know I speak for the people of my State of Texas, for all Americans, and indeed for all freedom-loving people when I give thanks that the operation in Iraq was concluded swiftly with a minimum loss of coalition lives. But it would be a grave mistake to burden our military alone with the job of ensuring security for the Iraqi people. Indeed, that is not their principal mission.

After security is restored, a functioning legal system must be established. There is the immediate problem of establishing a police force. Under Saddam's regime, the police were nothing more than shock troops bent on fulfilling the dictator's tyrannical bidding. Now they must act to protect and defend the people they formerly dominated and abused. The police in Iraq are no longer the law, violently expressed; they must now enforce and be held accountable to the law.

No system of justice can survive long in the absence of law and order, and there can be no democratic Iraqi state as long as lawlessness reigns. [...]

At the inception of this country, George Washington, instead of seeking to rule as an emperor, a king, a president for life, returned to his Virginia farm, handing over the reins of the fledgling American nation at the end of two terms in office. The act was astounding at the time, a political humility unknown since the era of Cincinnatus. It prompted his old foe, King George the Third, to call Washington “the greatest character of the age.”

But Washington's actions were no accident. Washington recognized that for America to truly be a nation where the people were sovereign, it must first be a nation of laws.

We do not yet know which leader Iraqis will choose. But the identity of the democratic leader is far less important in the long term than the establishment of the rule of law, and not men. While leaders come and go, it is laws that make a nation.
Heckuva speech; dead-on, in fact. I'd say that whoever wrote this is one deeply talented guy, even if the Cincinnatus reference is probably lost on certain members of the Senate.

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