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There is a Price to Pay for Freedom's Struggle

Location: Washington DC



Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, almost a century and a half ago, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke:

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle . . .

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.

They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

We could find no wiser counsel as we approach the historic transitioning of Iraq to self-rule on June 30. Mr. Douglass' words which rang true in 1857 continue to do so through 2004. As one dark chapter closes and a new, brighter one is set to open in Iraq, we recall his words that the freedom of man has not yet been fully attained, nor is it freely conceded. There is a price to freedom's struggle that tragically includes loss.

In short, freedom is not free. As Iraq struggles to transition from dictatorship to democracy, we all suffer with the loss of each soldier. We all bear the pain of Iraqi men, women, and children suffering from terrorist attacks and Hussein holdovers. But not all shrink back from freedom's struggle upon hearing, feeling, and understanding its price.

The risks and travails of securing freedom are too easily forgotten by a complacent humanity. Yet, we do not need to leap back centuries to comprehend the expense of freedom's attainment. Just a few years ago, we understood that freedom has a price.

In 1983, the head of Solidarity in Poland, Lech Walesa, spoke of freedom's price when receiving his Nobel Prize:

With deep sorrow I think of those who paid with their lives for the loyalty to "Solidarity"; of those who are behind prison bars and who are victims of repressions. I think of all those with whom I have traveled the same road and with whom I shared the trials and tribulations of our time.

Nor did the struggle for freedom end with the cold war. In his 1999 address to NATO, Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia stated:

The fact that a former powerful strategic adversary has disappeared from the scene does not, however, mean that in the world of today, human lives, human rights, human dignity, and the freedom of nations are no longer in danger. They are, unfortunately, still being threatened, and collective defence of the democratic states of the Euro-Atlantic sphere of civilization, therefore, still remains a valid concept.

History did not end with the end of the cold war. Yet, despite the attack of 9/11, some want to believe that history has ended, or that struggling for freedom is unnecessary or obsolete. They believe either that mankind enjoys all the freedom that it is due, or that freedom cannot be preserved or expanded by means of force or combat.

In either case, any would-be leader of the Free World cannot both profess such beliefs and still claim the determination to protect freedom in the post-9/11 world.

Not for this Nation, not for this time, and not for this struggle.

President Bush believes otherwise. He understands what Frederick Douglass meant when he said:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will . . .

While we have not yet witnessed the conclusion of this most recent struggle for freedom, we have seen the trials and tribulations this President faces.

I believe President Bush is trying to wage the War on Terrorism against unprecedented and incredible words and deeds of disunity here at home. Every citizen is ensured the right to dissent. Every President who volunteers to serve in that high office understands and is sworn to uphold that right to dissent. While this Nation has had great leaders who have stood at the helm through many challenges to our national security, I wonder if they could have been successful without the support of those who put the best for their Nation ahead of the best for their party. For such is the unique challenge to victory this President confronts. Consider a historical comparison of the challenges this President faces now against those of a President in our recent past.

In World War II, President Roosevelt stated the national goal of "unconditional surrender." In the War on Terrorism, President Bush similarly outlined the national goal of "regime change" in Iraq. The paramount national goal in wartime should be a unifying force in any nation. In World War II, it was. Republicans echoed President Roosevelt's demand for the "unconditional surrender," not just of Japan, but of Germany and Italy as well.

In the War on Terror, Democrats have echoed President Bush's call for "regime change," but not in Iraq. Instead, they called for "regime change here at home." Democrats contend it is the President of the United States, not the dictator of Iraq, that's the "regime" that needs toppling for the world to be safe.

Perhaps this is just political sloganeering, but can anyone imagine the Republican candidate for President in 1944 calling for "unconditional surrender" here at home? That would have spurred a firestorm of criticism and probably doomed the candidate. In 2004, it has helped a candidate secure his nomination for President. Many of these critics justify cries of "regime change at home" because they believe the war was unnecessary. They believe that after the terrorist attack of 9/11, the war on Iraq was a diversion from the "real" war on terrorism.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt announced a "Germany First" strategy. In his judgment, Germany was a greater threat than Japan because of its wealth, location, and advanced weaponry. It became the theatre of World War II that commanded most of the attention and resources in that war.

Shortly after 9/11 and the opening operations against al-Qaida's puppet government in Afghanistan, President Bush announced that Iraq was a grave and gathering threat because of its wealth, location, and advanced weaponry.

It therefore has become the theatre in the war on terrorism that demands our greater attention and resources. If today's critics had existed then, President Roosevelt's "Germany First" strategy would have been roundly criticized. Today's critics would have claimed Roosevelt had always wanted to "get" Germany. They would have claimed that his War Department had been planning war against Germany ever since the previous war. They would claim Roosevelt was engaging in a personal anti-fascism campaign that ignored and diverted attention from the search for the attackers of Pearl Harbor. He would be charged with making America less safe as he failed to focus all resources solely upon Japan. And if Roosevelt had listened to these critics, Britain would have fallen, and likely the Soviet Union too, and the Third Reich would have covered the better part of three continents-Europe, Asia, and Africa. A new Dark Age would have descended.

For those who might have felt the "Germany First" strategy in World War II was misplaced or that the entire Germany effort was an "unnecessary war," one overwhelming discovery confirmed it was the right thing to do.

The horrific evidence of a holocaust was exposed at the end of the war. That gruesome discovery of wholesale genocide granted finality to the righteousness and sanctity that belonged to those who led and fought in the war against the Nazis. But the difference between now and then is that the Iraq holocaust does not justify our action; in fact, by many critics, it is not even noted. Think of that. Mr. President, 300,000 dead in Iraq and that is not a consideration for most critics of the war effort.

I defy anyone to show me where these critics devote even one sentence to this holocaust in the paragraphs and pages attacking this war as wrong, unnecessary, immoral, and unjust.

When did life become so cheap as to be irrelevant?

Thankfully, Roosevelt ignored his few misguided critics and this President should follow his lead. America needs the will of Churchill, not the waffling of Chamberlain. America needs leaders like Roosevelt and Reagan who recognized evil and were willing to call it by its rightful name. They knew the time to talk was over and the time to act was now, rather than never. Upon such will, such resolve, and such simple honesty lies the strength and endurance of our Nation and its precious freedoms. President Bush is a man of such mettle.

No one here or abroad doubts this President will act. He does not waffle, he does not double-talk, and he does not hide behind the timidity of others. Nor is he guided by his critics and their partisan agenda. He is a man for this time. Now, because of his leadership, on this June 30, the time has come for liberty to emerge from struggle and strife, and to again stride forward.

Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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