Dennis Kucinich on War & Peace
Democratic Representative (OH-10)
A: Unfortunately, the president, just as he was able to convince some of my colleagues here to vote for the war against Iraq, despite the fact there wasn’t any real evidence, so he has been able to get some of my colleagues here--Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards--to say of Iran “all options are on the table.” My candidacy offers the American people someone for president who was right the first time.
A: We need to reach out to Muslim nations and to tell them America’s taking a different direction--no more unilateralism, preemption, first strike. Our policy will be strength through peace. As the one up here who not only voted against, but voted 100 percent of the time against funding the war in Iraq, the war in Iraq was used to create a wedge between the United States and Islam. We need to protect and provide for the security of Israel and to make sure that the Palestinians can have a state, and it has to be done under circumstances where the security of all parties, and the civil rights and human rights of all parties, are protected.
A: To me, it is fairly astonishing to have Democrats, who took back power in the Congress in 2006, to stand on this stage and tell the American people that this war will continue to 2013 and perhaps past that. We can get out of there three months after the new president takes office, if one is determined to do that. And I want to make it clear that my plan includes closing the bases, bringing the troops home, setting in motion a program of reconciliation, not partition, between the Sunnis, the Shi’ites and the Kurds, having an honest reconstruction program, having a program of reparations, and giving the people of Iraq full control over their oil, which currently most of the people on this stage have said should be privatized. If we’re really going to have peace, no partition, let them--let them unite.
A: Well, are we forgetting something here? I mean, do we still have civilian leadership in the United States or have we torn that page out of our Constitution as well? The founders made it very clear that Congress under Article 1, Section 8 has the power of war. And Congress also has the power of the purse. Congress must tell the president now, “The war is over. Bring the troops home. Bring the equipment home. Force those mercenaries to come home.“ I mean, Congress has the power, and they can take action now. We can [vote to] not fund this war.
Q: Why hasn’t Congress done it so far?
A: Congress is afraid to take on this president. We engage in all of these phony debates about the war. It does not take another vote. It simply is for the leadership of the House to tell the president, ”We’re not going to give you any money. Start bringing those troops home now.“
A: First of all, you don’t need votes to end this war. The leadership has to tell the president, “No more money.” But here’s my strategy. It’s a strategy that I articulated over four years ago. The Congress tells the president, “No more money for the war,” and that we have to go out and end the war, end the occupation, have a plan to bring the troops home with a parallel process simultaneously, an international peace-keeping and security force that moves in as our troops leave. That way, Iraq’s stable. But in addition to that, stop the privatization of Iraq’s oil. This is a prescription to keep the war going. No partition of Iraq. We have to have a program for honest reconstruction, for a chance for reconciliation between the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the Kurds, and also for reparations to the Iraq people.
A: Our Constitution has been trashed by this administration. Former President Gerald Ford understood there are dangers when you use assassination as a tool. Assassination is really what’s called an extrajudicial killing. Look at the entire way this administration has changed our Constitution and what America’s values are. Extrajudicial killings are now licensed. Abu Ghraib, tortures--licensed. Guantanamo--people are not permitted to have a right to a trial. Habeas corpus has been trashed. You’re looking at the one person who really understands what this document, the Constitution, is all about. I want equal justice. I want Osama Bin Laden brought to justice. Now, if he resists in an attempt to arrest him, you know, whatever happens, happens. But I think that we as a country need to reinstate this Constitution. This is the basis of our strength.
A: Our troops need to be brought home now, and I have submitted a plan to do just that. Remember, I’m the only one on this stage who actually voted against the war and who voted 100% of the time against funding the war and who presented a plan four years ago to get out of Iraq. Here’s the plan:
BIDEN: What we voted on was not partition. I don’t want anybody thinking it was partition. And it’s the only time we got 26 Republicans to reject the president’s plan.
KUCINICH: You’re splitting Iraq up. That’s what it does.
BIDEN: No, it’s not.
A: First of all, you know, my position is to try to lead the Democrats. And so I have a bill to get us out of Iraq; I’m lobbying members of Congress for that. I, frankly, believe that the Democratic Congress took a major responsibility in November of 2006 to get out of Iraq. They haven’t kept that promise yet, and I’m working all the time to try to get the Democrats to keep that promise to bring our troops home. I’ve been there for every single piece of legislation--health care, retirement security, jobs--and I’m going to be there to keep pushing the envelope to get us out of Iraq, and we shouldn’t have to wait for a Democratic president to do it. The Democratic Congress needs to act now.
KUCINICH: First of all, a clear record as having not only opposed the war from the very beginning--the only one of the stage that actually voted against the war, and also the only one on the stage who voted against funding the war 100% of the time. And so I say we achieve strength through peace. That’s the new doctrine that I’m going to promote throughout this campaign; that we’ll use the science of human relations and diplomacy; that we pursue an approach which says that you can use international agreements and treaties; and that you can work to settle your differences without committing the young men and women to war, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
CLINTON: The issue is: Which of us is ready to lead on day one? I have 35 years of being an instrument and agent of change.
OBAMA: We don’t just need a change in political parties in Washington. We’ve got to have a change in attitudes of those who are representing the people.
A: Yes, it is politics. The Democrats have failed the American people. When we took over in January, the American people didn’t expect us to give them a Democratic version of the war. They expected us to act quickly to end the war. And here’s how we can do it. It doesn’t take legislation. That’s a phony excuse to say that you don’t have the votes. We appropriated $97 billion a month ago. We should tell President Bush, no more funds for the war, use that money to bring the troops home, use it to bring the troops home. If people want to send that message to Congress, they can text “Peace,” 73223.
This administration is preparing a ground war for an attack on Iran right now. The same kind of thinking that took us into Iraq will take us into Iran. I’m talking about a shift in thinking here. I’m talking about a shift in policy. To end war is an instrument of policy, to seek the security of this nation through peace.
I believe that the path to peace runs right through Jerusalem, and it’s time a president had the ability to approach things in the Middle East with an even hand, with an understanding of the suffering of the Palestinians and of the desire of the Israelis for dealing with the existential threat.
We need a president who understands that peace in the Middle East requires this even-handed approach. We need a president who has compassion for both sides, who has the understanding that a healing hand is needed.
A: Well, the money’s there right now to bring the troops home. And I think that, given a choice between using the money to bring the troops home or using the money to continue the war, I think the American people want a process to begin that will bring our troops home. And then we need to announce we’re going to close those bases. And at that point, we can begin a political process.
A: Well, first of all, we all support our troops. And I believe the best way to support the troops is to bring them home. There’s money there, right now, we can use to start the process of bringing our troops home, and to start the process of bringing in an international security force. But we have to make a determination that we’re not going to let this war continue.
A: Well, the president’s trapped by his policy, and we need to help the president. There are Democrats & Republicans alike who are uniting around an alternative. And that’s why I’m bringing an alternative forward. I’m saying what many generals are saying. There’s no military solution. Now, if there’s no military solution, why in the world would we want to leave our troops there? We need to begin a political solution. That political solution starts when we determine that we’re going to withdraw, that we’re going to end the occupation, that we’re going to close the bases, that we’re going to let the Iraqis handle their own oil assets, not try to privatize oil So the president has had four years for his policies to work. They haven’t. They’ve shown to be a failure. Unfortunately, they’re predicated on lies. So let’s rescue not only this president but our nation and the world from these failed policies.
A: It is urgent for the US to become closely involved in the efforts to reach a peaceful agreement which protects Israel and which provides for the creation of an autonomous Palestinian state. Additionally, such an agreement must call for the rebuilding of the Palestinian areas which have been devastated. The US can help to lead the way in such an agreement by participating in rebuilding housing, schools, hospitals, businesses, roads and other infrastructure. Such agreements would engender trust and confidence building and create the possibility where the parties can then deal with the issues of borders and right of return. I believe the government of Israel can help take a step in the direction of setting the stage for negotiations by stopping the building of new settlements and by ceasing in the building of walls.
KUCINICH: I knew enough not to vote for the war without having to sit in on briefings that were phony. Those briefings are designed to mislead members of Congress, so I thought I’d work on things that were more important. I’ve presented an exit strategy to get the UN in and the US out of Iraq. That involves three points:
The question isn’t whether or not America has the military power for victory in Iraq. The question is whether we destroy something essential in this nation, by asserting that America has the right to do so anytime we well please.
American cannot and should not be the world’s policeman. America cannot and should not try to pick the leaders of other nations. Nor should America and the American people be pressed into service of international oil interests and arms dealers.
We must work to bring Iraq back into the community of nations, not through destruction, but through constructive action worldwide. America, with the international community, can help negotiate a resolution with Iraq which encompasses unfettered inspections, the end of sanctions, and the cessation of the regime-change policy.
A: No. The occupation is fueling the insurgency. In 2003, I put forth a plan to get out of Iraq. I’m actually the only one on this stage who voted against the war & the funding the war 100% of the time, and has a plan to bring the troops home. They should be brought home now. And let me tell you something, the Democrats in Congress have not done the right thing for the American people. They should tell Bush that we’re not going to give you another dime. We’re not putting a bill on the floor. When you talked about Pakistan, you cannot look at Pakistan & the destabilization that is occurring in many Muslim nations without understanding the role that our aggression against Iraq has played in contributing to that destabilization. I am speaking about a new policy of strength through peace, no more unilateralism, no more preemption, no more first-strike, open-dialogue diplomacy, and adherence to international law.
There’s some support for Kucinich’s figure. It depends on how long the war continues and what one counts as a cost. The Iraq war already has cost $448 billion, counting emergency appropriations. If current Pentagon requests are approved, the cost for Iraq will reach $564 billion. And depending on how soon and how quickly troops can be withdrawn from Iraq, total funding for Iraq & the GWOT [Global War on Terror] could reach from about $980 billion to $1.4 trillion by 2017. So far 74% of GWOT spending has been for the war in Iraq.
Other studies put Iraq costs even higher Kucinich may have been referring to a Feb. 2006 report [which] estimated that the total cost of the war in Iraq could range from $1 trillion to $2 trillion, including such things as higher fuel prices and future health care costs for wounded soldiers.
OBAMA: I think it would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran. But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region. They’re in the process of developing it. And I don’t think that’s disputed by any expert. They are the largest state sponsor of terrorism, of Hezbollah and Hamas.
KUCINICH: It is disputed.
OBAMA: It is important for us to recognize that nuclear proliferators are a profound security threat for America.
A: The best and fastest way to end the war in Iraq is to adopt my plan which is embodied in H.R. 1234. It’s a plan to end the war in Iraq and it begins with an understanding that the insurgency in Iraq is being fueled by the United States occupation, and that once the US declares its intentions to withdraw US troops and close military bases, that’s the point at which we can engage the world community.
I’ve shown the wisdom and the judgment and the clarity right from the start about not going to war, about voting against each and every appropriation for the war, which as we know, keeps the war going, and having a plan for peace, not only having a plan for peace with Iraq, but having a plan for peace with Iran, of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I’m not just the peace candidate, but I’m the person who’s demonstrated the practical understanding of the necessity of working for peace at all times, and that’s what my plan, H.R. 1234, accomplishes.
We should be providing funding for that UN mission, at least 50% of the troops should come from Muslim nations, and should remain there until the Iraq government is capable of having its own security. We have to have a program of reconciliation between the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds. the US occupation prevents that from happening. We should not partition Iraq.
We need a program of reparations. The Iraqi people have had enormous destruction to their lives, to their property, and the US has a moral obligation to repair that bridge. We need to have a serious reparation program that addresses the fact that perhaps as many as a million innocent civilians have been killed.
A: I’ve had this plan, in legislative form, and that is, it’s time to end the occupation. Congress must cut off the funds. The administration must be told no more money. There’s money there to bring the troops home for sure. But when you cut off the funds, you go to the world community, you say, “Look, we know the occupation’s been fueling the insurgency. We’re going to close the bases, end the occupation, bring our troops home,” and once you do that, the international community will be prepared to have a peacekeeping and security force move in.
I’ve talked to people at the UN, people who have worked on international security and peacekeeping missions and military experts about this and they agree -- end the occupation. That’s the first step, but it’s not enough. You have to have a program for reconciliation between the Shi’ites, the Kurds, and the Sunnis. The U.S. occupation will not permit that to happen. We have to have honest reconstruction.
What was the biggest reason we went to Iraq? Oil! Most American people are aware that if Iraq had not had oil, highly unlikely we would have gone in there. And the reason right now why privatization is on the table is because the Bush administration is doing everything it can to stay in Iraq so they can use their resources & influence to effect the privatization of oil. And it’s wrong. We need to make sure the Iraqi people control thei oil and stop any efforts to try to change their national laws.
And we have to have a reconciliation program between Iraqis and the American people because we did real harm to the people there. They had no quarrel with us. Our occupation is illegal.
I continue to work to implement two measures I sponsored in Congress: the Space Preservation Treaty, which bans space-based weapons, and a cabinet-level Department of Peace, to establish nonviolence as an organizing principle in both domestic and international affairs.
We must cut bloated and unneeded weaponry from a military budget that now almost equals the military spending of all other countries combined. The resulting peace dividend can then be invested in other pressing domestic needs.
KUCINICH: Of course it is. I took the position of organizing 126 Democrats who voted against the Iraq war resolution, and I happen to think it was the right position. Today we’re faced with over 500 casualties, a cost of over $200 billion. And it could rise-the casualties could go into thousands and the cost could go over half a trillion-if we stay there for years, as a number of people on this stage intend to see happen.
KUCINICH: No. The plan is predicated on the UN being presented with an entirely different direction: that the US would disavow any interest in the oil. Ask the UN to handle the oil assets of Iraq on behalf of the Iraqi people, until the Iraqi people are self-governing. Ask the UN to handle the contracts until the Iraqi people are self-governing. The US should renounce any interest in privatization of the Iraq economy. And we should ask the UN to help construct a cause of governance in Iraq with a new constitution and elections. [In addition, my plan would] fund a UN peacekeeping mission; provide repairs for what we destroyed in Iraq; reparations for the families of innocent civilian noncombatants. That would enable the US to go to the UN and 90 days later, we’ll have our troops home.
A: The resolution that I talked about, going to the UN with a totally different approach -- from the time the UN approves that, 90 days later we can bring our troops home, rotate the UN troops in and bring our troops home. The only difference between a rut and a grave is in the dimensions. We are not stuck there.
DEAN: I think we need to bring in foreign troops. You cannot expect the Iraqis to think that they have their own government if we’re appointing their people. We need an election. Over a period of a few years, until the Iraqis really are able to have a democracy which is strong enough not to allow Al Qaida to emerge and has a constitution that’s widely enough respected so they will not have a fundamentalist Shiite regime.
KUCINICH: The war is not over. We have 130,000 troops there. And the occupation equals a war. My plan calls for the end of the occupation, for the US to get out. Now, the UN will not cooperate unless the US takes a change of direction. And here’s the change of direction: The Bush administration must let go of its aspirations to control the oil in Iraq. They must hand over to the UN the handling of the oil, on a transitional basis.
A: It is imperative that the USA get out of Iraq. It was wrong to go in. It is wrong to stay in. We must go to the United Nations with a new resolution which represents a shift in US policy, a resolution which signals that the US is ready to rejoin the world community in the cause of securing Iraq and in helping to create greater security across the globe. That resolution (on my website, www.kucinich.us) calls for the UN to handle all the oil assets of Iraq on behalf of the Iraqi people, without any privatization of oil assets. Next the UN would handle all the contracts in Iraq. No more sweetheart deals for Halliburton and no-bid contracts for political contributors. And the UN should be charged with developing new governance in Iraq so that the Iraqi people can move toward self-determination. My plan, if immediately brought to the UN would enable our troops to be home by the beginning of the New Year.
KUCINICH: We have to understand that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nor with Al Qaida’s attack, nor did they have anything to do with the anthrax attack. What we need to do now is to get the UN in and to get the US out. And the way to achieve that is to have the UN handle the collection and distribution to the Iraqi people of the oil revenues with no privatization, have the UN handle all the contracts, no more Halliburton sweetheart deals, and have the UN create the circumstances for rebuilding an Iraqi government. Nothing less than that will enable the US to get out of there and extricate ourselves.
KUCINICH: It is time to bring the troops home, it is time to bring the UN in and get the US out. The United States can move away from Bush’s blunder, which Iraq will be known as, because there was no reason to go war with Iraq in the first place. And everyone who took the responsibility on this stage has to answer to the American people for voting for that war. I led the effort against it.
A: I have been publicly questioning the truthfulness of Bush on Iraq day after day on the House floor, on national TV and on the campaign trail across the country. It is clear that Bush led this nation to war on the basis of a pretext. I believe this deception exceeds the magnitude of Watergate, and if driven home by the Democratic nominee, could defeat Bush and usher in a Democratic tidal wave.
By the way, it’s called the Department of Defense, not the Department of Offense. Unilateral action on the part of the US, or in partnership with Great Britain, would for the first time set our nation on the bloodstained path of aggressive war.
A: No. I think it’s inconsistent to tell the American people that you oppose the war and, yet, you continue to vote to fund the war. Because every time you vote to fund the war, you’re reauthorizing the war all over again. My good friends here from the Senate just came back from Washington where they voted to continue funding the war. The Democrats have the power to end the war right now, and that’s what we should do. They were under no obligation to give George Bush any money at all. The money’s in the pipeline to bring the troops home. And that’s exactly what ought to be done, at this moment. I have a plan, H.R. 1234, a plan to end the war in Iraq, which calls on the international community to provide peacekeepers and security forces that will move in as our troops leave. But we can’t do that until we determine we’re going to end the occupation. And we will do that when we stop the funding.
EDWARDS: Anyone who voted for this war has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they’ve voted the right way. If so, they can support their vote.
CLINTON: I take responsibility for my vote. Obviously, I did as good a job I could at the time. It was a sincere vote based on the information available to me. If I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way. But I think that the real question before us is: What do we do now?
KUCINICH: I don’t think that it’s sufficient to say that if we had the information at the beginning that we would have voted differently. That information was available to everyone. And, if you made the wrong choice, we’re auditioning here for president of the United States. People have to see who had the judgment and the wisdom not to go to war in the first place, and I made the choice not to go to war.
A: That may change when people understand not only that I opposed the war from the start, but I opposed the idea of using war as a matter of policy. I don’t think it reflects America’s greatness. I also think that this isn’t “American Idol” here. We’re choosing a president. And we have to look at the audition that occurred that in 2003, when my good friends were calle upon to make a decision and then made the wrong decision. Apologies aren’t enough, because we’ve had 3,333 Americans die, & perhaps as many as 650,000 innocent Iraqis. People are looking for a president who has the wisdom to make the right choices about America’s security and who also has the integrity to be able to take a stand that may be unpopular. When people see that this campaign comes from a place of the heart and wants to reconnect with the world, I think they’ll be ready to support it.
When someone wants to be president, they have to have the clarity of vision to be able to make the right decisions on life and death matters. I saw the same information that all these other candidates saw. I studied the same reports that they studied. I came to a different conclusion because everything I saw was there was no proof that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 or had weapons of mass destruction. People are looking for a president who has the ability to do the right thing when it matters the most, and I’ve demonstrated that.
KUCINICH: The message is now I will not vote for the $87 billion. We should support the troops and I think we best support them by bringing them home. Our troops are at peril there, because of this administration’s policy.
We were each provided with a security document that advised “don’t cut and run,” commit up to 150,000 troops for five years at a cost of up to $245 billion. A matter of fact, General Clark was one of the authors of that document that was released in July.
I led the effort in the House of Representatives challenging the Bush administration’s march toward war. I say bring the troops home unequivocally. Bring them home and stop this commitment for $87 billion, which is only going to get us in deeper. Bring them home.
KUCINICH: I am going to vote no because I believe the best way to protect our troops is to bring them home. The UN in and the US out.
Q: What about protecting the troops?
KUCINICH: We’ll be there forever unless we challenge this thinking where the administration cynically uses our troops to pursue a war that was unjust. What we need to do is vote no, bring the UN in and get the US out. End the war
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Kucinich, D-OH]:The American people oppose this war by a margin of two to one. Nearly 2/3 of Americans say the war isn't worth fighting. We are spending $100 billion per year on this war. There are those who are saying the war could last at least another 10 years. Are we willing to spend another $1 trillion on a war that doesn't have any exit plan, for which there is no timeframe to get out, no endgame, where we haven't defined our mission? The question is not whether we can afford to leave. The question is, can we afford to stay? And I submit we cannot afford to stay. The counterintelligence strategy of General Petraeus is an abysmal failure, and it needs to be called as such.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL]: This resolution would undermine the efforts of our military and our international partners in Afghanistan and would gravely harm our Nation's security. 3,000 people died on Sep. 11 because we walked away once from Afghanistan, thinking that it didn't matter who controlled that country. We were wrong then. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Completing our mission in Afghanistan is essential to keeping our homeland safe. This is about our vital national security interests. It is about doing what is necessary to ensure that al Qaeda and other extremists cannot reestablish safe havens such as the ones they had in Afghanistan when the 9/11 attacks were planned against our Nation and our people. The enemy, indeed, is on the run. It is demoralized and divided. Let us not give up now.
Congressional Summary: Resolved, That President George W. Bush be impeached for committing the following abuses of power:
Rep. Wasserman-Schultz: Impeachment is a lengthy process which would divide Congress and this nation even more deeply than we are divided right now. Referring this resolution to the House Judiciary Committee is the constitutionally appropriate process that should be pursued.
Rep. Ron Paul: I rise, reluctantly, in favor of referring that resolution to the House Judiciary Committee for full consideration, which essentially directs the committee to examine the issue more closely than it has done to this point.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people. It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.
Sets forth articles of impeachment stating that Vice President Cheney:
The Out of Iraq Caucus was created in June 2005 to unite members of the House in favor of returning American troops from Iraq. The group's chair, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said the following when announcing its formation:
"The Out of Iraq Congressional Working Group is a newly formed effort whose sole purpose is to be the main agitators in the movement to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Our efforts will include the coordination of activities and legislation designed to achieve our goal of returning our troops home. Through floor statements, press conferences, TV and radio appearances and other actions, we will provide leadership for the American Public who has been waiting too long for our collective voices against the war."
In a speech on the floor of the House shortly after the group's first meeting, Waters emphasized that the group was not calling for an exit from Iraq on any specific date. Rather, she said it more generally opposed a continued U.S. presence in the country. Waters promised that the caucus would do the following towards this aim: