Dec 6, 2013
Truthdig Radio: Dennis Kucinich Battles Libya Bombing
Posted on Mar 24, 2011
On this week’s episode, Rep. Dennis Kucinich explains why he’s trying to defund military action in Libya, Ryan Quinn talks about his new novel, Howie Stier reports from the anti-war movement and Robert Scheer remembers Elizabeth Taylor.
Click to listen to the show, or continue reading the full transcript below.
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Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio, a new weekly show featuring the best in news, interviews and commentary from Truthdig and KPFK. I’m Peter Scheer. On the show today, Ryan Quinn, an all-American athlete who came out in the not-so-gay-friendly state of Utah and was inspired by his experience to write a novel. Howie Stier reports from the front lines of the anti-war movement, and Robert Scheer remembers Elizabeth Taylor. But first, we spoke just moments ago with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who is working to defund America’s military action in Libya, which he says is unconstitutional.
Dennis Kucinich: Oh, my God.
Robert Scheer:… so full court, full court press, you know. So Josh, you’re the one that set this up. What’s your big question?
Josh Scheer: My big question is, what’s going on with your bill to defund Libya?
Dennis Kucinich: I’m actively seeking support. There are so many members out of town and out of their districts, and around the country and around the world, that we can’t … it’s tough to get ahold of people right now. But after we first announced it I had Ron Paul, Walter Jones and Pete Stark all sign on quickly. And I suspect that we’ll have many co-sponsors before we begin work of the House when we come back in a week.
Robert Scheer: Do you have the wording right there, Dennis? Could you read it for us?
Dennis Kucinich: It’s simply this. It says that the … that none of the funds expended under this act shall be used for the … for intervening … for military intervention in Libya.
Robert Scheer: That’s great! And how come you got Ron Paul, you were able to get Ron Paul to sign off on that?
Dennis Kucinich: Ron and I work together.
Robert Scheer: Really.
Dennis Kucinich: As do Walter Jones and I, and Pete Stark supported our effort to limit …
Robert Scheer: Pete Stark’s a California congressman.
Dennis Kucinich: … to end the war in Afghanistan as well. So, you know, I would think that we should be able to get many of the people who voted to get out of Afghanistan a week ago on this bill to stop funding.
Josh Scheer: Is the fear that there’s no exit strategy and no …
Dennis Kucinich: There isn’t any exit strategy. There was only an entrance strategy. That’s a concern in Congress, and apparently it’s a concern of some people in the Department of Defense as well.
Josh Scheer: And I was going to ask about … because I mean, this is also that there’s a kind of unfair balance, because we already are obviously stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then we haven’t gone after other regional countries that have far worse leaders, like Saudi Arabia or Yemen.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, when we … if we start to create a new engine for intervention, we’ll destroy our country. Because we don’t have the ability to finance endless wars. Our military is already stretched thin. Our domestic agenda is being shredded. The penchant for military intervention is very dangerous. And the moment that we’re in right now in Libya is a chaotic strategy, intervening in a chaotic place, and the only thing that’s going to come out of it is more chaos.
Robert Scheer: You know, Dennis, it occurs to me … this is Bob … it occurs to me that there’s something really cynical at work here. You know, you’re not going to commit troops; you’re not going to occupy a place. You’re going to use your high technology … and this is something the military-industrial complex has always wanted, because if you have to put in troops, you have casualties, you have the consequence. If you can just bomb from up high, if you can just send in drone missiles, if you can have a no-fly zone in which, then, you are the only ones who can rain death down on people, you have kind of this comic book or video war that the American public might go … buy off on, might accept. And at the same time it uses up ordinance and it provides a justification for building new high-tech weapons.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, you’re right about the fact that the more ordinance we use, the more high-tech weapons we’ll end up buying. The cost of this war, according to an analysis that just came in that I saw this morning, said that by the time we’re out of it, if it is, quote, limited, unquote, it could still cost about a billion dollars. Specifically, to replace the more than 100 Tomahawk missiles, replace the 2,000-pound bombs that have been used, the cost of fuel, the cost of keeping planes in the air. So … there’s another aspect to this, though. It’s really the height of irresponsibility to wage these remote wars, where you actually don’t have to even look at people anymore. It actually … actually, war, the character of wars have changed so dramatically with changes in technology, that you could bomb someone thousands of miles away without ever having to look them in the eye, without ever having to know anything about them. You can bomb their neighbor and call it collateral damage. We have to understand that as the world’s gone faster and technology’s speeded up and given us these capabilities, it’s actually enabled a derationalization and a dehumanization of those who are doing the attacking.
Peter Scheer: Congressman, this is Peter. Would you have opposed this funding if the president had come to Congress and kept a price cap on the spending?
Dennis Kucinich: I would oppose any intervention in Libya whatsoever.
Peter Scheer: So what do you … how do you react to the humanitarian claims of the people supporting this intervention?
Dennis Kucinich: I think Noam Chomsky, in his book about humanitarian war, really captured the essence of it. We actually go into these situations with … there are Western colonial interests that have been longstanding. There’s the opposition who we really don’t know how to characterize in Libya; there’s this, looming in the background, this concern about the primacy of Libya’s oil. You know, when you look at all these things, it paints a picture which is quite murky for interventionism. And if you want to dress it up in humanitarian purposes, once you open up the intervention and you get into it deeply, it may not look very humanitarian at all. You may actually end up killing more people than Gadhafi himself is capable of.
Josh Scheer: I was going to say, Bush also got approval from Congress for Iraq with lies and half-truths; I mean, you can get approval, I think, right … your point would be that we don’t want to get into another quagmire.
Dennis Kucinich: Right.
Peter Scheer: But you specifically objected to the president not coming to Congress on this action. Isn’t that true?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, that’s absolutely right. And I have for my … I have additional support for that view, including a quote that is, quote, the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation, unquote. And that was then-Sen. Barack Obama in an interview with the Boston Globe on December 20th, 2007. I opposed the president taking action without consulting with Congress. Had he consulted with Congress, I would have voted against it. That’s not to say the resolution could not have passed. But the fact that he didn’t consult with Congress is, I think, a breach of his constitutional obligations.
Josh Scheer: I was going to say that we’re going to put that on Truthdig, the interview with the Boston Globe—we found it today. And then another question is, though, I know that was one of his promises, and he’s broken a lot of his promises. But he does promise to hand over control; he says that Libyans have to decide their own fate; you know, he’s said all the right things. That this will be … you know, this is not just the U.S., this is an international coalition. But do you think those are just political promises, or do you think …
Dennis Kucinich: Well, I … look. Let’s go to … just a few days ago. The Arab League was in partnership. Well, there appears to be some changes there, because they’re backing away, saying that they didn’t know, that they didn’t want civilians to be hurt. And there seems to have been some settling on NATO taking control, but who’s NATO? I mean, who drives NATO? The U.S.
Peter Scheer: Also, France and Germany have indicated that they don’t, they might vote against a leadership position.
Dennis Kucinich: Well taken. And so there’s still disagreement, and the element of chaos, which war embodies, is touching all those who are promoting it.
Robert Scheer: Let me ask you, Dennis. It seems to me that this idea that you and Ron Paul and the others you mentioned could agree on a resolution is very promising for American politics. That it cuts through the left-right division; it shows a certain consistency on the part of at least the libertarian conservatives about challenging imperial adventures. Aren’t you impressed that this could happen?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, you have to remember that Ron Paul and I have been standing side by side, really unnoticed, for years in opposing the interventions and wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in Libya, and opposing any strike at Iran. So for Ron Paul and I, this is not new. Walter Jones has been a passionate defender of the Constitution, but also has been very courageous in his pointing out what the wars have done to our military. And he took it upon himself to write letters of condolence to every family who lost a son or a daughter in the war in Iraq, because he was so struck with grief over that, over the war, and over his vote. There are people who love this country and who are ready to take a stand without regard to the politics of the moment, whether there’s a Democrat or Republican occupying the White House.
Robert Scheer: You know, Dennis, the thing that bothers me about this whole thing is the sort of faux-humanitarian thing on the part of some neoliberals. And they used this argument for justifying getting into Iraq; they’re using it once again. And it’s hypocritical. First of all, they don’t apply it to Saudi Arabia; they don’t apply it to, you know, the Saudis sending troops into Bahrain; they don’t apply it to what’s happening in Yemen. So it’s a totally inconsistent view of picking targets. I mean, Gadhafi is reprehensible; he is hardly the worst in the region … and also we’ve learned that some of these people, like Joseph Nye from Harvard, and the guy who’s head of the London School of Economics, are actually taking money from Libya and cooperating with Gadhafi, as was George W. Bush, as was Tony Blair. So are you going to call attention to that kind of hypocrisy?
Dennis Kucinich: Absolutely. I mean, anytime you see a war, you’re bound to find inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and people making money off of their positions. The thing that hasn’t really been pointed out, I don’t think, effectively, is that The Washington Post on the day of—or within about 24 hours after we intervened—The Washington Post wrote a story about how the war was pretty much already over. And that the regime had won. And so there’s a question about, did we intervene after the tide had turned towards Tripoli, which means that this is really about regime change. And when you’re looking at regime change, it’s never about quote, democratic ideals, unquote.
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