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Truthdig Radio: Dennis Kucinich Battles Libya Bombing
Posted on Mar 24, 2011
Robert Scheer: Yes. In fact, there’s an irony here in that The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article pointing out that the opposition is the kind that we usually deride; it’s more Islamic, it’s more conservative in a traditional sense than Gadhafi has been. And Gadhafi has actually been presented in recent years, again by the Bush administration and by Blair when he was in charge in England, as somebody we could do business with. And then suddenly that changed.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, there is that … you know, just as we did business with Saddam Hussein at one point. We have this ability to summon up a demon of the week and to be able to create caricatures of people in order to justify military action. And the point that you make about just who it is that we’re working with—no one really seems to know. Except that there is a possibility that if Gadhafi is usurped, that these elements would create a divided Libya, which would be a fertile ground for al-Qaida. And so the national security interests of the United States, if you wanted to strictly define them in terms of the euphemistic global war on terror, would seem be … run contrary to an intervention. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about the conditions in Libya and the plight of the Libyan people. But there is something about recognizing that the … that people are basically going to have to be in charge of their own fate. And that intervention may actually make, military intervention may actually make things worse. It may, in effect, give Gadhafi the ability to say that all of his opponents are part of a Western interventionist plot to grab oil and sink the hopes of the people of Libya.
Peter Scheer: Congressman, would you have favored any kind of military action earlier in the conflict, when Gadhafi was just, appeared to be sending fighter jets to bomb civilians in populated areas?
Dennis Kucinich: No. No, I would not have, I would not have favored any military action there at all. And I don’t, I don’t think that with the tides for change that are sweeping across the Middle East, that the United States can decide to intervene. We can’t do it. It’s not just about Libya; it’s about Yemen, it’s about Bahrain, it’s about Saudi Arabia and Syria, and so many other places. We cannot determine the outcome. And as brutal as these governments may be to their own people, it’s not up to us to determine who’s going to lead a country, the character of a government. And we’re not at the point where we can do that, anymore. We just can’t afford it. Period. And we can’t, we can’t … you know, if the international community wants to do that and participate, then we have to have that debate in the United States Congress. But I am not in favor of intervention.
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Dennis Kucinich: Well, you know, the reports are true. The district I hold in Cleveland, Ohio, is due to be either substantially altered or abolished. A former chair of the state Republican Party two weeks ago said that it was going to be abolished in the redistricting. And so I intend to stay in Congress; I’m going to have to … I don’t know where I’m going to be running, though. That’s where the situation is right now.
Robert Scheer: Well, Dennis, I know you’ve given us a lot of your time, but let me just say, I hope you’re not going to be one of those politicians that then goes to work for the enemy, right? I mean, you’ll be a … [laughter] … you’ll be a truth-seeker and not go work for some big lobbying … as a lot of Democrats do, they go work for Wall Street, they go work for the worst in the country. …
Dennis Kucinich: I think anybody who looks at the trajectory of my career would know that …
Robert Scheer: Yeah … so you might have a good life after Congress. …
Dennis Kucinich: … that it’s unlikely to head towards K Street. [Laughter]
Robert Scheer: You know, but you might actually emerge as like the next Ralph Nader. I mean, because really we need people who know how Congress works and how … what the lobbyists are up to. Do you think there’s some … assuming you lose your district, is there some future role that you could play?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, here’s the thing. I want to … I’m focusing now on the job that I have to do in Congress. That’s number one. Number two, I have every intention of staying in Congress, which means that I am going to run again; I just don’t know where. And number three, based on that outcome, I’ll be able to answer definitively the question that you raised. But what I’ve tried to do, in the time that I do serve, is to bring the same measure of critical inquiry to all matters that Ralph Nader has brought into the consumer movement. And, you know, I think that it’s very important to hold government officials’ feet to the fire on issues of policy and how tax dollars are being spent. And so I’m going to continue to do that as long as I’m in public service.
Robert Scheer: Dennis, as long as we have you, let me just switch the subject a little bit, because it was announced today that new housing sales are at a historic low; they dropped 16 percent; it’s predicted that homeownership is going to drop 10 percent over the next years. We have 50 million people who’ve either lost their homes or are going to lose their homes. The economy does not seem to be getting any better. And yet we’re sailing along with the same kind of leadership, coming from the Democrats, that we have from the Republicans. And there was some hope that the libertarians, like Ron Paul, would challenge the power of the Fed, would challenge the power of big banking, and that some liberals in Congress would do that. Do you see any movement to that …
Dennis Kucinich: Yes …
Robert Scheer: … Or all they all lining up behind this president, and …
Dennis Kucinich: … Well, they’re not all lining behind him. I mean, Ron Paul, in his position as chair of a banking subcommittee, continues to challenge the Fed, and he and I have worked together on that. And furthermore, I’ll just give you a preview of legislation that I’m working on reintroducing in this Congress that would dramatically change the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 by putting the Federal Reserve under the Treasury Department, and would cause fractional reserve banking—which inevitably has enabled banks to pyramid their assets to the point of where they could make investments that have exposed taxpayers to great losses—to change the fractional reserve system. And finally to enable the government, which famously has claimed it’s broke, to be able to restart our economy by investing in our nation; by sending money into circulation to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our water system, our sewer system, or to build new rail for carrying passengers; to be able to invest in education and health care. We have within our power the ability to redirect the fate and the future of our nation, but we have to get control of our monetary policy. And right now, our government is run with a close eye toward [what] Wall Street wants, and policy just all the way down the line, and that is why whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in the White House, the wealth of America keeps accelerating upwards.
Peter Scheer: Can I just ask, in your working with tea party people, with Republicans, are you committing to making any kind of cuts to the budget that you might find unsavory, to form a compromise?
Dennis Kucinich: No, I … listen, my approach to the budget has been this: That we ought to sharply cut Pentagon spending. We ought to … we could save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting out of Afghanistan, Iraq, stopping these military interventions, paring back significantly the Pentagon budget, and reversing the Bush tax cuts. These are all things that are within the capability of government to do. And also just encouraging competition in our economy. You know, we can … we have forgotten that we can still prime the pump of the economy. That kind of economics went out the door; now we’ve accepted a jobless recovery in saying that a certain amount of unemployment, apparently it’s close to 10 percent, is necessary for the proper functioning of the economy. We’ve established a new threshold of unemployment. This is wrong; this is fundamentally wrong. And so I’m not for cutting any social programs, any programs that are needed to help the poor; we need more investment, not less. And government can only do that if we get control of our monetary policy, and if we break the grasp that Wall Street has on our economic and finance policy. So this is a long haul we’re talking about. But I think it’s possible, because the American people, as we have 15 million unemployed, 50 million still without health insurance, another 10 million people who are in various phases of losing their homes. The numbers are there, and they suggest a lack of proper concern about the economic plight of millions of Americans, and inattention to the practical aspirations that most Americans have for jobs and health care, and education, and retirement security, and peace.
Robert Scheer: You know, Dennis, do you think … Congressman, sorry … do you think that in a way these foreign adventures are a distraction from these profound economic issues we have. …
Dennis Kucinich: They’re more than a distraction; they’re putting us on a path that parallels the forces that drove, that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union. You know, we have to stop building an empire. We have to come home. I mean, this has been being said for 40 years in America; this is George McGovern’s theme. We have to come home and start taking care of things here, and it’s a grand distraction, but it’s worse than that. It is undermining our ability to function as a nation. And the other thing that war does, the other casualty of war … the other casualties in war are civil liberties. And so we start to see the quality of our political democracy eroded. And, you know, you can’t have a political democracy unless you have an economic democracy, so war is an economic issue as well. Three trillion dollars, minimum for the Iraq wars; half a trillion dollars already for Afghanistan; a hundred million a day in Libya. We cannot sustain our nation on this course; it is impossible. It is against the laws of physics, because we’re trying to create a new mass out of a black hole.
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