Mar 7, 2014
A Conversation With Dennis Kucinich
Posted on Jan 6, 2008
By Chris Hedges
Hedges: Because the Democratic Party isn’t doing anything.
Kucinich: I understand. I am asking a rhetorical question. People are feeling they have to do something.
Hedges: When you confront the Democratic leadership, do they hear you?
Kucinich: They console themselves on the myth that they do not have the votes, when all they have to do is tell the president, “We are not going to give you any more money.” This is a basic civics lesson. The bill is made, introduced, it goes into committee, it comes back out, it goes to the floor, you know, eventually it can be passed. I will tell you how a bill isn’t made. It is not introduced. It doesn’t get to the floor. Since appropriations bills begin in the House, by the Constitution we can tell the president we are not going to give him any more money. He ... has to use the money he has that is available to take a new direction that will result in ending the war. We can box the president in on this. If he fails, if he refuses to bring the troops home, then we turn to impeachment. It isn’t as though the president has the right to just keep the troops there. You can’t blame the president. The Congress has the right to fund the war or not to fund the war. Every time you fund the war, you vote to authorize it all over again. The showdown that needs to happen—and this is the way Vietnam ended—we basically told the president we would stop the funding. You don’t need a vote to do that. The president would be similarly faced with having to then go to the nations of the region and say, “We are going to leave,” and that is the only responsible course of action we can take, and the course of action I recommend anyway. So why should we have to force him to do that? Why don’t we just go to him and say, “Look, this is the plan: We want the troops brought home, and we are not going to give you any more money. We will support you if you take these steps. If you don’t, it will be very tough”? They are refusing to confront him. Considering the fact that the whole war is based on lies, what are we doing here? History may well look back at this time and ask why was American sleeping while their leaders were engaging in aggressive war? They are going to know there was one person who was awake. I call it for what it is: a war crime.
Kucinich: Let me tell you what happens when it goes to me. We take steps not just to get out of Iraq, but to go to the nations of the region and put together an international security and peacekeeping force that moves in as our troops leave. I go to Syria. I go to Iran. I tell them it is a new day. I also start a process of peace in the Middle East ... bringing people together to get guarantees for the security of Israel. At the same time you work to provide for a true Palestinian homeland with full rights for the Palestinians. The door to peace in the world goes through Jerusalem. I would also work to change the U.S. policy with respect to arms manufacturing. We are the arms merchants of the world. We are fueling wars everywhere around the world. We have got to change direction. I would start to systematically pull back America’s presence from its global bases around the world. We don’t need to do that, not in today’s world. That is a throwback to the 19th century or maybe even the 18th century. It is not germane to a modern world. The problems today are non-state actors. I would move to make, as a matter of national security, a new energy policy that was carbon-free and nuclear-free. I would counsel the other nations of the world that the long-term economic and security interests will be to get away from nuclear power, which is the basis at some point, for not only the enrichment of uranium but the production of plutonium. We need to go away from that direction. We would have a strong military that would be mobilized to protect this country, but the policies of aggressive war would end. My doctrine would be strength through peace, the end of the neoconservative approach of unilateralism and first strike, and the beginning of the end of war as an instrument of policy, the beginning of transparency, open dialogue, direct contact, leader to leader, real diplomacy—the science of human relations, whatever you want to call it—it’s a new day. I will work to get rid of all nuclear weapons by enforcing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. I will enforce the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Small Arms Treaty, the Land Mines Treaty. And America will join the International Criminal Court. Frankly, every official of the Bush administration who was involved in the execution of an aggressive war would be held accountable under the laws of this country. There are provisions within our current laws. The laws of the United States incorporate under article six of the Constitution all treaties. Our leaders do not have the right to make a war of aggression. They have to abide by the Geneva Convention and by international law. I see a different security posture and a different energy and economic policy for this country. The Patriot Act would be cancelled, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the Homegrown Terrorism Act. I would send the justice department into federal court and knock down each and every provision of law that was put up during the time of the Bush administration, either with the help of Congress or through signing statements, that compromised First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights, Fifth Amendment rights, Eighth Amendment, 14th Amendment rights or any other amendment rights. Those are the one that immediately come to mind.
Hedges: Would you consider running as a third-party candidate?
Kucinich: I have been trying to make the Democrats an effective second party. This is my second effort at doing that. I am still in the process of doing that. My answer is that I am still in the process of trying to make the Democrats a credible second party.
Hedges: Nader felt the Democratic Party actively tried to sabotage his campaign. What about you? Do you feel the Democratic establishment is in any way undermining your campaign.
Kucinich: I don’t think about that. I would hope they have better things to do with their time. I can’t be intimidated. I can’t be bought. I can’t be bossed. It would be shame for them to waste their time doing that. It is not going to change; it’s not going to affect me one bit. They should spend their energy on the war, health care, creating jobs, trying to find a way to give people a reason to vote Democratic. I have been doing this for 40 years. I have more experience in politics than most people on the American political scene on so many different levels. I am sure there are some people who have been in local politics for 50 years and are just wonderful. My experience has been at a local, state and federal level in judicial and executive offices. I can tell you that we are at a moment in American history where we are in danger of losing our country. That is what causes me to defend the Constitution. It is what causes me to seek strength through peace, to propose peace for the violence in our own society, domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the schools. I do not only reject war as an instrument of policy. I reject the inevitability of war. I believe peace is inevitable if you are ready to work for it. If you examine the underlying structures in our society, they have not really challenged this notion of the inevitability of violence, whether it is domestic violence, child abuse, spousal abuse, violence in the schools, gun violence, gang violence, racial violence, violence against gays, police/community clashes. It is as if we don’t believe that our culture be non-violent. Violence is learned; so is nonviolence. I am looking at helping to create a social transformation here. This isn’t just about winning an election. Elections come and go. Where is the country? What happens to our nation? What happens to the people? Politics cannot just be an inside game between competing corporate interests. It amounts to the condition under which people live and survive. I see a much higher purpose to what it is we do. That is why I continue to participate.
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