Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich: America, Come Home
Dennis J. Kucinich, US Congressman and presidential candidate, leads the Congressional opposition to the war in Iraq. He delivered this speech to the US National Newspaper Association, March 21, 2003.
For the past year I have led the effort in the House of Representatives to challenge the Administration’s march to war in Iraq. I have used my voice and my vote to try to help avert the tragedy of this immense diplomatic failure and this departure from morality in world affairs. I have used every legal and legislative resource available to me to challenge this war. This culminated in 126 Democrats, nearly two-thirds of the Democratic caucus, voting against the Iraq resolution last October.
Yet the war begins. This is a sad day for America, the world community and the people of Iraq. Today we hope and pray for the safe return of our troops and the end to this unjustified war. I support the brave young men and women who are following orders that have placed them in harm’s way. While I support the troops, I cannot support this mission. President Bush has launched an unprovoked attack against another country. Iraq does not pose an imminent threat to the United States or any of its neighboring nations.
Dark clouds have gathered over the political horizon. This Administration has assumed an aggressive, ideological policy approach which calls for America to be the first to attack. These are offensive, not defensive attacks, and are in contempt of international law. This is a radical and extreme policy which departs from a national security policy which has helped America guide its way through the nuclear age and the Cold War. Containment and deterrence have worked well throughout the last 50 years. They have helped America to negotiate a balancing of power in the world where 16 nations have or are trying to acquire biological weapons, 25 have chemical weapons and 16 have missile technologies to deliver weapons. In such a complex and even dangerous world, strategies for pre-emption carry with it the risk of unleashing war around the world. A preference for confrontation instead of cooperation can lead only to disaster.
Yet the Administration’s National Security strategy, of which this attack on Iraq is the auspicious beginning, spawns unilateral military action, pre-emption, cancellation of treaties, refusal to participate in treaties, using force to initiate regime change, assassination policies, and seizure of resources (such as oil) of conquered nations. This approach to international relations will not eliminate threats to the United States. It will increase anger and hostility to towards our nation. The policies imply that only the United States knows what is best for the world and the United States will act without consideration of our friends and allies and international law. As we go it alone in the world, we will be left alone in the world, to pay the price of security alone and suffer the insecurities alone.
America is losing its way at home and in the world. We have no money to rebuild America’s cities, but we have money to blow up cities in Iraq. No money to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless in America, but money to rain death, destruction, and starvation on Iraq. No money to build bridges over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, but money to blow up the bridges over the Tigris and the Euphrates.
We have a right to defend ourselves, but America is launching a pre-emptive, unilateral attack on a nation which has not attacked us and does not represent an imminent threat. Iraq was not responsible for 9/11. Iraq has not been credibly linked to Al Qaeda and 9/11. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein is moral. We know the answer to that. The question we face is whether our own nation will lose its moral authority in the world. We stand ready to send thousands of rockets into Iraq to destroy lives, families, houses, buildings, water systems, electrical systems, to light fires to force populations to move, to engage in house-to-house combat. All in the name of fighting terrorism, in the name of removing weapons of mass destruction.
“Somehow this madness must cease,” said Martin Luther King Jr. thirty-five years ago as he spoke out against the war in Vietnam. “I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted...I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam.”
Once again the hopes of people of two nations are being smashed by weapons in the name of eliminating weapons. Let us abolish weapons of mass destruction at home. I am from the inner city. I have inspected these weapons. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Hunger is a weapon of mass destruction. Poor healthcare is a weapon of mass destruction. Poor education is a weapon of mass destruction. Discrimination is a weapon of mass destruction.
Let us abolish such weapons of mass destruction here at home. Eight and a half million Americans are unemployed. Bankruptcies are up. The number of uninsured without healthcare is up. The price of prescription drugs is up. Homelessness is up. Hopelessness is up. Fear is up. Let us use the trillion dollars which some cast upon Iraq in bombs and warring troops instead for restoration of the American dream, to rebuild our cities and expand opportunities for all.
Those who say we can have guns and butter do not know the cost of guns and do not know the bread you would put your butter on is being stolen. America may spend over a trillion dollars for war in Iraq. America can give a trillion dollar tax cut to the rich, spend a trillion dollars to put weapons in space, but not a dime more for temporary assistance to needy families.
It is time to say stop this war. It is time to recognize that the terror we visit on the people of Iraq will bring terror to our own people. Bring our troops home. Come home and fix your broken streets and mend your broken dreams. Come home and rebuild your cities and create full employment, put millions who are unemployed back to work. Come home and establish a living wage, let workers share the wealth they create. Come home and provide affordable housing. Come home and provide single payer, guaranteed healthcare for the 42 million American who suffer illness with no relief. Come home America. Come home America and provide free public college for all who aspire to attend.
Come home and act affirmatively to make sure that all opportunities are afforded to all Americans. Twenty-five per cent of the opportunities to serve in the Army are afforded to African Americans. Our civilian life should offer opportunities as well, America! Come home and provide guaranteed social security for generations to come without privatization and without extending the retirement age which would be devastating to minorities. Come home, America and end racial profiling. Come home and fix your voting machines, restore both voting rights and your democracy. Come home and replace those civil rights lost to the Patriot Act. Come home and make non-violence an organizing principle within our society through the creation of a Department of Peace, America!
Stay the hand that would drop the bomb and extend the hand that grants mercy to innocent people abroad and to your own people here at home. “Come my friends, ‘tis not too late to seek a newer world,” said the poet. If America is to remain a leader and promoter of democracy in the world, we must lead the rest of the world to find diplomatic solutions to our problems. We cannot set a doctrine of pre-emption for our country and then expect other countries will not do the same. We must work to protect Americans, and our way of life, and work with people around the world without going to war.
It is not too late. It is time to rally Americans to the cause of peace. “We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war,” said Dr King.
We must not be the first to attack others. The United States can be the first in peace through international co-operation. Working for peace in a complex time requires strength, wisdom and courage. I believe the American people are people of strength, wisdom and courage. They have a right to expect their government to be truly representative!
Let us rally all Americans to the cause of peace and justice. It is time to make the peace movement and the movement for social and economic justice one. It is time to move away from war as an instrument of policy and move toward a higher plane where peace is inevitable because we will it, want it, and work for it with our hearts and with our souls.
Addendum: In Dennis’ May 14 extended interview on NPR, host Bob Edwards asked, “Is your realistic goal to win the presidential nomination or to raise these issues?” Dennis replied, “By raising these issues I’m going to win. By raising these issues, I’ll identify myself as the one candidate who is in touch with the practical aspirations of people and who sees that this country has the resources to address those aspirations.”
For more information on Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, please visithttp://www.kucinich.us or call toll free 866-413-3664. Campaign contributions may be sent to: Kucinich for President, 11808 Lorain Ave, 1st Fl, Cleveland, OH 44111.