The Bloodstained Path
by Dennis Kucinich
The Progressive magazine,
Unilateral military action by the United
States against Iraq is unjustified, unwarranted, and illegal.
The Administration has failed to make the case that Iraq poses
an imminent threat to the United States. There is no credible
evidence linking Iraq to 9/11. There is no credible evidence linking
Iraq to Al Qaeda. Nor is there any credible evidence that Iraq
possesses deliverable weapons of mass destruction, or that it
intends to deliver them against the United States.
When Iraq possessed and used weapons of
mass destruction, quite sad to say, it did so with the knowledge
of, and sometimes with materials from, the United States.
During the Administration of Ronald Reagan,
sixty helicopters were sold to Iraq. Later reports said Iraq used
U.S.-made helicopters to spray Kurds with chemical weapons. According
to The Washington Post, Iraq used mustard gas against Iran with
the help of intelligence from the CIA.
Iraq's punishment? The United States reestablished
full diplomatic ties around Thanksgiving of 1984.
Throughout 1989 and 1990, U.S. companies,
with the permission of the first Bush Administration, sent to
the government of Saddam Hussein mustard gas precursors and live
cultures for bacteriological research. U.S. companies also helped
to build a chemical weapons factory and supplied the West Nile
virus, fuel air explosive technology, computers for weapons technology,
hydrogen cyanide precursors, computers for weapons research and
development, and vacuum pumps and bellows for nuclear weapons
plants. "We have met the enemy," said Walt Kelly's Pogo,
"And he is us." Us.
Unilateral action on the part of the United
States, or in partnership with Great Britain, would for the first
time set our nation on the bloodstained path of aggressive war,
a sacrilege upon the memory of those who fought to defend this
country. America's moral authority would be undermined throughout
the world. It would destabilize the entire Persian Gulf and Middle
East region. And it would signal for Russia to invade Georgia;
China, Taiwan; North Korea, the South; India, Pakistan.
The United States must recommit itself
to the U.N. Charter, which is the framework for international
order. We have a right and a duty to defend ourselves. We also
have an obligation to defend international law. We can accomplish
both without going to war with Iraq.
There is a way out.
It must involve the United Nations. Inspections
for weapons of mass destruction should begin immediately. Inspectors
must have free and unfettered access to all sites.
The time has come for us to end the sanctions
against Iraq, because those sanctions punish the people of Iraq
for having Saddam Hussein as their leader. These sanctions have
been instrumental in causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands
of children. Emergency relief should be expedited. Free trade,
except in arms, must be permitted.
Foreign investments must be allowed. The
assets of Iraq abroad must be restored.
And a regional zone free of weapons of
mass destruction should be established.
The only weapon that can save the world
is nonviolence, said Gandhi. We can begin this practice today
by calling upon the Administration in Washington to stop the talk
of war, and stop the planning for war.
In their heart of hearts, the American
people do not want war on Iraq. The American people want peace.
There is no reason for war against Iraq.
Stop the drumbeat. Stop sending troops and supplies to Kuwait
and Qatar. Pull back from the abyss of unilateral action and preemptive
We know that each day the Administration
receives a daily threat assessment. But Iraq is not an imminent
threat to this nation. Forty million Americans suffering from
inadequate health care is an imminent threat. The high cost of
prescription drugs is an imminent threat. The ravages of unemployment
is an imminent threat. The slowdown of the economy is an imminent
threat, and so, too, the devastating effects of corporate fraud.
We must drop the self-defeating policy
of regime change. Policies of aggression and assassination are
not worthy of any nation with a democratic tradition, let alone
a nation of people who love liberty and whose sons and daughters
sacrifice to maintain that democracy.
The question is not whether or not America
has the military power to destroy Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The
question is whether we destroy something essential in this nation
by asserting that America has the right to do so anytime it pleases.
America 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 the service of international oil interests and arms
We must work to bring Iraq back into the
community of nations, not through destruction, but through constructive
action worldwide. We can help negotiate a resolution with Iraq
that encompasses unfettered inspections, the end of sanctions,
and the cessation of the regime change policy.
We have the power to do this. We must
have the will to do this. It must be the will of the American
people expressed through the direct action of peaceful insistence.
If the United States proceeds with a first
strike policy, then we will have taken upon our nation a historic
burden of committing a violation of international law, and we
would then forfeit any moral high ground we could hope to hold.
Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat
of Ohio, is head of the Progressive Caucus in Congress.