On Friday the U.S. House or Representatives passed a bill to spend $120 billion mostly for the occupation of Iraq, and to require withdrawing U.S. troops by September, 200850x51. During debate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) – the only person running for president that voted against the Iraq war powers act – spoke against the bill52:
Four years ago Congress was told we have no alternative but to go to war. That was wrong. Now Congress is telling the American people we have no alternative but to continue the war and that by continuing the war for just another year or two, we will then be able to end the war. War equals peace? I don’t think so.
This war has achieved a momentum that has swept up into its tragic hold people of otherwise good will who would vote to continue a war when they really want peace and when the American people want peace.
I believe you cannot say that you are for peace and vote to keep this war going. … You cannot say you are for peace and give the President enough money not just to keep this war going, but to attack Iran if he so chooses.
Kucinich’s words carry weight, because he has been right about the Iraq war all along. In the fall of 2002, when Congress was considering the act that gave President Bush war powers in Iraq, Kucinich handed out to his fellow congressmen an analysis of the bill that time has largely proved correct53x54:
- “This language is so broad that it would allow the President to order an attack against Iraq even when there is no material threat to the United States.”
- “A unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States will cause instability and chaos in the region and sow the seeds of future conflicts all over the world.”
- “Unilateral action against Iraq will cost the United States the support of the world community, adversely affecting the war on terrorism.”
- “There is no credible evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”
- “There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11.”
The House passed the Iraq war powers act with near unanimous Republican support, but Kucinich’s fellow Democrats voted heavily against it (126-80)x55.
Kucinich went on in his speech to boost the Iraq bill that he proposed – H.R. 123456:
… what Congress has the power to do is to stop the war now, use the money in the pipeline to bring the troops home, set in motion a diplomatic process that would involve the world community in moving into Iraq as our troops move out.
H.R. 1234 would put into effect Kucinich’s twelve-point Iraq plan that he drew up working with military experts and U.N. peacekeeping and security experts57. The bill is based on several findings, among which are that the U.S. occupation fuels the insurgency in Iraq, and that a U.S. declaration of intent to withdraw would give an opening to start negotiations for a peaceful settlement. The bill makes several policy statements, among which are that the U.S. should end the occupation now while a U.N.-led peacekeeping force comes in, that the Defense Department should use readily available existing funds to bring the troops home, and that the Defense Department should order a return of all U.S. contractors and turn over all contracting work to the Iraqi government. The bill would require troops to be withdrawn within three months and prohibit use of funds for continued deployment, except for a safe and orderly withdrawal, the negotiations, and the peacekeeping force. H.R. 1234 now waits in committee.
Like the Iraq funding bill the House passed, the one the Senate is considering has a troop withdrawal clause58. But Bush said he would veto any bill with such a requirement. If Bush vetoes the war funding, and if Kucinich is right about enough money being in the pipeline for withdrawal, then the only responsible course that I see would be to end the occupation as laid out in H.R. 1234. But what if Bush, hell-bent for Iraq from his first day in office, holds out to cause a funding crisis with the two-billion-dollar-a-week occupation (while blaming Democrats for it)x59x60? How could we break this impasse? Something Kucinich said on the House floor two weeks ago points to one way61:
Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration, and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.”