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Breaking the Spell of Fear

Author: Dennis Kucinich
September 1, 2003
Foreign Affairs

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Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-OH
Iowa City, IA
September 1, 2003

Good evening. What a great turnout! Thank you for being here.

I am running for President to inspire America to take new path, a different direction. Americans are contemplating the direction the country might take. Fear is still pervasive. USA Today had a poll last week which showed that the majority of Americans expect a terrorist attack within the next month and a half.

There is a sense of tentativeness about the future; a disconnection from the optimism that is so characteristic of Americans. The fear that has draped our country like a dark cloud is a product of misinformation, untruths, of outright lies. There has been a deliberate effort to engender in the hearts of Americans a kind of paralysis by keeping Americans in the dark about the true cause of our nations' actions.

We will soon observe the 2nd anniversary of 9/11 - the great tragedy that befell this nation and the world. It is a time worthy of reflection. America could have taken a different course after 9/11. After 9/11, the heart of the world was open to the U.S., the people were prepared to embrace the U.S., its sorrow and its tragedy. It was a moment when we needed to reach out and work with the world community, to reconnect to the world community in the cause of international cooperation.

The world needed the U.S. to step forward to touch people around the world, to make it a transformational moment in human experience, to say we're not stuck in tragedy.

Instead, America acted alone, unto itself. This created for our country the enmity of nations which have been our friends. Great difficulty was created in trying to reach any kind of peaceful approach.

America - through its leaders - made a choice, and it was sorrowfully a conscious choice toward war. The day after 9/11, there was a choice made in the National Security Council. Secretary Rumsfeld said we should use the occasion of 9/11 to go after Iraq.

The U.S. knew there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11 - it didn't matter. There was never any connection between Iraq and 9/11, between Iraq and Al Qaeda's role in 9/11, between Iraq and the anthrax attacks on this country. There was never any proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Yet this Administration proceeded along a path deliberately toward war. They rejected cooperation with the UN and failed to look at any evidence that disproved the cause of

War. As a result, they created such fear in America.

In this room, I bet many of you had an experience in the last year and a half with the passage of the Patriot Act, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the drumbeat for war, the sharp increases in the Pentagon budget - many of us felt, `wow, what's happening to America? Where are they taking our country?'

It's as if an America is being created that we barely recognize…there is something different, foreign, about our cause of nationhood. Something is being disconnected from the heart of our country. The American spirit was being depressed - getting people to be careful about their phone conversations, careful about who they might meet with, starting to look the other way when someone of another color, another race, someone connected to the Middle East was in proximity.

The kind of suspicion and foreboding that's been created in this country has separated us as Americans, one to another. It has separated us as people of the world, separated us from other nations, separated us from our true destiny, from our ability to create a new world.

I think that we are at a transformational moment, when we are called upon to break the shackles of fear and step up to our roles as Americans who are optimistic, who are hopeful, who are peaceful, who want to rejoin the world community in the cause of peace; to rejoin the world community in the cause of humanity, to lift up the world community instead of destroying it. (cheers)

It's time, America, to reclaim who we are; to stand up for our tradition, to remember what it means to be American. It's not about war, it's not about injustice. Courage America. Courage. (cheers)

How can we reconnect? How can we effectively let go of this fear which has paralyzed the capacity for thought, which has paralyzed the capacity for political action? How can we reclaim who we are?

It's been said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

The cause of this election must be to communicate with the American people the truth about our misadventure in Iraq. That America went the wrong way, that the Bush Administration lied to the American people to take us into war. (cheers)

We must tell the truth to the American people. If we don't tell the people the truth, there is no way to lift the fear, because our fear is based on misconceptions. We do have challenges to security - that's true. But only by working with the world community can we meet these challenges. America has a right to defend herself, but we must expect that an Administration knows the difference between defense and offense. And this Administration went on the offense. It did so illegally, in violation of the UN charter, the Geneva convention and our own U.S. constitution. (cheers)

How are we going to move forward to regain who we are as a nation?

We have to look at the consequences of the choices that we made. Let's start with the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was passed in an atmosphere of deep fear in Washington. Members of Congress were besieged with great numbers of security guards. Imagine people in front of white marble buildings wearing camouflage. In front of white marble buildings wearing camouflage (laughs)

The fear and irrationality of Washington caused Congress to pass, in the dead of night, a law they never saw. It passed because of fear and because it was called "the Patriot Act." Sounds good…we're all Patriots. Actually, I wasn't for it. I have a rule of thumb in Washington - I don't vote for anything I haven't seen. (cheers)

Over 120 communities passed resolutions against the Patriot Act, because they understood that it is the most gross intrusion into the life of this nation, of our civil rights.

The Patriot Act lets the government inquire into your reading lists, check into your medical records, determine what videos you are watching. The Patriot Act gave the government broad wiretap authority.

Patriot Act 2 would give government the ability to gather financial information, medical records and genetic information, Where does this end?

The underlying issue is that the government doesn't trust the people anymore. They've taken "US" out of the word trust. So what we have is a government that is disconnected from its purpose of governance - which is to create a more perfect union, to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and posterity. That's our plan. They've forgotten it.

As President of the United State, I will direct the Justice Department to file suit to nullify the Patriot Act to reclaim our civil rights (cheers). And, in the next few weeks, I'll be introducing legislation in the Congress of the United States to effectively cancel the Patriot Act (cheers).

So it's about fear. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security with 171,000 employees - it will take them 10 years to figure out what they are supposed to do. Meanwhile, funds for police, fire and EMS are cut all over America. All cities have seen their funds reduced. We're going in the wrong direction. We need hometown security. We need the security that comes from communities that are strong and that have the support of local enforcement personnel.

Instead, we're going in the direction of a national police force, with national intrusiveness, away from democratic principles.

Fear drove a 13% increase in the Pentagon budget. The Pentagon is now spending over $400 billion/year, plus $5 billion/month for the war in Iraq. We're spending more and more for the military. Meanwhile, education is cut by $10 billion, veteran affairs cut by $25 billion. Health care, but by billions. All our social needs - cut. State budgets - cut. State budgets for education - cut. Everything is being reduced in this country except the Pentagon.

We're spending more than all of the other nations of the world put together. In return, war. We're getting the capacity for war, not the capacity to wage peace.

We have an obligation to protect our nation. But we don't have to spent the treasure of our nation on huge arms buildups that separate us from the world. (cheers) Fear, that's what does it.

So, what direction may America take?

I envision an America which has the capacity to reconnect with the heart of the world. Am America which proceeds in the world optimistically and courageously. An America which understands that the world is interdependent, that it is inter-connected. An America which has the view of the world as one, which takes steps to support that view through supporting a structure of international law.

As next President of the United States, I intend to lead the way to work with the nations of the world for total nuclear disarmament and total nuclear abolition (cheers). It is time America.

In order to affirm the structure of international law, I will take steps to sign the biological weapons convention, the chemical convention, the landmine treaty, the small arms treaty, the International Criminal Court agreement, the Kyoto climate change treaty (cheers). It is time for America to rejoin the world (cheers). Confidently, optimistically, hopefully, courageously. America (cheers).

We have to believe in the validity of our dreams, the capacity of our power. We have to believe that we as human beings have the ability to evolve.

That's what underlies a proposal which 50 members of Congress have now supported to create a Cabinet level Department of Peace. As John Lennon sung, "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." We must have faith in our ability to create a new America.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked to make non-violence a foundational principle in America. The Department of Peace aims to do nothing less than to make non-violence an organizing principle in our society, Through looking at those issues which have afflicted America - domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse. All of these things which percolate and create violence in our homes have resonance with the violence in the rest of the world. We all know this, but we seldom talk about it.

We seldom work to create a world in which we create a structure in our society that can elevate our condition. We need to believe that we can help this country evolve and be better than it is. To help remove the scourge of spousal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence. Look at the violence that exists in our communities - racial violence, police-community relations, violence against gays, violence in our schools. We need to have a systematic organizing approach toward dealing with this.

The Department of Peace is about that. It is about tapping the capacities which we have. Those capacities within us are infinite. It is our politics that is limited. It is our politics that doesn't have a vision to understand how far America could go with this dream. (cheers).

So we have to challenge ourselves to be more than we are, to reconnect with the purpose of our founders to form a more perfect union. On the international level, the Department of Peace aims to do nothing less that make war itself archaic. We need to end war before war ends us (cheers).

We need to challenge the nations of the world to lay down their swords, and make them into plowshares.

It is time for America to reach for a new ere; to believe in the power of our vision, in the power of our dreams. To believe that we can create a better world for ourselves, for our children, for future generations. To be proud of our legacy - a legacy of peace, a legacy of social and economic justice. A legacy that we can be sure will lead us toward a new society, a better world.

There is a possibility that we will be able to say that is in this generation that we make that new beginning, that we work to create a new world.

This is the cause of this campaign. This is the cause of this movement.

I ask you to join me. I ask you to help me help Iowa send a message across the U.S. and the world, that we are ready for a new beginning, a new beginning of peace, a new beginning for the human heart in this country, a new beginning for the uplifting of the human spirit.

Thank you very much (standing ovation and loud cheers)