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Remarks on Saddam Hussein's Capture and Iraq Occupation

Author: Dennis Kucinich
December 18, 2003

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH
Mt. Vernon, Iowa
December 18, 2003

At this moment, most Presidential candidates and people in the Administration, including military officials, have resigned themselves to a course of action that would place the United States in a continued military occupation of Iraq for years. I am here today as a candidate for President of the United States to insist that this is the wrong course of action. The United States should be reaching out to the world community to come up with a whole new plan to get our troops out of Iraq. We need to bring in UN peacekeepers and bring our troops home.

You haven't heard that reflected in any of the national media, because the media was promoting this war. They promoted the war, and they drove up support for the war, even though there was no proof that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, or that Iraq had vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction. There is still no evidence of that.

The media promoted this war, and now the media does not want to create a debate in this country about whether we should be in a military occupation of Iraq. This is a serious matter for our democracy. I'm suggesting to you that with the capture of Saddam Hussein, this is the moment for the United States to seize a new initiative. We should go to the United Nations with a new plan, and that new plan should involve the following:

  1. The United States gives up ambitions for the control of the oil of Iraq. Let the UN handle the oil on an interim basis until the Iraqi people can become self-governing.
  2. The US hands over to the United Nations the contracting process. No more Halliburton sweetheart deals, no more war profiteering, no more contracts going to Administration favorites. Let the UN handle that on behalf of the Iraqi people until the Iraqi people can become self-governing.
  3. The United States must give up ambitions to privatize the Iraqi economy. It is illegal to go into any nation, to invade it, to seize its assets, and then try to chop up that nation's resources and sell them to the highest or lowest bidder. It's a violation of international law. It is a violation of the Geneva and the Hague conventions. We must as a nation renounce any interest in privatizing the Iraqi economy. When we do that, it will help us persuade the UN to take over.
  4. The United States must turn over to the UN the business of helping the people of Iraq develop a new constitution. It will be impossible for any government elected in Iraq that has ties to the United States to have any credibility. This Administration would like to run Iraq by remote control. But it is clear that is not going to happen, because the clerics in Iraq are already insisting on free and open elections, and they are not going to accept any structure allowing the United States to maintain its influence over Iraq.

Letting the UN handle the oil on an interim basis; letting the UN handle the contracts on an interim basis; forgoing any interest in privatization; and turning over the cause of governance to the UN are four principles that, if enacted through a US-sought UN resolution, would gain the support of the world community. We would be able to begin sending UN peacekeepers in and bringing our troops home.

I want the American people to know that there is no legitimate reason in the world for our troops to continue to be involved in a military occupation in Iraq. I intend in this presidential campaign to rally the American people in the cause of ending that occupation and bringing our troops home and sending in UN peacekeepers.

This is the moment. The capture of Saddam Hussein gives us a new opening to take steps in this direction. Now, before the capture US leaders were saying, "well, we have to stay there until we find Saddam Hussein." Now they are saying "well, we have to stay there because now the insurgency will increase for a while because we've found Saddam Hussein."

We have to get out of Iraq. It was wrong to go in. It is wrong to stay in. It is time for us to reconnect with the world community in the cause of making America safer. The only way we can be safe as a nation is through international cooperation. The invasion of Iraq has made America less safe. It has helped to create a resurgence for Al Qaeda. It has enabled Al Qaeda to, in effect, create a recruiting poster based on the actions of the United States. This is very clear.

Yet almost all the other presidential candidates are now going along with the Bush Administration's military occupation. That's why I'm here, to tell you there is another voice, and it is a voice that has been consistent and will not be relenting until we get out of Iraq.

I know this is not the only issue in America. But let me tell you something. The longer we stay in Iraq, the higher the casualties. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more money it is going to cost. And the money we spend in Iraq is money taken away from education, away from health care, away from housing, away from a whole social and economic agenda.

Don't believe for a second that our presence in Iraq isn't going to sap the vitality of this nation. It is going to undermine our own agenda here at home. It is urgent that we get out.

In response to a question: If we do not take this course of action we will be in Iraq for years. Sooner or later the demand of the American people will become so powerful that it will not be possible to ignore. But here's my question: why should we wait for thousands more of our young men and women to die? Why should we wait for hundreds of billions of dollars - half a trillion or more - of the resources that you need for your future, why should we wait for that to be wasted?

What are we waiting for? We know full well the path we must take: not only restoring Iraq by paying for what we blew up, but also by providing reparations to those families of innocent civilian non-combatants who were killed by our action.

We also must provide money to sustain a UN peacekeeping force.

We have a way out. I want to know why the other candidates for President aren't talking about it. Why are the Democrats conceding this to President Bush? I am not going to concede a single thing to President Bush. It is time to challenge an Administration that took this country on a path of unilateralism and preemption.