So it’s fitting that a Democrat candidate for President would travel overseas to meet Syria’s leader (following in Nancy Pelosi’s footsteps), calling it an “honor to speak with his excellency” and saying that said leader should be “respected and appreciated”… while simultaneously going on Syrian television to call the sitting U.S. President a liar and American troops in the field of battle “illegal occupiers”.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, of course, my presence in Syria, in meeting with President Assad, is so that people are aware that there are members of Congress and in this case, a presidential candidate, who believes that Syria has a very important role to play in bringing about stability, in participating in a political process, which will help to create the conditions which will lead to peace. But this must come about from communication and so those of us who want to see this change are in a position to model the change that we hope to occur. So it was important to meet with his Excellency to exchange views as to how we can create a more peaceful world.
Interviewer: So, how did the meeting go?
Dennis Kucinich: It was a very good meeting. It was a meeting where President Assad showed a real desire to play a role in helping to create a peaceful settlement of the conditions in Iraq, as well as a grander approach towards creating peace. So it was a very important meeting, and I felt honored to have the chance to speak with him.
To me, Americans have an increased understanding today of how wrong the war was and is, and I think they’re looking for a new direction, and that’s certainly what I’m offering.
Interviewer: So, you were talking about the moment of decision. When it’s time to withdraw George Bush sends in more troops - the “surge.” How do you find that? How useful was that surge?
Dennis Kucinich: I’ve repeatedly challenged the thinking behind the surge. What I have said in offering a plan to our Congress, embodied in a resolution known as House Resolution 1234, is that the United States must end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, but we must have a parallel political process that reaches out to the international community, with the help of Syria and Iran, that would bring an international peace-keeping force, move it in as our troops , so there is no vacuum. That’s the beginning – it’s not the whole plan – but that’s the beginning of a plan. Certainly, increasing the occupation with a surge is counter-productive. It can only result in more deaths.
Interviewer: So you are with strengthening the position of the U.N. in Iraq?
Dennis Kucinich: Of course. I mean, there is a role for the U.N. I crafted my peace plan with the help of people who served in the U.N., including peace-keeping missions over the years, who understand that not only must we stabilize Iraq, but we also must pay reparations to the people of Iraq for the great human tragedy that has been caused. Perhaps as many as a million innocent Iraqis have lost their lives as a result of this war. You have countless people injured. Millions of refugees, many of them now…
Interviewer: In Syria.
Dennis Kucinich: A million and a half in Syria, and I met with some of them, and I can tell you that this is a great human tragedy. The United States must take steps to repair the damage that has been done to the lives of the people of Iraq for the people who have lost their lives. We need to help bring about a process of reconciliation between the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds. That cannot occur as long as there is an occupation. We need to see that there is honest reconstruction in Iraq, no Halliburton dishonest cheating of the people of Iraq and the people of the United States – the taxpayers.
Dennis Kucinich: There are many good-hearted people in the United States. I love my country.
Interviewer: You’re one of them.
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you. But I love my country, and I want my country to be loved by the world.
Interviewer: Which is not happening at the moment.
Dennis Kucinich: I know that, and that hurts me. It hurts my heart to know how America is seen in places around the world right now. But in my own way I am trying to change that, and the best way that we can change that is by telling the truth. The truth is the war was wrong. The truth is that great damage has been done to the Iraqi people. The truth is that we have to find a way to heal that. The truth is that we have to reach out to the world to get help. And so all those things are what I try to do to follow the path of the truth, and I think that as America shows its goodness once again we can cause the world to love America once again. And that’s what I’m about.
The fact of the matter is we are all being weakened by continuing a war that’s based on a lie. This war was based on lies. Iraq didn’t have the weapons of mass destruction. It wasn’t connected to 9/11. It had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda’s role in 9/11. What are we there for? So I have stood up repeatedly and said: “Look, stop the war.” Once the war started: “Here’s the plan to get out and stop funding the war.” And so we’ve had many opportunities now and I think it’s very clear that we now have to focus on a peace plan, reach out to the world community, and that can only happen with those of us who are involved in the process meeting with people to see if there is an interest. And I’ll tell you, President Assad, today, indicated a very strong interest in playing a role to help bring about stability in Iraq, and the fact of the matter is - whether the Bush administration wants to admit it or not – that President Assad is actually helping by providing a sanctuary in which Iraqi refugees can come. This is a great humanitarian crisis that’s been created by this war. And Syria is one of the few countries in the world who has opened its arms to the Iraqi refugees, who have come here, with only the clothes on their back, and are looking for a way to survive. It is an extraordinary gesture on the part of the Syrian government that they would provide an opportunity for people to save their lives. And so this is something that I think needs to be recognized. And it also shows that here is a man, President Assad, who should be respected and appreciated for the role that he has played. And so it is important for the United States to take that gesture as a sign, a very powerful demonstration, of the willingness to try to achieve peace. And I think we need to move forward with that understanding.
Interviewer: So does George Bush actually not see himself as having failed in Iraq? Does he think that he has done something right?
Dennis Kucinich: I would expect that he probably believes that he’s doing the right thing.
Interviewer: So he would continue using the same rhetoric in Lebanon as well - this is with Syria in mind.
Dennis Kucinich: I think that’s probably true. And of course, this is part of the tragedy - that our president is not understanding the mountain of evidence which indicates what a failure the policy in Iraq has been. Not only failure, but how totally wrong it was from the beginning. Because you can talk about something being a failure, and perhaps the cause may have been correct. But in this case, the cause was wrong from the beginning. In the Christian Bible, there is a phrase that says: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight.” The effort against Iraq was dishonest, or crooked, from the beginning, and nothing good can come of it, except: The international community is needed to become involved to put together a peace-keeping and security force that can move in as the U.S. determines that it must end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home. That’s the direction we must take. But we have to understand that the policy was based on a lie.
If this isn’t “aid and comfort”, I don’t know what is. The only thing missing is a shout out to his homies, Mahmoud and Osama.