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Kucinich Details His Views on Iraq War, Health Care Reform

In a series of interviews with presidential candidates, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, talks about his track record of voting against the Iraq war as well as his take on domestic issues such as health care and abortion.

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    Finally, in our ongoing series of conversations with Democratic and Republican presidential nomination candidates who are competing in the primary contests, tonight, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who is serving his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the former mayor of Cleveland, and he ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. I spoke with Dennis Kucinich earlier today.

    Congressman Kucinich, thank you very much for talking with us.

    REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), Ohio: Thank you very much. Good to be here, Judy.


    You were the only 2008 presidential candidate who, five years ago this week, voted against giving the president the authorization to go to war in Iraq. Now, Barack Obama was also against the war at that time. Right now, it's also Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel who want to get U.S. troops out of there right away, just like you do.

    So how do you distinguish your position today from the other candidates?


    Well, it's very easy, Judy. I not only voted against it, but I did an analysis five years ago that totally debunked the Bush case for war.

    As a matter of fact, the analysis that I did was 100 percent spot-on in asserting that there was no proof that Iraq had the intention or capability of attacking the United States, that they had anything to do with 9/11 or al-Qaida's role in 9/11, and certainly there was no proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

    My analysis was chapter and verse. And furthermore, it isn't — you know, to me it's not sufficient to say that you said something against the war, but when you get to the Senate — as Senator Obama did — and voted 100 percent of the time, up until recently, to fund the war, there's a contradiction there.


    But what about today? How is your position different?


    But today what's different is this, that not only did I reflect the capacity for judgment and wisdom at the moment of crisis when it really counts, but also today I have a plan that would bring our troops home and stabilize Iraq at the same time, and also leave Iraq in control of their oil.

    It's embodied in H.R. 1234. It's a plan to end the Iraq war. I submitted versions of that plan immediately after the invasion, but today there are many people who talk about ending the war, but I have the plan to do it and a way to stabilize Iraq at the same time.

    There's no one else who really has presented that awareness or who is saying, look, the privatization of Iraq's oil or the partition of Iraq is a path to continued war.


    What do you think Iraq will look like after U.S. troops are out of there?


    Well, you have to keep in mind that my plan calls for a parallel process. We end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home in parallel with an international security and peacekeeping force that moves in as our troops leave. I mean, that's the way you bring an end to the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

    Otherwise, you have the plans of Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, all of which will leave a U.S. presence in the region. And, frankly, we have to get out of there. We have to bring our troops home.

    So, you know, I've been consistent on this. And I'm the only one running for president who's been right from the start on this issue and has demonstrated a quality of judgment that people have a right to expect in a president of the United States about matters of international security.


    You have described yourself, I think, as a committed pacifist. Help us understand what that means. I mean, for example, after 9/11, the terrorist attack on the United States, if you had been president, what would you have done?


    Well, I think that we had a right to strike at the training camps. As a matter of fact, I voted for the resolution that gave the president the ability to do that.

    But, you know, the response has to be measured. What we've done in this search for top people in al-Qaida, we've destroyed a lot of villages along the border of Pakistan. You know, these missile strikes in places like Damadola killed a lot of innocent villagers under the pretext that somehow we were getting top-ranking people in al-Qaida.

    You know, we have done this all wrong. This administration has been wrong with every aspect of their international policy, beginning with the response to 9/11, continuing with the war against Iraq, and up to this moment planning for an attack on Iran. This administration's policy of peace through strength, the neoconservative policy, which endorsed preemption, unilateralism, first strike, I reject totally.

    I'm talking about strength through peace. No unilateralism, no preemption, no first strike, adherence to international law, and working with diplomacy, direct engagement, leader talking to leader in order to create security for our nation and for the world. I mean, that's the approach that a Kucinich presidency would bring.

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