Michael Shank: As one of the handful of Democrats that voted “No” on the Iraq supplemental bill, can you share the motivation for your decision?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: It’s very simple: the bill kept the war going. I want to see this war end. I have created, with the help of people who have worked on security and peacekeeping missions for years, a plan to end the war. It’s embodied in H.R. 1234. It would end the U.S. occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, establish a parallel process creating a peacekeeping and security force, reach out to the nations of the region and the international community for help – something we won’t get as long as we continue to occupy Iraq. That plan is much more expansive and in the course of this interview I’d be happy to go over it with you but in short, I oppose the resolution because it kept funding the war. And I say we need to end the war now. Not a year from now, not two years from now, not five or ten years from now, but now.
Shank: There has been some criticism of the supplemental’s timelines for withdrawal, i.e. that they are arbitrary. Why are timelines politically important, what message do they send?
Kucinich: I reject the idea of timelines. Now means now. If we set in motion a plan to end the occupation, close the bases, and bring the troops home, then we begin to establish the metrics of moving peacekeepers in and moving U.S. troops out. I’ve been told that such a plan would take 2-3 months to complete. But other than that, we have the capacity to get out. And I still advocate that.
Shank: And with the recent Senate vote that kept the timelines in the supplemental?
Kucinich: Let’s look at timelines and let’s look at the real budget. As we speak, the Senate said they want to create a timeline to end the war a year from now. The House advocated a timeline: by the end of August 2008. The budget that the House will pass this week contains $145 billion to keep the war going through the end of 2008 and another $50 billion to fund the war well into 2009.
Let’s talk about timelines in the context of funding because it’s funding that guides the timelines not the other way around. So now we’ve not only given the president the money to continue the war but we’re planning to give him money to keep the war going through the end of his term and into the next president’s term. What’s that about? Either we want to end the war or we don’t. If you’re for peace then you vote for peace and you vote to end the war. If you’re for peace then you can’t be voting to keep the war going and say that you are a peace advocate.
Continue reading the rest of the interview