Kucinich Discusses Iraq Policy

Leslie Theophile

Presidential candidate Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio, speaks about the potential for global cooperation in Iraq to a Harvard Law School audience yesterday.

U.S. Congressperson and presidential hopeful Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio, discussed the need for global cooperation and answered wide-ranging questions from hundreds of mostly elderly supporters at Harvard Law School (HLS) yesterday.

The talk, sponsored by the HLS Democrats, was entitled “The Truth about Iraq.” Kucinich said that the concept of preemptive war was illegitimate and would actually result in increased danger to U.S. citizens.

Despite the speech being advertised as talk about Iraq, Kucinich opted to use the majority of his prepared time to extol upon the unified, peaceful world toward which he would strive if elected president.

Event organizer and HLS Democrats Vice President Ariel A. Neuman said that the topics covered by Kucinich were appropriate.

“The congressman had some issues he thought were important to the campaign, and those were the issues he chose to talk about,” said Neuman, a second-year law student.

Kucinich said that the United States is presently attempting to place itself above the global community, but that we should instead be equal partners in the world. To achieve that goal, he said, the United States needs to work with others to protect the environment and reduce nuclear proliferation. He called for the reinstatement of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the halt of funding for nuclear weapons and the end of the U.S. space weapons development program.

Kucinich also criticized what he said was a culture of war in America.

“War has infected our words, our thoughts, our deeds and our domestic and international actions,” he said.

To help change this tone, Kucinich said he would create a Department of Peace that would reach out to other nations to achieve worldwide goodwill—a proposal he sponsored in the House of Representatives in the summer of 2001.

“We can expand the power of the human heart far beyond where anyone ever thought it could go. That’s where I want to lead,” he said, after which the audience responded with a standing ovation.

Kucinich also said Americans should aim for peace at home by cutting down on crime and inequality before engaging in conflicts abroad.

After his initial remarks, Kucinich took questions from the audience about his presidential run and both foreign and domestic policies.

When asked about joining Ralph Nader on a presidential ticket, Kucinich responded that he did not foresee such a union.

“Let me make something absolutely clear,” Kucinich said. “My nomination will make Ralph Nader’s candidacy much less necessary.”

Kucinich spoke about Iraq when asked about his ideas by audience members. He said that the United States should turn over control of the rebuilding process to the United Nations.

He added that the nation needs to fund the U.N. peacekeeping effort and completely pay for the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and for reparations to those Iraqis that lost family members in the war.

He did, however, criticize the United Nations—and the Bush administration—for not taking a more active stance on the current crisis in Haiti.

Domestically, Kucinich said that Republicans could be inflating the national deficit so that they have an excuse to cut social programs.

Kucinich, who called for the resignation of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan earlier yesterday, emphasized the importance of social programs in the United States. Kucinich took issue with Greenspan’s recommendation to cut Social Security benefits, made at a hearing before the House Budget Committee yesterday, and blamed the Fed chair for not opposing White House fiscal policy.

In his speech, Kucinich said the United States needed more social services, not fewer.

He advocated for universal health and child care, tuition-free college education and the creation of a government job programs similar to those created during the Great Depression.

Kucinich said he would fund these programs by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy.

—Staff writer Alan J. Tabak can be reached at tabak@fas.harvard.edu.