"President Obama has authorized U.S. airstrikes to defend U.S.-trained Syrian rebels who come under attack, including from the Syrian government. Fewer than 60 rebels have completed the U.S. training program aimed at defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The first-known U.S. airstrikes to defend the forces from militants were launched last week. Anonymous officials told news outlets the United States would provide offensive strikes to support advances against ISIL but defend the rebels against any group that attacks them. Meanwhile, a Syrian government warplane has crashed amid air raids in the rebel-held northwestern town of Ariha, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens."
"The bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed at least 459 civilians, including 100 children, in 52 air strikes, according to a new report by Airwars, a project by a group of independent journalists.
Commenting on the supposed precision of air strikes against Isis, the Airwars project leader Chris Woods has told the Guardian that this “hasn’t been borne out by facts on the ground”.
This is one of the first reports examining the number of civilian casualties which have resulted from the savage bombing campaign against Isis militants. The lack of official interest in and support for investigating these casualties means that their number may actually be far higher. The violence on the ground also greatly impedes the verification of casualties.
...Western intervention in Iraq and Syria is adding fuel on the fire of a savage war. As the experience of more than a decade of terroristic “war on terror” shows us, Western intervention contributes to a vicious cycle of brutalising violence. It increases suffering and is a major cause of bitterness against the West."
Dennis Kucinich told us why these bombings are taking place:
"Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration's foreign policy than funding groups that turn on the U.S. again and again, a neo-con fueled cycle of profits for war makers and destruction of ever-shifting "enemies."
The fact can't be refuted: ISIS was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.
This Frankenstein-like experiment of arming the alleged freedom-seeking Syrian opposition created the monster that roams the region. ISIS and the U.S. have a curious relationship -- mortal enemies that, at the same time, benefit from some of the same events:
a) Ousting former Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki for his refusal to consent to the continued presence of U.S. troops in his country.
b) Regime change in Syria.
c) Arming the Kurds so they can separate from Iraq, a preliminary move to partitioning Iraq.
What a coincidence for war-profiteering neo-cons and the war industry, which has seen its stock rise since last week's congressional vote to fund the rapid expansion of war. We have met the enemy and he isn't only ISIS, he is us.
Phase two of the war against Syria is the introduction of 5,000 "moderate" mercenaries (as opposed to immoderate ones), who were trained in Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Wahhabism, at an initial installment cost of $15 billion. These new "moderates" will replace the old "moderates," who became ISIS, just in time for Halloween.
The administration, in the belief that you can buy, rent, or lease friends where they otherwise do not exist, labor under the vain assumption that our newfound comrades-in-arms will remain in place during their three-year employment period, ignoring the inevitability that those "friends" you hire today could be firing at you tomorrow.
One wonders if Saudi training of these moderate mercenaries will include methods of beheading which were popularized by the Saudi government long before their ISIS progeny took up the grisly practice.
The U.S. is being played.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia can now overtly join with the U.S. in striking Syria, after they have been covertly attempting for years to take down the last secular state in the region. We are now advancing the agenda of the actual Islamic States -- Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- to fight the ersatz Islamic State of ISIS.
...What does this have to do with the security of the 50 States United? Nothing!
Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.
To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States -- The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced - yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.
This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.
And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.
...But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House's popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.
But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.
There were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.
In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.
The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush's war, realize(d) in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac."
Our politics is trapping us into fabricated causes of war. People who want to appear tough and decisive leaders promote war, and it generally works for a time. Now we know the truth about Iraq, that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no intention or capability of attacking the US. We are learning the truth about Libya, that Libya was not facing genocide.at the hands of its leader.
I led the effort against both wars and saw and disclosed early evidence which argued heavily against both wars, yet in both cases the country was swept up into war by leaders who knew no other course of action. In both cases, those responsible for taking us into war under false pretenses have not had to account.
These wars are making us less safe. Americans long for another type of security, the security of jobs, decent wages, a good education, housing, retirement security, investment security, neighborhoods free of the fear of violent crime. We must demand our leaders shake their addiction to the violence of war, quite wasting money and lives and start taking care of things back here at home.
Yesterday, the US Senate Intelligence committee released its long-awaited report of the CIA torture practices.
As some of you may remember, six years ago I brought some of the same information about illegal torture in Article XVIII of the Impeachment President Bush.
One surprising response in the Senate report is that the torture, called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ was “ineffective,” as if torture would have been OK if the torturers at the CIA had gained ‘useful’ information!
The CIA’s post-911 history of the use of torture, documented in the Senate report should cause every American to demand release of the full, unredacted report. There should be no hiding place nor refuge for anyone who was involved in the program. Torturers and those who authorized them ought to be brought to justice.
Once again we see the need for a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, where the American people can finally come face to face with the lies which our nation has been living since 911, address those lies and chart a new course of truth, at home and in the world.
It is imperative that the American people know what was done in our name and what continues to be done by our government and its agencies to promote division and war around the world.
Please contribute to our on-going efforts to keep the American people aware of the truth and of a path to action to reclaim our nation.
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” This is a direct quote from an interview with then-Senator Obama in the Boston Globe on December 20, 2007.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution makes it clear that only the Congress has the power to take the nation to war. Yet tonight, President Obama claimed that authority for himself: “I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL.... I welcome congressional support.” Apparently the US Constitution is now optional. -- Dennis Kucinich
The Israeli Defense Forces bombed a 12 story, 44 suite apartment building in Gaza City today, claiming that Hamas had an operational presence in an apartment. The entire structure was reduced to rubble after a second missile hit.
This is another example of the disproportionate use of force and collective punishment of a civilian population, both of which are war crimes.
Former 16-year member of the U.S. Congress
and two-time U.S. presidential candidate
Militarized Police and
the Threat to Democracy
As a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweeping through Ferguson, Missouri.
We are at a moment of national crisis in the way our domestic law enforcement is being conducted. The killing of an unarmed civilian by a law enforcement officer is, sadly, not unique. But the police response to the protests has provided a powerful cautionary moment for America. The militarization of local police has led to the arrival today in Ferguson of the actual military, the National Guard.
This crisis comes from:
1) The erosion of a principle in federal law, Posse Comitatus, meant to restrict the use of the military in civilian law enforcement;
2) The Pentagon's dispersal of military equipment to domestic police units, which has increased since 9/11;
3) Military-style police training reliant upon weaponry, as opposed to peace keeping, including skills development for de-escalation of violent tensions.
An unarmed, African-American teenager was shot and killed by a policeman. As people protested, the Ferguson police response evoked images of an occupying army come home.
The show of military-style force in an AmAs a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinerican city has created a huge backlash because the underlying concerns for justice have not been addressed. Moreover, Americans don't want armies patrolling their streets, attempting to stifle public dissent.
There is something deep in the American psyche which resents and resists military-style force in our neighborhoods. The hard-edged military pose of armored vehicles, heavy duty weaponry, and sound cannons, which can permanently damage hearing, may seem like modern crowd control to some law enforcement officials. But to the people in the community who are on the receiving end, it is an escalation of violence, in real terms and by the law.
A quick review of pertinent American history:
The Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770, was a catalyst toward the American Revolution. Five civilians were killed by the British soldiers. The Declaration of Independence, in condemning the offenses against liberty by George III, stated:
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states
From our earliest beginnings, when John Adams spoke to "the dangers of standing armies," Americans have demanded accountability and rejected military presence in our daily lives.
Yet, for purposes of security, the Framers provided Congress with the power "To provide for calling forth the militia to exAs a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinecute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions."
The invocation of that provision has a checkered history: The Army has been involved in enforcing slavery, strike-breaking, and interfering in the 1876 Hayes-Tilden election in the South.
Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican, became president in a deal, "The Compromise of 1876," which led to federal troops being remAs a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinoved from the former Confederate states in the south, ending Reconstruction and dashing the hopes of African Americans for full civil rights.
Eighty years later the federal government would attempt to acquit itself of that sell-out by using a federalized national guard to challenge segregation, enforcing African-American students' rights to attend public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 1877 a law was passed which forbade tAs a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinhe use of federal military resources in domestic law enforcement in any manner. The proscription, popularly known as Posse Comitatus, held up for more than a century.
In the past two decades the United States Congress began to chip away at the firewall between democratic policing and militarization, passing legislation authorizing the Department of Defense to give local police information on military training, and to provide equipment and facilities.
As a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinLocal police departments became the recipients of military-grade weaponry, guns, tanks, armor, planes and the like. With the military equipment came the mind-set of police becoming warfighters, in a hostile environment -- in one's own community.
The governor of Missouri did not have to invoke martial law in Ferguson for it to look like martial law.
As Americans become aroused over social, economic and political conditions which speak to the failure of government to protect the civil rights of all people and the failure to address the practical aspirations As a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinof the American people, this is the time to demand Congress understand the significance of the Declaration when it comes to protecting our freedoms in the 21st century.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Congress must firmly re-establish the firewall between civilian law enforcement and the military by reinstating the intent of the Posse Comitatus law. As member of Congress I warned in 2007 the dangers of a bill which permitted the government to put troops on the ground in the US.
2. The Department of Defense must stop providing war-fighting equipment to local law enforcement.
3. All equipment provided to local law enforcement by the Department of Defense, must be inventoried and stored, not used except under an executive order from the top civilian authority in a state, the Governor, or under orders of the President of the United States.As a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepin
4. The General Accounting Office and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense must be asked by Congress to determine the extent to which the training and equipping of local police by the DOD has created a culture in local law enforcement which is adverse to democratic values.
5. The Justice Department needs to fund programs which will train or retrain local law enforcement in racial sensitivity, constitutional protections of suspects, including the right to freedom of speeAs a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinch and right to assemble.
6. The Justice Department must also fund, support and mandate that all local law enforcement receiving any federal funds whatsoever create community programs for dialogue between local police and people in the neighborhood. Local police become an occupying army through emotional distancing, fear and lack of contact with the community. That can change by having police and the community meet regularly to discuss As a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinmutual concerns.
Those who serve in local law enforcement are given special trust, special dispensation to serve and protect. Their work is essential. Local police would like to be supported. But we must demand strict adherence to the Constitution and protection of the freedoms given to us by the Bill of Rights.
Let's insist on the following principles:
Well trained, culturally diverse, de-milAs a former big city mayor of a racially diverse city, Cleveland, Ohio, I can understand the cross currents sweepinitarized local police forces to protect our neighborhoods.
The military to defend our nation.
And a rule of law which applies to a man with a badge and a gun, just as it applies to an unarmed teenager.
Events in Ferguson, Missouri have touched off a broader discussion about how the war machine is killing democracy. Anyone who does not feel a sense of alarm about the arbitrary use of state power is not paying attention. Wake up America!
Your country is being lost to militarism. Please read this article by David Swanson for a detailed discussion http://davidswanson.org/node/4487
This image best describes what is happening in Gaza. Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison. Even calling the action against Palestinians in Gaza a war seems lacking in description.
A war implies some equality in combat.
What is happening in Gaza is a massacre by one of the world’s most powerful armies, abetted by the silence of western nations.
Fortunately people are beginning to speak out worldwide. But as we speak out, let us do so without condemning a people in whose name a government may act.
We must distinguish between governments and the people who are governed.
We must reconnect with each other’s humanity.
The plight of the Palestinian people is ultimately the plight of the entire world, locked into endless conflicts which make no sense, which could be avoided, which constitute enormous abuse of power and which bring the slaughter of innocents.
Let our hearts be moved by the desire to end war once and for all. ~ Dennis Kucinich
"Gazans have no army, navy, or air force with which to defend. Israel, as any nation, has a right to defend itself, but it confuses offense with defense. It is on the offensive in Gaza…Israel, with its overwhelming military strength, is attacking and invading Gaza in violation of international and U.S. law. Its construction of settlements violates the Oslo agreement. Its Central Bank dries up the Gaza economy and blocks payments to Gazan civil servants. Its total control brings the Palestinians to utter subjection and total despair.
There will be no peace, for now, as Gaza is turned into an abattoir, to collectively punish Gazans for supporting Hamas. Israel, in its attempt to divide Hamas from the Gazans, will actually multiply Hamas' strength in Gaza and elsewhere…Israel can kill, injure, and humiliate Palestinians at will, with impunity, which is exactly what gave rise to Hamas and strengthens Hamas' hold in Gaza, even as the IDF advances." Dennis Kucinich.
Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
In Stanley Kubrick's classic film, "2001 A Space Odyssey," just after the majestic opening of Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra, a soaring sun, splitting the darkness, seemingly heralds the new Genesis, and next a man-ape uses a femur bone to dispatch the leader of another group in order to gain control over a water hole. The simple act of one mammal clubbing another to death is what Friedrich Nietzsche, in his novel "Thus Spake Zarathustra," may have countenanced as "the eternal recurrence of the same." Yet, Kubrick does not leave us stranded upon the darkling plain of brute violence. For emotion is admitted and so exultant is the conqueror at the demise of his competitor that he flings the femur skyward in triumph and through the match-cut magic of moviemaking, the femur tumbles end over end, high up into the heavens, where it is transformed - into a space station.
We surf on Kubrick's monolith into an evolutionary spiral across space and millions of years, now equipped with high technology but burdened with the signal responses of our lower limbic system and its embedded fight-flight conflicts, ever ready to take up the electronic cudgel to drive contestants out of water holes or oil holes. Violence is. Its expression neither regressive nor progressive, it exists as a disconnection from our own divinity, a fall from the heavens, a departure from grace, a descent into the lower circles of that philosophical hell of dichotomous thinking, of us versus them, whoever they are. The invention of the other, the evocation of the out-group, the conjuring of the enemy are the precedents of violence. We hear the siren call. But what makes us answer the tocsin of rage clanging in our heads, in our homes, in our cities and in the world? Could it be the ripping of the moorings of our reality, the anxiety of separation shaking our core, the earthquake beneath our ground of meaning, dissecting through our bedrock beliefs when we learn that what we thought was true is indeed false? Peter Berger once wrote that reality is socially constructed and culturally affirmed. What happens when the sociopathic trumps the authentic?
We cannot justify violence, but we must determine its roots. Before Kubrick, before Strauss, there was Zarathustra, or Zoroaster himself. He confronted us with this moral proposition: That the central struggle of our existence is the determination of what is true and what is false. Is it our inability to strive for, to discern, to receive and to know truth that binds us to violence? Is what we see what we get? Are we bound to truth-shattering illusions? How do we know what we are told is true? Has the misuse of power in our society so distorted meaning that truth and lies are indistinguishable, or worse, morally relative? These are questions of import in our interpersonal relations and the consequences of untruth grow geometrically when a major progenitor of perceptions in our society, the government, stumbles or seeks and practices to mislead.
To ponder that question, let us first look at another production called 2001: September 11, 2001, the catastrophe of nearly 3,000 innocent souls perishing in waves of hate. That date is burned into our memories as one of the worst days we have ever known. We know the choices which our government made, acting with the tacit consent of we the people, to respond to the 9/11 crimes committed against our nation. But we seldom reflect on our government's response, as though to do so publicly is either impolitic or un-American. Is it rude to mention that in response to the crime and tragedy on September 11, 2001 we began a descent to officially sanctioned mass murder called war, into the lower circles of the infernos of torture, rendition and drone assassination? We established an anti-democratic state of emergency which exists to this day, with its Orwellian "Patriot Act," its massive spying networks, its illegal detention, its extreme punishment of whistleblowers, and its neo-police state in violation of posse comitatus, which put MPs on the streets of Washington, DC, during the recent Inaugural.
We have cut and pasted the Constitution in the manner of a disambiguated Word Document, through sheer casuistry excising those sections that guarantee protection from unreasonable search and seizure, which protect individuals' rights of habeas corpus and due process, which prohibit any one person from simultaneously being policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner and coroner. Violence has enabled the government to grow and the republic to shrink.
It was ten years ago that the United States (despite a massive peace movement that put millions in the streets protesting the upcoming attack) launched a full-scale attack on the nation of Iraq. Shock and Awe it was called. Hellfire was brought to the cradle of civilization, its people, its culture, its antiquities in our name, for a war based on lies. In awe of our weapons, we shocked ourselves, vicariously, with their effects, never experiencing the horror visited upon the people of Iraq.
When I say we I mean all morally conscious Americans. Over a million Iraqis were killed in our name, for a war based on lies. In awe of our destructive power and its toll on innocent human life, we shocked ourselves and then returned to our normal lives. Trillions of dollars of damage was done to that country, in our name, for a war based on lies. Trillions more were spent by US taxpayers, for a war based on lies. In awe of the monetary cost of war, we shocked ourselves with massive deficits. Thousands of US troops were killed and tens of thousands wounded. In awe of the long-term, human cost of war, we shocked ourselves with broken lives, broken families, suicides, PTSD.
Shock and awe, indeed. We attacked a nation which did not attack us and which had neither the intention nor capability of doing so. We attacked a nation which did not have the yellowcake to be processed into the substance fit for a nuclear warhead. We attacked a nation which did not have weapons of mass destruction. We visited upon the people of Iraq the equivalent of one 9/11 a day for a year and with it the irretrievable rending of families, of places to live, places to work, places to worship, ripping apart Iraqi society in a war which soon became so remote to the US population that it was finished off by unmanned vehicles. The mission that was "accomplished" was wanton destruction, ecocide, alienation, statecraft puppetry - and for what?
What was it all about? It did not make us safer. It weakened our military. It killed and injured our soldiers. It seriously weakened our nation financially. The long-term cost of the post 9/11 wars of choice will run over six trillion dollars. Want one reason why we have a $16 trillion debt? We borrowed money from China, Japan and South Korea to pursue wars while those countries Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)built their economies and their infrastructure. We blew up bridges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at such expense that we are now preaching austerity here at home, unwilling to face the fact that we have over $2 trillion in infrastructure needs in America which have not been met, unwilling to invest in America and all too willing to invest in wars. We became the policemen of the world and ended up being resented worldwide. We have fueled the fires of reactionary nationalism abroad, which are easily stoked by foreign occupation or invasion. We have helped further fundamentalism and made decisions which placed in positions of power those whose very existence supposedly drove us into conflict in the first place. Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
What passes for our recent history is an acculturated, sleep-inducing lie from which we must wake up. We must awake from the stupor of our self-imposed amnesia or shock; we must shake off the awe which comes from the misuse of power on a global basis. We must always question governments whose legitimacy rests not upon accountability and truth but upon force and deception. A government which assumes that we are neither intelligent enough, nor loyal enough to know the truth about its actions a dozen years ago or a dozen hours ago is not worthy of a free people. We must bend the fear-forged bars which imprison the truth. We must seek the truth. And we must know the truth. For it is the truth that will truly set us free and lead to the wisdom which can rescue us from destruction, the wisdom which can reclaim America. America: The mere utterance of the word should set the pulse pounding with the excitement of discovery, of possibility, of love - not fear.
We must demand that America, our nation, establish a fully empowered Commission of Truth and Reconciliation, so that those responsible for misleading us into annihilating innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere be brought forward to a public accountability in a formal process of fact-finding, of inquiry, of public testimony, of admission, of confession. There is no other way out of the moral cul-de-sac in which reside the monstrous crimes of mass murder, torture, kidnapping and rendition other than atonement: AT ONE MENT. It is in atonement that we will achiFormer Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)eve what Blake called the unity of opposites. It is in reconciliation that the Blakean idea of the contrary nature of God, containing multitudes of humanity, will cause us to understand the fragility of our social compact and the possibility that any of us could be murderer and victim. Without public expiation for the unbridled use of force, the wanton violence we have writ large in the world will replicate, perpetuate and be our own ruin. This is the importance of a formal process of Truth and Reconciliation. We had and have a right to defend ourselves as a nation, but when we go on the offense, the violence that we have visited abroad will inevitably blow back home. The violence we create in the world in turn licenses and desensitizes us to the wanton violence which is exercised in our streets, and unfortunately in our homes. We must understand the causal links. What is outermost presses down upon what is innermost. What is innermost becomes outermost. Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
Once a full process of Truth and Reconciliation helps us to discern the truth of our experience of the past decade, equipped with the truth of our errant descent into errant wars, we must be prepared to forgive those who would be forgiven, and forgive ourselves for having participated with either our assent or our silence. Then we may move forward with the truth as the standard under which we organize a stronger, better America.
We must think often of our nation, reimagine it, re-establish it as the exemplification of our highest ideals. Of those lofty sentiments present at its founding. Of its spiritual origins: Annuit Coeptis, a US motto: "He has favored our undertaking." Of its transcendent purpose presaging humFormer Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)an unity: E Pluribus Unum: Out of many we are one. The paradox of multiplicity in singularity. Let us renew our faith in our nation. Let us unite so that the power of unity will lift up this nation we love. Let us declare our faith in each other, as once we did with that clarion call for the right: We the People! Let us find that place within ourselves where our own capacity to evolve catalyzes the evolving character of America, where through the highest expression of informed citizenship we quicken the highest expression of informed nationhood: America for Americans for the world. Let the truth be our empire, the plowshare our sword, nature our textbook and let us once again celebrate the deeper meaning of what it means to be an American.
Then, reimagining the town hall model, let us consider what America has represented to each of us, on September 10, 2001, the day before 9/11. Let millions of people in tens of thousands of places across our nation meet, rediscover and celebrate again our nation and its purpose and recapture the spirit of America which we know already resides in countless places. That spirit of America that is always ready to be called forward with a sense of wonder and joy, which our children will in time come to understand as our capacity to rise from the ashes of our own suffering and disillusionment, a quality which becomes their civic inheritance.
Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)While we were founded with the idea of striving for perfection, we were not a perfect nation by any means before 9/11, but I remember a greater sense of optimism, of freedom, of security, of control of our destiny. We need to come together now, in the town halls across America to appreciate our common experiences, to share our narratives about the best that is America, about what it is that we love about this country, about our own journeys, our own miracles, about those things in our lives which directly connect us to what we have called the American dream. And when we so share, we will know each other better and love our country even more.
Violence today casts us into a psychological wilderness. There is a path out of the wilderness of violence in which so many of our fellow countrymen and countrywomen are lost. If we are to help them find that path, it would be helpful for us to look again to the origins of our nation and find the map.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously declared the Independence of the 13 colonies, and the achievement of peace was recognized as one of the highest duties of the new organization of free and independent states. Peace at the founding. Yes, that is the paradox of the Revolutionary War, but the destination was peace, articulated and enshrined.
The drafters of the Declaration of Independence appealed to the Supreme Judge of the World, and derived the creative cause of nationhood from "the Laws of Nature" and the entitlements of "Nature's God," celebrating the unity of human thought, natural law and spiritual causation, in declaring: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal , that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." The architects of Independence, "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence," spoke to the activity of a higher power which moves to guide the Nation's fortune and lends its divine spark to infuse principle into the structure of a democratic governance.
The Constitution of the United States of America, in its Preamble, further sets forth the insurance of the cause of peace, in stating, "We the people of the United States, in Order to Form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." We must remember where we have been so that we can chart where we will proceed. It is the sacred duty of the people of the United States to receive the living truths of our founding documents and to think anew to develop institutions that permit the unfolding of the highest moral principles in this Nation and around the world.
Those words from the Constitution are included in the preamble of legislation I wrote in 2001. They form the basis of my understanding of the conceptive power of freedom. The Founders of this country gave America a vision of freedom for the ages and provided people with a document which gave this nation the ability to adapt to an undreamed-of future. What can we give back?
When I first came to Congress I saw how easily we slipped into conflict. I saw how normally placid people could get swept up by war fever. It led me to study war. I learned that during the course of the 20th century more than 100,000,000 people perished in wars. Today, violence is an overarching theme, encompassing personal, group, national and international conflict, extending to the production of nuclear, biological, chemical weapons of mass destruction which have been developed for use on land, air, sea and space. Such conflict is taken as a given of the human condition without questioning whether the structures of thought, word and deed which the people of the United States have inherited are any longer sufficient for the maintenance , growth and survival of the United States and the world.
Personal violence in the United States has great human and financial costs, costing hundreds of billions of dollars annually, not including war-related costs. Child abuse and neglect cost over $100 billion annually.Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
We are in a new millennium and the time has come to review age-old challenges with new thinking, wherein we can conceive of peace as not simply being the absence of violence but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of human awareness, of respect, trust and integrity, a condition that allows us all to tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform the consciousness and conditions which impel or compel violence at a personal, group or national level toward developing a new understanding of and commitment to compassion and love, in order to create a "shining city on a hill,"
the light of which is the light of nations.
It was this thinking, this articulation which I was privileged to bring forth on July 11, 2001, fully two months before 9/11, and to introduce a bill, HR 808, to create a cabinet level Department of Peace, a bill soon to be reintroduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee as the DepartmFormer Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)ent of Peace Building.
Imagine coming from a position of love of our country and for each other, if we moved forward without judgment, to meet the promise of a more perfect union by meeting the challenge of violence in our homes, our streets, our schools, our places of work and worship, meet the challenge of violence in our society through the creation of a new structure in our society which can directly address domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, gun violence, gang violence, violence against gays. This goes much deeper than legislation forbidding such conduct, or creating systems to deal with victims. Those are necessary - but not sufficient. We need to go much deeper if we are to, at last, shed the yoke of violence which we carry through our daily lives.
We know violence is a learned response. So is nonviolence. We must replace a culture of violence with a culture of peace, not through the antithetical use of force, not through endless "thou shalt nots" and not through mere punishment, but through tapping our higher potential to teach principles of peace building and peace sharing at the earliest ages as part of a civic education in a democratic society.
Carl Rogers, the humanist psychologist, has written "the behavior of the human organism may be determined by the external influences to which it has been exposed, but it may also be determined by the creative and integrative insight of the organism itself." We are not victims of the world we see; we become victims of the way we see the world. If we are prepared to confidently call forth a new America, if we have the courage to not simply re-describe America but to reclaim it, we will once again fall in love with the light which so many years ago shone through the darkness of human existence to announce the birth of a new freedom.
Out in the void I can see a soaring sun splitting the darkness. Behold the dawn of a new nation, our beloved America.
This article is very largely a reprise of the 12th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity's Future, presented by Dennis Kucinich on February 8, 2013, in Santa Barbara, California, a transcript of which is available here.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaking at the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
Dennis Kucinich is the former US representative for Ohio's 10th congressional district.
Published on Nov 3, 2012
"The Washington Post recently published a three part series on the plans of the Obama Administration to institutionalize the practice of targeted killing by unmanned drones abroad. According to previous and current Administration officials who were interviewed, the institutionalization and expansion of the drone program means that we have only reached 'the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.' This means that the targeted killing of suspects by the United States is becoming a permanent feature of our counterterrorism strategy.
"Yet the program has thus far been conducted with virtually no oversight from Congress or any other judicial body and absolutely no due process. Congress has even been denied the right to be informed of and view the legal memos which the Administration uses as its basis to justify these killings. Despite increasing calls for transparency and the legal justification from both Members of Congress and a broad range of advocacy organizations, targeted killing is 'so routine that the Obama Administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain much of it.'
"The battlefield has been stretched to include nearly anywhere in the world, making it easier to justify the flouting of international law and the laws of war. But the United States is not at war with Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Such killings are only lawful under a very narrow set of circumstances. We cannot claim to be meeting those narrow circumstances when the number of people killed by such strikes, including innocent civilians, is estimated to exceed 3,000. This number alone demonstrates that the Administration's claims that such strikes occur only under 'imminent threat' is patently false.
"The expansion of the use of surveillance drones here in the United States also raises significant concerns about the safeguarding of privacy and what information may be collected without prior authorization. Any government or local law enforcement agency deploying such drones must ensure that the 4th amendment rights and the right to privacy of U.S. citizens are not being violated by the use of this technology.
"Congress cannot stand idly by as these actions are being taken in the name of the American people. That is why I am hosting a briefing on Friday, November 16, 2012 to discuss the implications of our drones policy here at home, and abroad."