by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
Washington, Jan 31, 2011
Past Positions Make Kucinich a Potential Liaison
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a long time advocate for peace whose conciliatory positions and outreach to the Middle East has sometimes put him at odds with Republican and Democratic administrations alike, today sent letters to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for a new approach to the United States’ relationship with the Arab and Muslim world. In his letters Kucinich identified the situation in Egypt as a catalyst for a transformation in the relationship and volunteered to support genuine efforts to promote diplomatic initiatives leading to peaceful dialogue.
A signed copy of the letter is available here.
January 31, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500 – 0001
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C. Street, Northwest
Washington, 20502 – 0099
Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton:
Today, Egyptians courageously participate in the seventh day of protests calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30 year rule. Human Rights Watch has confirmed over 30 deaths thus far, with reports of hundreds injured due to the use of live ammunition and tear gas used by Mubarak’s police forces. We do not have any control over the events that are transpiring across the region, but we do have the ability to seize the moment to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world and to reimagine and reconstruct our foreign policy in the region.
Since 1979, the United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of $2 billion in military and economic aid. Nevertheless, the needs of the Egyptian people remain largely unaddressed. The Egyptian people have been left with widespread poverty, high unemployment and little hope. Our long standing policy of providing aid to Mr. Mubarak’s government has made the United States an implicit supporter of an oppressive regime that quells the very democratic and human rights we claim to support – freedom of association and freedom of speech.
The protests spreading across the region have demonstrated that our support of antidemocratic and oppressive regimes in the Arab and Muslim world brings less stability, not more, to the region. Stability in the region can be facilitated if the growing unrest and demands for democratic governance catalyze a fundamental shift in the way that the West views Muslims and the Arab world. Doing so can shift the way that the Arab and Muslim world views us.
Tensions and mistrust post-9/11 have increased, both domestically and internationally. The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone strikes in Pakistan, our attempts to destabilize the Iranian government, our meddling in the region’s domestic affairs, our support of oppressive regimes such as the one in Egypt, and our unsympathetic position in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have created enormous hostility toward the U.S. Such policies have undermined our credibility and moral standing in the world.
We can and must continue to reiterate our determination to protect our ally Israel, while at the same time, providing genuine support for the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. Our renewed efforts in this regard will go a great distance to achieve good will and help strengthen Israel’s security through a clear and unambiguous recognition of the rights of Palestinians.
It is time for us to reimagine and reconstruct our policies and relationships in the region to ones that allow for basic human rights to be met and democratic movements to flourish. Our support of such movements must be genuine.
Throughout my years in Congress, I have continually been involved in outreach to Arab and Muslim communities, nationally and internationally. I have met with leaders of diverse backgrounds and groups throughout the Arab and Muslim world with the goal of furthering dialogue and peace. I am happy to provide any assistance to you in furthering that goal.
In the immediate term, we must send a clear message that any violence used against the Egyptian people will not be tolerated. We must work with all parties to limit any violence and reprisals against the people and facilitate a new way forward in our relationship with the Egyptian people and with the Arab and Muslim world at large.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress