by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
Washington, May 19, 2011
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today issued the following response to President Obama’s speech at the State Department regarding the so-called Arab Spring:
“We all want to be supportive of our President as he attempts to broaden America’s positive role in the Middle East and North Africa. But it is important to critically analyze what the President does, not what he says, when it comes to U.S. policy abroad. When the President says ‘[i]t will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy,’ we must look more carefully at how this policy has been implemented as well as the implications of the actions that have already been taken.
“President Obama violated the Constitution by pursuing war against Libya without a Constitutionally-required authorization for the use of military force or declaration of war from Congress. His actions, and now his policy recitations, set the stage for more interventions, presumably in Syria and Iran. His recounting of the reasons for U.S. intervention in Libya is at odds with the facts. There was no clear evidence of an impending massacre in Libya. There was menacing rhetoric and a violent government put-down of an armed insurrection which may have been joined by some with legitimate non-violent aspirations. No one can justify the actions of any parties to this conflict. In any case, discretion requires leaders to move with the utmost care in developing military responses to rhetoric and similar care to intervention in a civil war.
“The UN mandate to protect civilians was exceeded almost immediately and used as a pretext for regime change. The U.S. and NATO are one in Libya. Our nation, through NATO, has taken sides in a civil war which is spreading more violence throughout Libya and putting more civilians’ at risk. The Interim Council of the rebels moved quickly to a $100 million oil marketing agreement with Qatar, unmasking a potential reason for intervention: control over Libya’s vast oil fields which can yield over $300 million in oil daily. The military intervention in a civil war against the backdrop of a struggle for oil casts a shadow of doubt upon lofty rhetoric about positive change, peace and stability. That the U.S. has not intervened militarily in Bahrain and Yemen demonstrates that violent intervention carries high risks and political resolution of conflict is desirable. We must be prepared to seek political resolution of conflicts through statecraft not through military force.
“NATO’s expansion as ‘globocop’ is hardly about peace and stability. It has people in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the streets loudly protesting NATO’s onslaught against innocent civilians.
“We have an obligation to work together to make America safe, but it is important to note that our intervention in Iraq was based on lies, that ‘the end of combat operations’ in Iraq is not the end of American occupation, and the war in Afghanistan could drag on for another decade. These wars, along with the conflicts over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya will continue to cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars and add trillions to the deficit, diverting resources from pressing domestic needs in health care, education, job creation and retirement security.
“The President wants to ‘advance economic development for nations that transition to democracy.’ It would be good to advance economic development in the United States, since there are over 14 million Americans are out of work. Such a high level of unemployment degrades our own democracy.”