Saturday, March 2, 2024

Forward, into the breach

By Dennis J. Kucinich - March 02, 2024 at 10:26AM

Leaders make choices in moments of crises which can either lead to enhanced security or catastrophe for their nations, with the lives of innocents often hanging in the balance.

Immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I went to the floor of the House of Representatives and warned against the U.S. lashing out blindly in response to the devastating attacks which killed over 3,000 persons.  

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as recounted by Bob Woodward in his book, Plan of Attack, brought forward the idea that 9/11 should be used to further a broader agenda, aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein, and laying the groundwork for the Project for A New American Century, an ideological architecture for American world dominance, with the help of the military. 

A full-scale attack on Iraq and the Iraqi people commenced.  Rumsfeld, who had a long career in government, including four terms in the U.S. House from Illinois, was instrumental in convincing President Bush to launch a “shock and awe attack” on Iraq, and upon the Iraqi people, which ultimately resulted in 1,000,000 deaths that would have otherwise not occurred.

Our leaders chose to use the most advanced weaponry against a nation that had almost zero ability to defend itself, spending less than one percent of what the U.S. spent for military purposes. 

Keep in mind that all the while the attack was being planned, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.  It had nothing to do with Al Queda’s role in 9/11. It had neither the intention and certainly not the capability to attack the United States.  It did not have the still undetected “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” which became the pretext for a broad attack, licensed by the fear-mongering, driven by an unquestioning media establishment.

The Iraq War wasn’t about 9/11. It was about empire. It was about controlling resources, ie, oil.  It was about the profit of war contractors.  The Watson Institute at Brown University has estimated the regime-change wars, post 9/11, cost over $8 trillion, much of it simply added to the U.S. national debt.  It cost the lives of nearly 5,000 American soldiers.  Iraqis paid dearly.  The nation, its cultural institutions, its infrastructure, its families, destroyed, based on the choices made by leaders who used 9/11 to advance a political agenda.

The choices that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu made after the October 7th attacks, which have been likened an Israeli 9/11, also mirror the choices made by the US government after September 11, 2001. 

Hamas attacked Israel, murdering 1,200 Israelis and taking hundreds of hostages. Of course, Israel had a right to respond.  But like the U.S. after 9/11, instead of calibrating the response and not seeking to ignite a far-reaching war, the decision was made to collectively punish all Palestinians in Gaza, fully 2.2 million people.

The Netanyahu Likud party, conjoined in a critical alliance with Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit has, under the pretext of “wiping out Hamas,”  used the moment to ethnically cleanse Gaza; to engage in wide-spread bombing assuring mass casualties and resulting in the killing of over 30,000 Palestinians. Over 70,000 Palestinians have been injured and entire families vaporized.  Dozens of journalists have been killed, the ultimate censorship. 

Hospitals, universities,  schools, mosques, churches, water systems, sewer systems, markets, housing, roads, cemeteries and museums have reduced to rubble with the clear intent of making Gaza uninhabitable.  The ethnic cleansing will force survivors out of Gaza and the long-held conssequential dream of establishing Greater Israel, from the river to the sea and north through Lebanon to the Litani River will come to fruition.

The United States used 9/11 to further a hidden agenda with catastrophic results for Iraq and also for the U.S.  Our nation did not just lose blood and treasure, we lost whatever moral high ground we once held.

Netanyahu is falling into the same self-constructed trap. The Netanyahu government is advancing a thinly-disguised agenda in Gaza and the West Bank. While it may have popular support for the moment, it appears to be blind to the consequences of igniting a wider war in the Middle East and how the images coming from Gaza and the West Bank are isolating it from the rest of the world, with the exception of Europe.

There are supporters of Israel, at home and abroad,  who recognize that the government’s current policies are suicidal – possibly in the near term and certainly over the long term.

How could alienating 400 million Arabs, 1.8 billion Muslims and the entire global South advance Israel’s security interests? 

How could the murder and injury of  tens of thousands of Palestinians, as well as the destruction of an entire society not create even more radical groups than Hamas?

The U.S.’ war against Iraq was a war of choice just as the war against Gaza is the choice of Israel. 

The same kind of thinking which attempts to rationalize and justify collective punishment, and reject all principles of the laws of G-d and man, and which rejects international law and  humanitarian law is at work in the designs of leaders of both the U.S. and Israel.

During my 16 years in the United States Congress, I witnessed the unfolding of fabricated narratives which led the US into war and also in support of wars in other countries. 

I was a leader in opposing the wars in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Libya. I worked to avoid wars against Iran and Syria, consistently speaking out on behalf of the rights of Palestinian, while at the same time supporting Israel’s right to survive and thrive.   

I have stood for peace. I have travelled throughout the world in an attempt to stop or head off conflicts, meeting not only with leaders of nations, but also with their opposition, to understand their heart-felt concerns.  The only side I  take is the side of humanity.

Leadership needs to be able to speak to everyone in order to create openings for peace and understanding.  Leadership needs to be patient, to listen to all sides in conflicts, to engage in diplomacy and to find paths to peace.

Instead, at this critical moment when the peace of the entire world is at risk and the live

s of millions hang in the balance in Gaza, the U.S. leadership is preparing to add fuel and funding to the fire instead of issuing a bracing caution to our ally.

It is time for leadership to step forward, pull the emergency brake and declare a durable cease-fire, negotiate a return of hostages, and an end, at last, to the genocide.

Reprinted with permission from The Kucinich Report.
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