Congressman Dennis Kucinich says in an interview with The Black Star News that he’s determined to support the African Union’s peace proposal to end the Libya war and even willing to travel to the war-torn country to meet both Muammar al-Quathafi and the rebels seeking his ouster.
At the same time, the Congressman denounced NATO’s bombing campaigns and said he’s contacted the International Criminal Court about investigating its commanders on possible war crimes charges.
“You can’t just talk the talk,” when it comes to seeking peace, Rep. Kucinich (D-Ohio) said, in an exclusive wide-ranging interview with this newspaper. “You have to be willing to walk the walk.”
Kucinich urged President Barack Obama to “seize the opportunity” for a peaceful resolution to the Libya war and stalemate even as challenges mount from Congress to the U.S. role.
The longer the U.S. continues supporting attacks on Libya through NATO, the more weaponry flows into north Africa, destabilizing the entire region. He says Africa must be allowed to take the lead in ending the conflict. Western involvement in Africa is always clouded by economic motives, he said.
Rep. Kucinich said he had built on the African Union (AU) plan, being promoted by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, in drafting his own proposal. He said his own peace plan calls for reparations for Libyans killed and injured “on both sides.”
He said Libyans needed reconciliation and to come up with a government that reflected the aspirations of the people. He said he has been in touch with people in contact with both sides in the conflict. Kucinich said the bombing campaign was preventing Libyans from reconciling.
Rep. Kucinich said he’s written a letter to ICC to ask that NATO’s commanders be investigated for possible war crimes in Libya. “If civilians were killed NATO needs to be held accountable,” Rep. Kucinich said, in the telephone interview today. “If you kill people, there has to be consequences.” He said such an investigation would not involve all NATO member countries but only the commanders now in charge of the attacks on Libya.
Kucinich, together with nine other lawmakers, yesterday filed a lawsuit against President Obama seeking to have a U.S. District Court Judge declare the U.S. involvement in the Libya war unconstitutional. He says President Obama is in violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution which holds that only Congress can declare war and involve “our young men and women in harms way.”
Kucinich also dismissed President Obama’s defense that his Administration is not in violation of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 because the U.S. supportive role in the current war in Libya doesn’t fit within the definition of “hostilities” as envisioned in the resolution.
“Dropping bombs on Tripoli — if any country had 2,000 flights over the united states, which is how many sorties the US flew above Libya,” Kuchinic said, referring to the initial attacks involving U.S, pilots before the handover to NATO, “bombing us, we would say that’s an act of war.”
He added, referring to Rep. John Boehner, “As the Speaker said, it doesn’t pass the straight face test. This attempt at verbal gymnastic over such serious issues is very disappointing coming from an Administration which is run by constitutional scholars.”
Asked about the prospects of the lawsuit he filed together with nine other members of Congress –seven Republicans– given that the Courts typically sided with the White House on such matters, kucinich sounded confident. “If we can get standing and the court gives us the ability to go forward with this, I think we have an excellent chance to win on the merits,” he said, adding trhat the constitution made it absolutely clear that only the U.S. Congress had the authority to declare war.
“It has nothing to do with the personalities; it has everything to do with the Constitution,” he noted, adding that if the court agreed that “we raised the question of separation of powers and the court will rule in our favor and reinstate the constitution.”
Kucinich denounced NATO’s and the U.S.’s position that the attacks in Libya was about protecting civilians. “Of course it became about regime change and we know there have been several efforts on Quathafi’s life.”
He added: “We need to ask ourselves what kind of nation are we? Are we a nation who believes in the rule of law? We think we can just assassinate the head of another government because it’s our privilege?”
Kucinich said NATO had exceeded it’s authority, not only in Libya but in Afghanistan as well. The organization had become a “global cop” and it was time to ask whether the organization has outlived its usefulness.