Out of Iraq and Back to the American City
By Dennis J. Kucinich, Democratic Candidate for President of the United States
10th Annual Wall Street Project Conference
Sheraton New York & Towers, Monday, January 8, 2007
We are losing our nation to a philosophy of war and destruction. It is time for policies of peace and construction. It
is time for the philosophy of peace, nonviolence and economic justice. This was the philosophy of Dr. King, Gandhi,
Jesus, Fredrick Douglas, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Fannie Lou Hamer, Sojourner Truth, Cesar Chavez, and Jesse
We are all united with the philosophy which birthed the New Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society, the dreams of
social and economic justice which could be called forth by those who were ready to stand up, to speak out, to march, to
demand, to testify about the good news:
The world is interconnected. The world is interdependent. We are not just our brother and sisters keeper, on a deeper
spiritual level we are our brothers and sisters. This is the meaning of the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would
have them do unto you. This is the meaning of Love Thy neighbor as thy self. This is why policies of unilateralism,
first strike, and preemption are dead ends. This is why nuclear proliferation is a threat to every person on the planet.
This is why the very idea that war should be an instrument of policy needs to be challenge. War is not inevitable. Peace
is inevitable if we are prepared to work for it.
Dr. King understood this. In his speech in New York City nearly forty years ago, he created a synthesis of peace and
civil rights. “Somehow this madness must cease,” Dr. King told those assembled at Riverside Church about the
annihilation of the Vietnamese people and their nation. “I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of
Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are destroyed, whose culture is being subverted….
I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world, as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who
loves America, to the leaders of our nation: The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be
That is why tomorrow I will present Congress with a plan to get out of Iraq. We must end the occupation, close the
bases, and use the money that is there now to bring the troops home while we prepare Iraq for an international security
force. I led the effort in the House of Representatives challenging the Bush Administration’s march toward war in Iraq.
I organized 125 Democrats to vote against the war.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But there are plenty of weapons of mass destruction here in the
United States which need to be removed. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction, homelessness is a weapon of mass
destruction, joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction, poor health care is a weapon of mass destruction, theft of
pensions, a weapon of mass destruction, hopelessness is a weapon of mass destruction.
Let’s deal with the WMD’s in our cities. It is time to get out of Iraq, which did not have weapons of mass destruction
and into our American cities, which are loaded with weapons of mass destruction.
This then is a call for a politics of unity where human unity becomes an imperative. This is a call for a politics of
economic justice, where wealth creation is available to everyone, where the government becomes an engine to create
wealth for all, where it functions to equitably redistribute the wealth.
We know the challenges. The war in Iraq is the product of the same type of thinking which underlies racism. Us vs.
them. The minute there is a THEY or a THEM it creates separation. Separation is the basis for discrimination. Separation
is the basis for subjugation. Separation is the basis for insularity. Separation is the basis for conflict. Separation
is the basis for war. Separation is the basis for the destruction of our environment. Separation is the basis for the
destruction of the planet.
We are at a moment where our survival instinct causes us to declare the imperative of human unity. A unity of states is
a superficial unity if it does not embrace policies which promote human unity, human equality, human striving, the
practical aspirations of people.
There has been a massive redistribution of wealth in our society. Government has been turned into an engine to
redistribute the wealth upwards. Our whole monetary system is based on debt creation for the masses and wealth creation
for the few. War has become an engine of wealth for military contractors. Health care has become an engine of wealth for
the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies. The tax system is used to accelerate wealth to the top. Our
banking and credit systems accelerate wealth to the top. Our electric utilities, our gas companies, our oil companies
accelerate wealth to the top. Our energy systems accelerate wealth to the top. Our transportation systems accelerate
wealth to the top. Our information systems accelerate wealth to the top.
The concentration of wealth in our society has jeopardized our democracy. It has created a two class society. And in
doing so jeopardizes the very institutions of wealth creation. Franklin Roosevelt recognized this in the creation of the
New Deal which saved not only economic opportunities for the masses, but also saved capitalism itself.
There is an unlimited amount of wealth that can be created in our society. We need to teach our children wealth
creation. But we need to challenge the fundamental assumptions that guide our society, assumptions such as “a certain
amount of unemployment is necessary to the functioning of the economy.” or “let the market decide access to health
care.” We need to perfect our union. This then is the perfect opportunity for us to perfect our union, to perfect the
purpose of government, to perfect our mutual pledge to each other. It is time for a declaration of human economic rights
of citizens of an urban society, and tie that declaration to legislation and use that legislation to create wealth and
harmony and peace.
Langston Hughes wrote: “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” We know that experience, we also know that we can
teach people to create wealth if we can help them find a way to get access to wealth.
I am a product of the city. My parents never owned a home. I grew up in 21 different places by the time I was 17,
including a few cars. I’ve learned about opportunities. I’ve learned that if you believe it you can conceive it. I’ve
learned about pulling oneself up by bootstraps. I’ve also seen the cynicism which comes when you tell people to pull
themselves up by their bootstraps and then you steal their shoes. I’ve seen people dreaming the dreams and stuck singing
We are not going back to the days of Sixteen Tons.
So let it be said here:
We have a right to a job.
We have a right to a living wage.
We have a right to an education.
We have a right to health care.
We have a right to decent and affordable housing.
We have a right to a secure pension.
We have a right to air fit to breathe.
We have a right to water fit to drink.
We have a right to be free of the paralyzing fear of crime.
We have a right to be free of a government tapping our phones, opening our mail, checking out our library reading lists,
snooping into our medical records, and our credit records.
We have a right to fair, open and verifiable elections where every vote counts and every vote is counted.
We have a right to peace.
We have a right to prosperity. This means ending the war in Iraq.
This means bringing the money home to our cities.
This means a full employment economy.
This means good paying jobs.
This means a living wage.
This means a federal infrastructure bill to put millions to work rebuilding our schools, our bridges, our libraries,
our universities our hospitals, our city halls, our recreation centers, our sidewalks, our street lights, our parks, our
water systems, our sewer systems, our neighborhoods.
This means a more perfect union.
This means every child goes to a prekindergarten and every young person goes to a junior or a four year college.
This means universal health care.
This means a new housing initiative where everyone has access to affordable housing.
This means full protection of social security and no privatization.
This means protection of private pension funds.
This means giving workers access to the power of their pension funds to invest in job creation.
This means cleaner energy, greener energy.
This means programs for safer neighborhoods..
This means initiatives which bring people out of prison and into the mainstream of society.
This means a Department of Peace and nonviolence.
I don’t just talk the talk. I walk the walk.
The universal health care bill is called Conyers-Kucinich. It calls for a universal single payer not for profit health
care system to lift everyone up. To give everyone access to health care.
I wrote the federal infrastructure bill.
I wrote the universal pre-kindergarten bill.
I wrote the bill for a Department of Peace and non-violence to make Dr. King’s dream of non- violence a reality. That
bill will deal with the realities of violence in our society and take a path towards more peaceful relationships. It
will help families who suffer from domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse; it will meet the challenge of violence
in the schools, racial violence, violence against gays, police community conflicts, using the principles for which Dr.,
King lived. And it will create a context where a peaceful America can help to create a peaceful world. Imagine. Peace as
an organizing principle. Prosperity as an organizing principle.
And when I am elected President of the United States, in my first day in office I will be ready to push. I will send to
the congress a bill for universal single payer not for profit health care.
I will send to the congress legislation for creating millions of jobs through rebuilding America’s infrastructure, I
will send congress legislation to create a summer jobs program.
I will send congress legislation to create affordable housing.
I will send congress a bill to establish a cabinet level Department of Peace and Non Violence.
I can do this because I have already written many of these bills. They are ready and so am I. I will move to restore
the Constitution, restore habeas corpus, and repeal the Patriot Act. If you are ready, I am ready for a new America. And
I am ready to unite this country in the cause of peace, justice and prosperity.
Our unity extends to all people everywhere. The Bible tells us to make peace with our brother because we are all one. We
are told whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for the Lord, because we are all one in spirit.
We are told that we have an obligation to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked not simply because we
are our brother and sisters keeper, not just because there but for the grace of God go I, but because wherever there is
a hungry person, there I am. Wherever there is someone who is homeless, there I am.
Wherever someone is walking the streets looking for a job. That person is my brother and that person is me. Wherever a
child goes to bed hungry, I am there. We connect with each other in our profound, human experience. We connect with each
other through the imperative to love one another. We bind to each other in all of our hopes, in all of our dreams, and
in all of our sufferings. The awareness which bids us to pursue a more perfect union make us aware of the perfectibility
of our social systems, our economic systems and our own lives. We are meant for higher things. We are meant for better
things. We are meant for peace, for prosperity, for enlightenment, for health, for love, for a more perfect union with
ourselves, with each other, with our nation and with the world. Human unity is the great path that we all can walk upon.
The world is interconnected. The world is interdependent. I know that we are on the threshold of greatness because the
people are great and we just need to call forth that awareness, call forth that ability, give people the resources, show
people the money, show them their power, show them their beauty, show them that we can all be more than we are, better
than we are. It’s about reaching up and reaching out. It’s about Push. It’s about the Rainbow Coalition. It’s about
Human Unity. It’s about a new America. It’s about a new world. Let us begin.