Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, gave a talk to an overflow crowd at the Lobero Theatre on Friday. His talk was the 12th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future, sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Kucinich started with the imagery from the opening of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. One cave man uses a femur bone to kill a competing leader. The bone is tossed in the air and it morphs into the 2001 space station. To show how much has changed in our technology. And yet little has changed in our attitude about violence and power, Kucinich pointed out.
In the real 2001, we had the horror of 9/11 and the loss of nearly 3,000 innocent lives. That terrible loss made it difficult for many Americans to question the validity of their government’s response.
To this day, there has been little in the way of accounting for that response. From the state of emergency and the oddly named Patriot Act that exists to this day in our own country. To the torture and state-sanctioned murder that was called war.
Next month it will be 10 years since the start of our war in Iraq. Trillions of dollar spent. More than 1 million Iraqis killed. Thousands of U.S. troops killed and far more suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, wounds and suicides. Shock and awe indeed. A 9/11 a day visited on Iraq for the first year. A country that never attacked the United States.
We borrowed money from China to finance the war while they invested in their infrastructure.
Kucinich offered two steps to move forward. First: A Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As happened in South Africa when the apartheid government finally fell. The primary goal being truth. We do not know the truth about so much that has happened in our recent history.
Former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and all of the other top officials need to be brought to testify about what really happened. Truth must be the primary goal.
Kucinich offered a second major initiative: Creating a Department of Peace in the government. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on violence. We must spend at least a small fraction of this directly toward understanding and promoting the conditions that lead to real peace.
In July 2011, he offered a bill, HR 808, to do just that. Kucinich explained that it is our job as citizens to move this forward and demand that it be made a reality.