paying the price20 Apr 2004
Today, Marianne Williamson has an article on commondreams.org that mentions at the beginning:
I remember before the war started in Iraq, watching Dennis Kucinich debate the Bush administration’s Richard Perle on television. Kucinich said that if we went to war there would be hand-to-hand combat in Baghdad, to which Perle patronizingly responded that Kucinich clearly didn’t know what he was talking about.
Curious about the exact exchange, I set out to find the exact transcript. Here it is, from the Donahue show, July 30, 2002:
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D) OHIO: We have to ask if we’re going to go into Iraq, we need some real serious talk here and that is, are we prepared to pay the price? Are we prepared to put our men and women in jeopardy? Are we prepared to fight door-to-door in Baghdad where there’s about five million people, about the population of Dallas-Fort Worth? Are we prepared for an urban warfare? Do you know what? I’m on a committee where we saw two weeks ago the United States can not locate 1.2 million biological and chemical weapons suits. That’s how disorganized they are.
Now, we have a strong military. Do we have the ability to go anywhere in the world? Sure. But what price? Are we ready to pay any price to get Hussein and cause the deaths of countless Americans and a lot of innocent Iraqi civilians, who don’t like Saddam Hussein, but who are just trying to survive on their own? I mean you know, can we go in and do it?
Well, you know, you can argue that, but should we? I think that to go in is a major mistake, that we’re going to be creating more of a problem than we have, and that even if we think we can get Hussein, that’s not going to end terrorism in the world. What will end terrorism in the world is a new approach towards diplomacy, which doesn’t rely on nuclear weapons and relies on people talking to one another and trying to use diplomacy, the science of human relations, what FDR called it, as a way to bring an end to the carnage that is awaiting the world.
RICHARD PERLE, DEFENSE POLICY BOARD: Forgive me, but a dialogue with Saddam Hussein is not going to end…
KUCINICH: I’m not talking dialogue with him.
PERLE: Well, but the problem is not the people you have dialogues with. The problem is the people you can’t talk to, and Saddam Hussein is one of them. Look, you built nine assumptions into your description of what we would be doing if we went after Saddam Hussein. I don’t agree with any of them.
You posited house-to-house fighting in Baghdad and suggested five million people would somehow be fighting us in Baghdad. I think that’s nonsense. I think the number of people in Baghdad who are loyal to Saddam Hussein is very small, indeed. And no one is suggesting that we go house to house in Baghdad.
You’re suggesting that countless, to use your term, Americans will die in a campaign against Saddam. While we can never guarantee that there won’t be casualties and fatalities, the notion that there will be large numbers of Americans killed, to say nothing of countless, I think is simply wrong.
The U.S. Defense Department has raised its official casualty rate for the month of April to 106, making April the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq. Defense Department numbers show the U.S. death toll at 709 since the invasion in March 2003. Results from a Washington Post-ABC News poll show that 65 percent of Americans view the number of casualties as “unacceptable.” A separate poll published by University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 51 percent of Americans believe going to war in Iraq was not worth it.