Little did I know, as Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh) and I were driving through the streets of a Cleveland, Ohio, another American city that looks like it is preparing for the onslaught of a very cold winter on that gray morning, that he would be presenting me with a clear, reasonable, and obvious plan for bringing American troops out what is rapidly becoming total anarchy in Iraq.
The previous evening, Dennis and I, both spoke at the US Labor Against the War conference in Cleveland. During his impassioned speech (not too many people know that Dennis is an inspired orator, and each time I hear him speak, I feel like searching for the nearest baptismal font or river to be baptized for something, anything), Dennis hinted at what would be just the thing to give our troops a one way ticket home from the quicksands of Iraq.
Dennis gets the fact that Nov. 7th was a peaceful overthrow of war-time politics as usual. He realizes that America did not turn out in flocks to vote for the Democrats, because the Democrats have no clear, and yes, even, very confused platforms and polices, but Americans voted for a new direction in this country, especially a direction that leads us out of Iraq. Dennis gets it, but I am not sure too many more of our elected officials understand this concept. We voted against BushCo and their penchant for torture, murder, pandemonium, and anti-democracy posturing all over the world.
As I sat eating a simple breakfast, in a very, not surprisingly modest home of one of the leading proponents of true peace that we have in our world today, and while the energetic and enthusiastic Congressman had a hard time standing, or sitting still, we had a meeting on a very exhilarating strategy and prospect that could have US troops out of Iraq by the end of June.
Many groups and individuals in the Peace Movement have been endorsing and recommending Rep. Jim McGovern's (D-Ma) bill, HR4232, which stops funding for the war. It's a good bill and we agree that stopping funding is the quickest way to end the war. HR4232 would stop funding that already exists and provide only for a swift and safe withdrawal from Iraq and to train Iraqi forces. Congressman Kucinich is a co-sponsor of that bill, but he has little confidence in this bill getting on to the House floor for a vote.
Dennis' proposal is so thrilling, though, because of the fact that it involves no special bills---no committee hearings---no behind the scenes politicking, it will be driven and accomplished by the grass roots peace movement which will give the idea special credibility and deal a further blow to an already crippled Bush administration: in the spring, Congress will be voting on a new appropriation's bill, for the war, which will be approximately 130 billion more dollars! We must act now to organize to pressure Congress to not give the seemingly out of control BushCo any more money to fund what is only bedlam. If Congress votes no on the next appropriation's bill, the funding will end by June 2007 (which is also when al-Malicki says the Iraqis will be ready to take over security of their country). However, if Congress approves the funding it gives the insaniacs money to prosecute the war until the projected end of the Bush regime in January, 2009. He must not be allowed to walk away from another debacle that he has caused. He must be made to face the morass his incompetence, carelessness and callousnees has created in Iraq and the pain and suffering that his policies have inflicted in both countries!
In 1999, Congressman Kucinich and 25 other Congressional Reps sued Bill Clinton in Campbell v. Clinton to stop the violence in Serbia because Congress had never authorized that intervention either. The Supreme Court ruled that Congress gives very explicit approval for war if they give the President money to wage that war. This seems like a very simple concept to me. If I had a child who was addicted to drugs and on one hand I told him/her that I was opposed to them using the drugs, because drug use is harmful, destructive, dangerous and bad for one; but continued to give my child money to support his/her habit, then my words would me empty and meaningless. It is time to call our elected officials out and say: If you give George money for war, no matter what your lips say, your actions speak resoundingly and effectively louder than your meaningless words!
Dennis' proposal is not just another liberal's whining without a solution to the problem. Stop the funding; replace US troops with UN peacekeepers (it's what the Iraqi people want, too); take private contractors out of the country, give the Iraqi people back their jobs and give them reparations for the obliteration of their country; and make our government conform to our own law and international law regarding pre-emptive war.
As I sat in court in New York City yesterday listening to the "People's" "case" against me and my co-defendants actions on March 6th when we were arrested in front of the US mission to the UN, 10 of our troops were slaughtered in Iraq by BushCo and Congress. As we were having our time wasted and the tax-payer's money of the people of the State of New York wasted, 10 more mothers were collapsing in a pile of grief, shock, and agony while our government is staying an evidently wrong course in Iraq. We don't even know how many Iraqis were killed yesterday for the sins of BushCo and the complicity of Congress.
Gold Star Families for Peace, Code Pink, World Can't Wait, and the After Downing Street Coalition will be in Congress as the new Congress returns on January 3rd and 4th to remind the new and old members that funding war gives approval for war and that we are setting the table when it comes to the agenda for the 110th Congress. But even more important than these days to Walk for Change, we need to bring a massive presence to DC in the spring to enforce OUR words with action!
Long gone are the days when we allow our employees to tell us what they are going to do. We write the job description; we hold the cards; we are the bosses and we want our troop's home and we want BushCo to be held accountable.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.