War mentality has saturated Washington and arms merchants want to benefit, says Congressman (d) Dennis Kucinich. He opposes sanctions against Tehran that could lead to war, and is sure the US should forget about trying to conquer other countries.
DK: There is an overwhelming sentiment in the Congress to get tougher with Iran. But what is the basis of it? We are being told we should not have any contact with them, we are being told that we should not be negotiating with them, we are being told that we should get ready for war. All that is wrong. What we need to do is to have direct negotiations. We need to be talking with Iran and we need to stop this vainglorious notion that somehow we can settle our differences with Iran through war.
RT: How many colleagues of yours share your views?
DK: 10-11 out of 435 members. But the American people are not prepared for this country to get into another war. If Mr. Netanyahu wants to pay for war – that's up to him.I would advise against it because I think Israel's security would be undermined by an attack on Iran. But the Unites States should not, cannot and must not be dragged into a war by any other country which calls itself our friend. If you are friends with someone, your friends don't get you into trouble – your friends help you to stay out of trouble. And unfortunately we have some friends that want to get us into trouble.
RT: Your colleagues say: why does the US have to take the first step? Let Iran do it first. What do you think about that – I mean Iranians are not sweet-talkers either.
DK: The United States is taking a lead on this. So, we should take the lead on diplomacy. If Congress sends a message to the world that says "Look, we don't have to talk to you, we don't want to negotiate with you, we will wage war on you if you don't do our bidding. That's not how you treat people, that's not the way that you solve things, that's not the way that you create a safer world. We must use diplomacy.
RT: Diplomacy is making concessions. Why do you think some of your most hawkish colleagues hate the thought of it?
DK: We have to think differently, we have to believe that peace is possible. What we have is the type of thinking coming out of Washington that says "war is inevitable". When you say "war is inevitable" you actually create a war of self-fulfilling prophecy. We have to stop thinking in terms of war.
RT: Even if Iran makes all the concessions, it seems the sanctions will still be there. Do American policy-makers like being constantly on the edge of war?
DK: Sanctions are another form of war, sanctions are just a step away from shooting. The mindset that exists here in Washington is generally the mindset of brinkmanship going right to the edge. The problem with that is that there's always room for miscalculation especially when part of the prevailing mentality says "you can't even have contact with the other side". Imagine for a moment, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis if Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy were not speaking to each other. It was the fact that they communicated that caused the crisis eventually to be resolved.
RT: Do you think it's eventually all about the US wanting to overthrow the Iranian leadership one way or another?
DK: The people of Iran have never let a foreign power determine through invasion what the outcome is going to be. The people of Iran are very concerned when their nuclear scientists are assassinated. How does that happen? Who is doing that? We should forget about trying to conquer other countries: that's an old model, that'd an old thinking from hundreds of years ago. We tried that in Iraq – it did not work. We have tried that in Afghanistan – it did not work. We keep trying that in Libya – it does not work. Their people want us to try that in Syria – it will not work. And it is not going to work in Iran, and the sooner that we understand it – the better it is, because we'll look at what our options are.
RT: 70% of Americans say 'Yes' to diplomacy with Iran. Do you think the lawmakers hear their voices?
DK: Every member of Congress has improved hearing when we get close to an election. So if we are far away from an election, it sometimes becomes more difficult to hear. And there are other voices: voices of other interest groups, voices of arms merchants, of war contractors, of people who just make money out of a war. They don't care where the war is and who it hurts – they just want money. Members of Congress have to be wise when they are being plagued by interest groups who may want them to vote in one way, but it would be a way that would be adverse to the interests of the American people.
RT: How happy are people in Congress when it comes to war?
DK: I've seen this phenomenon: most Congressmen are relatively placid, peace-loving people. But something happens when we are on the threshold of conflict. I saw this happen when the US government made a decision to bomb Serbia. These people were placid and reasonable, but suddenly this war fever moves in and war fever has a way of inflecting peoples' thinking – it's like a virus.
RT: What's the general mood in Congress with regard to Syria?
DK: It's mixed. There are members of Congress and Senate who have been calling for intervention. But intervention on whose behalf? The more you look at it, there are so many different groups playing in Syria right now. US intervention could bring about a triumph for Islamic fundamentalism. Just because you intervene, doesn't mean you are going to get the results that you want. Actually that's an ironclad rule, that intervention will get the opposite results to what you want!