Good morning. I am Chet Guinn representing the Central Committee of STAR*PAC, The Stop The Arms Race Political Action Committee.
STAR*PAC is a statewide grassroots peace organization in Iowa with members and satellite centers in other states as well. STAR*PAC was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to political action against the Weapons Race.
STAR*PAC works to educate Iowans and others on peace issues, influence legislation in Congress and actively support candidates who are dedicated to peace. In past elections, STAR*PAC has supported peace candidates through direct endorsements, candidate forums on peace issues, sponsorship of speaking tours featuring nationally known military experts and peace advocates, media campaigns, direct contributions and get out the vote efforts. We welcome volunteers, donors and members who want to keep abreast of peace issues in our state and nation. You can contact STAR*PAC at our Des Moines office by calling 515-282-5111.
Our mission in 2003 and working towards the 2004 Presidential election is to constantly raise war and peace issues in the context of the Iowa presidential caucuses. This includes lifting the issues directly with the presidential candidates who so often are in Iowa.
The Central Committee of STAR*PAC met Sunday to vote on an endorsement and considered, among other things, the stated campaign platforms, speeches, published statements and responses to a STAR*PAC candidate questionnaire. The Committee judged that the statements and commitments of Dennis Kucinich emphatically set this candidate apart from the field and most closely represent the views and aspirations of STAR*PAC's mission.
I am here today to present enthusiastically and wholeheartedly STAR*PAC's endorsement of Dennis Kucinich for President of the United States in 2004. Dennis Kucinich's campaign commitments constitute a significant alignment of purpose with the goals and mission of STAR*PAC.
But more importantly, the Kucinich message is one of hope in a nation that has been sorely devoid of hope... and vision in a nation whose leadership team has been increasingly reactionary and operating from a place of fear.
Dennis Kucinich is a visionary, but not an idle dreamer. He sets out practical and reasoned ways to achieve peace. He demonstrates vision and holds aloft a glimpse of what a renewed commitment to peace could mean for our nation's people, our economy, our reputation in the world, for regaining our place as a respected world leader... not just because of our might but because of our heart. He reminds us that America's civil liberties and Democracy should be a model for the rest of the world. And that Democracy can be nurtured but never imposed from the outside.
It is entirely fitting that this announcement of endorsement for Dennis Kucinich be made in the hallowed halls of the University of Iowa, since the heart of Dennis Kucinich's campaign combines a thoughtful, educated understanding of the state of the world and America's place in the world with practical experience in the legislature and a deep empathy and regard for the struggles of what is too often dismissed as 'the common man'.
This view of the world can not be understood through 30-second sound bites but from a deep understanding of history, political science, economics and real people.
Kucinich's approach to peace is a holistic approach, moving our nation systematically and on many levels in a new direction... the direction of peace. It is a practical, long term plan that makes sense and is based on building relationship, on collaboration, on understanding how our nation has come to be perceived as an aggressor, as a bully, and what we can do to regain the collaboration and respect of the rest of the world.
The specific components of Kucinich's campaign that won STAR*PAC's endorsement are:
* His Opposition to war in Iraq and Inquiry into Administration Deception - Dennis Kucinich led Congressional opposition to the President's rush to war in Iraq and called for an inquiry into the Iraq intelligence report that proved the President misled, if not lied, to the American people regarding weapons of mass destruction and the "imminent threat from Iraq".
* His strong emphasis on National Security - In the world after 9/11, a world of fear and uncertainty, Kucinich calls for a new dedication to substantive changes in how we go about dismantling terrorism, with real intelligence work, not merely shifting agencies, playing red-light/yellow light, and other cosmetic changes.
Dennis Kucinich's Administration would protect and strengthen Homeland Security without sacrificing America's essential liberties which are a model for the rest of the world. He promises to cancel or significantly re-write the controversial US Patriot Act.
He promises to return to Congress the right to thoughtfully review groundbreaking changes in constitutional law and strategies for war. These are checks and balances set in place by our founders which the current Administration has set aside for expediency sake, forgetting that these measures are meant to protect our nation from rash and unjust action.
* His position on Terrorism and long-term safety for the American people - According to a recent Pew Research Study, America's reach for Empire has softened international support for our war on terrorism, jeopardizing American lives at home and abroad. Kucinich calls for an early withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and a collaborative international rebuilding and peace-keeping mission there that asks for the support and advice of other nations and shares rebuilding contracts with our allies. Nations assuming part of the risk of America's misadventure in Iraq should be able to offer their own constituents a reasonable incentive for helping Iraq assume its rightful place in the world again.
Kucinich demonstrates a deep understanding of the cause and effect relationship between history and acts of terror. He reminds us that America's goodwill has been misused by previous Administrations, leading to a growing divide between us and our allies, and growing mistrust and hatred for the United States among the world's most oppressed populations. He explains eloquently that "The roots of terrorism lie in desperation. People with no hope resort to acts of indiscriminate violence. People with futures don't typically strap on bombs to kill others. We must all refrain from condoning some acts of violence as justified while similar actions by others are dismissed as 'terrorism'".
We can not hope to end terrorism by killing terrorists. Hatred feeds on violence and killing. Dennis Kucinich understands this and offers a more practical approach: to reduce poverty worldwide with bold changes in current US policy. NAFTA and the World Trade Organizations have only served to increase global poverty, thus deepening one of the most virulent causes of terrorism. Kucinich is calling for cancellation of NAFTA and the WTO.
Kucinich asserts that world opinion, which fuels much terrorism against the United States and threats of terrorism, could easily be turned to America's advantage with less force and more diplomacy, undergirded by an understanding that "We share this fragile planet and are our brother's keeper." And he backs up that view with real commitments to move us in that direction.
* His Non-Aggression Policy for a Relaxing of Tensions. People can't think when they are afraid; they can only react. Fear and fear mongering has gripped our nation for too long. Reacting is what America has been doing since 9/11.. demonstrating a lack of wisdom at the helm. It's time to think ahead.
Dennis Kucinich understands that. He says "We must recognize that immense power calls for restraint. A mighty country that employs its massive military might too easily invites the wrath of the powerless and the oppressed."
* His Support for a Strong Military, but not reckless support - Kucinich's approach will work to relax world tensions without relaxing our guard.
He supports a strong military but not at any cost. He vows to cut the $400 billion 2004 proposed military budget by $60 billion, leaving an army that continues to far exceed the military preparedness of every one of America's so-called "enemies" and dramatically exceeds the military budget of the next (in size) 30 nations combined. He proposes cutting funds from new weapons systems... we already have the most advanced weaponry in the world.... while raising the salaries and benefits of soldiers and their families.
* His Long-Term Vision for Peace - Dennis Kucinich is calling for creation of a pro-active, cabinet level Department of Peace to promote conflict resolution and peace-keeping as an alternative to the primitive and unworthy choice of war to settle differences. An idea that is long overdue and worthy of a nation as great as ours.
* His Collaborative World View - Dennis Kucinich is committed to realigning America as a valued world ally and respected leader in the global village by signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and working with other nations to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons globally.
He also vows to sign a treaty to end the use of land mines and to clean up land mines left behind in old conflicts which threaten the life and limb of innocent civilians, women and children.
His recommitment of US support for the United Nations, the Declaration of Human Rights and multi-lateral approaches to diplomacy and conflict resolution.
His vow to end government promotions and underwriting of weapons sales, along with severe limitations on selling the United States' latest high tech weaponry. This deadly and expensive cycle of racing to create the latest weapons and then turning around and selling them to the highest bidder, necessitating ever more expensive and deadly weapons development must end.
His commitment to stop exporting small arms to the world's poorest nations whose people plead for bread but get guns.
His commitment to reduce poverty worldwide by abandoning the devastating policies of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization which enslaves the worlds poorest people in low-paying anti-union dead-end jobs instead of holding high the values of fair pay for fair work. And ending NAFTA and the WTO would boost the American economy by ending outsourcing of American jobs... the promise of a good future for our children and grandchildren.
Kucinich's commitments also include plans for
* real campaign finance reform, which has never been more critically needed.
* genuine environmental clean-up...ending this Administration's sacrifice of clean air and water and their sell out to wealthy corporations and industries,
* an energy bill that focuses on renewable energy and decreased reliance on fossil fuels,
* renewed enforcement of anti-trust laws,
* an education package that removes and improves the No Child Left Behind legislation,
* and a commitment to create a system of universal healthcare in the United States.
For these reasons, and many others, STAR*PAC is proud to give its endorsement to Dennis Kucinich... the next President of the United States... and the first President of the new millennium who stands for PEACE.