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  July 22, 2010


Dennis Kucinich and Johan Galtung: Will the Empire end consciously, or in blood kicking and screaming?
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Congressman Dennish Kucinich elected mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31 in 1977, is the youngest person ever elected to head a major US city. Previously, Kucinich served on the Cleveland City Council. He won his Congress seat in 1996 and while there has authored or co-sponsored bills related to the health care system, Social Security, education and calling for the abolition of the death penalty. Kucinich has also called for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. He is a former presidential candidate, and was reelected into a seventh term in Congress, representing the 10th District of Ohio.

Professor Johan Galtung is the founder and director of TRANSCEND-International. A non-profit network for Mediation and Conflict Resolution by non violent means. The network was founded in 1993. He has mediated in about 50 conflicts between and within states in conflict for over 50 years. Transcend connects over 400 experts in peace and reconciliation work. He currently teaches at the World Peace Academy at the University of Basel.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. We're joined again by Representative Dennis Kucinich and by Professor Johan Galtung, who's the author of The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?. He's also the founder and acting director of TRANSCEND International. I've interviewed Larry Wilkerson a few times, who was Colin Powell's former chief of staff, and he's arguing the following. The American empire—and I'm going to the American empire and then what?—over the next 70, 80, 90 years has to fade as the dominant power in the world. It's either going to be a consciously managed process, or it's going to go out kicking and screaming in a most bloody way. I'm guessing your Department of Peace idea is that this process, and when you say American Empire and then what?, should be a more conscious process. How do you envision where we are headed?

PROF. JOHAN GALTUNG, FOUNDER, TRANSCEND INTERNATIONAL: By giving up imperial policies—and that means, essentially, more conflict resolution, less bases (800 bases now in 150 countries); by politically negotiating, not arms-twisting; culturally not believing that the US has all the solutions, but entering into a dialog, for instance with Islam (they have got [lots of] good ideas about banking, incidentally, and Cuba has some ideas about public health [that] might be interesting); and economically discovering the idea of trade from mutual and equal benefit. Do these four things, and the empire is gone. My prediction is not 70 years. I think it will happen before 2020 and that it opens enormous possibilities for a blossoming United States of America.

JAY: Dennis, you're in the House, and you know in the House and the Senate the forces you're up against here. They are very powerful—in fact, dominant—forces who don't believe in this. I mean, far from it. They believe in, you know, acquire as much as you can as quickly as you can. And it's not their kids that are going to war. In real political terms, how do you win this fight?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH): Well, Washington, DC, is not simply the capital of the nation; it's also the capital of resistance to real change. When we think of war and its place in our society, when we think of the United States as an empire, I think we're looking at a model that has already proven to be unworkable. This is why the Soviet Union fell apart—it could not sustain an empire.

GALTUNG: And so did the British Empire, and so did the French Empire.

KUCINICH: And the history also that they've gone the way of others as well. So we must begin a transition. We must have our perestroika. But we have to go through a process of re-describing what America is about. America will then become a nation among nations, not a nation above nations. I think that is where the world is going, whether or not Congress is going in that direction. Usually we get dragged, as an institution, kicking and screaming into the future.

GALTUNG: And I would add to that, when you go around the world, the best people very often for conflict resolution are American NGOs. So you have two Washingtons, two United States, if you will. And they imagine now that this four-point thing I mentioned about disarmament and so on and about all conflict resolution through a Department of Peace, well, it would be a castle upon the hill. It will be shining. So nobody is suggesting that United States of America will not remain important. And [it] could be a major influence in the world. It's only switching from this negative military coercive and very often bribing and corrupt way of doing it to a more positive way. It can be done. The talent is in this country. It's beautiful. But there is the tendency, whenever somebody stands in the way and there is a problem, to send the Marines [inaudible] not only Marines, incidentally [inaudible] by some counts 243 times since Thomas Jefferson started it. It's about time to end it. So others came to that conclusion. I predicted, incidentally, in 1980 that the Soviet Empire will collapse and that it will start at the weakest point, namely the wall of Berlin. Well, my prediction was within ten years. It came two months ahead of time [inaudible] was quite satisfied with the prediction for my intellectual vanity. And the Soviet Empire [inaudible] Now, what is the wall of Berlin to United States of America? Obviously, the gap between the finance economy and the real economy—if you have a finance economy going like that and a real economy being sluggish, down it goes [inaudible] get up to 12,000 again for Dow Jones, down it'll go. That's one. The other one is, of course, losing war after war after war because United States has come up with popular resistance. And you may try to put it all together under the heading Taliban, like it was done in the Vietnam War into the heading communist. And you just don't understand what's going on. It's a much more diverse and problematic phenomenon and resolutions to it [sic]. Now, who is doing that today? Not the United States of America; those who are solving those conflicts—Turkey, and to a surprising degree Iran; China is in it; Russia is in it. United States is now neither winning nor losing. It's making itself irrelevant.

KUCINICH: The challenge of relevancy which Dr. Galton points to means that America must carefully regard events in the world and not have a negative impact on those events. The rise of the Taliban, for example, in Afghanistan. America mistakenly identified the Taliban with al-Qaeda, and it justified a full-scale invasion of a nation—big mistake. The false claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were used to justify an invasion—more than a mistake, criminal. The attempt to use Iran's development as a nuclear power as an opportunity to rattle the saber and threaten them with attack.

GALTUNG: And then you see clearly how the game is played by Brazil and Turkey, because United States is playing the wrong game.

KUCINICH: I agree. I agree. And we need to change our direction. Going back to—.

JAY: Do you see any indication of that coming from the Obama administration? 'Cause it seems to be pretty much more of traditional pragmatic US policy.

KUCINICH: Well, I will say I've seen one exception, and that is in the relationship with Russia, where the Bush administration immediately moved, upon the election of Vladimir Putin, to cancel major arms treaties. The Obama administration has brought the START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] process back on track, seeking to further diplomatic relations and correspondence and exchanges with Russia. That's very important. Now, some of the other areas, for example in the Middle East, you know, not much of a difference.

GALTUNG: And America relative to Japan, Okinawa, the same. But they really give it [inaudible] interesting to know why. But that is a piece of light.

KUCINICH: Now, that's very, very important.

GALTUNG: Very important.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.

KUCINICH: Good to be with you.

JAY: Thank you for joining us. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network. And if you'd like to know more about Professor Galtung's work, you can look below the player here and we'll show you where his website is.

End of Transcript

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