Thursday, September 18, 2008

Interview With Anti-War Activist Adam Kokesh

Earlier this week, ElectBlue obtained an exclusive interview with anti-war activist and ex-Marine, Adam Kokesh. Although Mr. Kokesh has been a an outspoken member of Iraq Veterans Against The War for some time, he recently gained increased national prominence by staging a very visible protest at the Republican National Convention in St Paul. ElectBlue ExclusiveDuring the live, prime time broadcast of John McCain's acceptance speech, Kokesh unfurled banners opposing the Iraq war and attacking McCain's record
on veterans' issues. As viewers will recall, he was quickly removed from the Xcel Center by security personnel.

Although ElectBlue disagrees with many of Mr. Kokesh's political views, he is clearly a man with a deep sense of patriotism and a true love of liberty. His devotion to a cause he feels is just has inspired many anti-war activists around the country.

Our interview:

: Tell us a little about your background.

Kokesh: I grew up in California, but consider New Mexico to be my home state. Actually, I was born in San Francisco.

ElectBlue: Did you grow up in a military family??

Kokesh: None of my immediate family was in the military.

ElectBlue: We're you always interested in joining the military or did you consider other career opportunities? 

Kokesh:  No. I was pretty set on being a Marine. I went to Junior Boot Camp when I was 14, and I fell in love with the idea there. I didn’t feel comfortable being an adult male without serving in the military. That was the first thing for me.  That, and putting my life on the line for something I believe in.

ElectBlue:  We understand that you graduated from a Native American preparatory school in New Mexico. Are you Native American?

Kokesh:  Nope. I’m the only white student to ever have attended.

ElectBlue: We know that you consider yourself a Libertarian now.  Did you become a Libertarian while serving in Iraq or were you a Libertarian before that?

Kokesh: I was a Libertarian before going to Iraq, but when I came home I purchased a lifetime membership because I could finally afford it.

ElectBlue:  Did you attend the 2008 Libertarian Convention?

Kokesh: I didn’t attend the Libertarian convention. I listened to most of it on the radio.

ElectBlue: Who are you supporting in this presidential election?

Kokesh:  I don’t know. I have a lot of respect for the other third party candidates. I think what’s important this year is that we show the establishment that there are people who care enough to vote but won’t vote for someone who has the corporate sponsorship.  I’ll say right now that I’m writing in Ron Paul’s name.

ElectBlue: What have you been up to since your appearance at the Republican National Convention earlier this month? Has your life changed now that you’ve been thrown into the national spotlight?

Kokesh:  This isn’t anything too new for me, I guess. It’s cool to come home and have a hundred new Facebook requests!   I’ve been a full-time activist for a year and a half. I’ve been making my presence known as much as possible. It’s been life-changing for me. Now, it’s back to the grind.

ElectBlue: You mention on your blog that you've had some difficulties with the Veterans Administration.  You also noted that after you blogged about the problems you got numerous phone calls from the VA trying to resolve them.  Do you think you’re getting more attention from the Veterans Administration because you’re such a well-known anti-war activist?

Kokesh: Definitely. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.  Are they getting paid to read my blog?  I took on the Marine Corps [too]. It was a very public case last year. Everybody loves you when you take on McCain because nobody likes him. 

[McCain] really does have a bad record on veterans. My message was straightforward and right on. It’s just a fact. He votes against veterans. It’s a different perspective than what they are trying to put out.

ElectBlue: Did you plan in advance to protest during McCain’s speech at the RNC?

Kokesh:  I decided to do it the morning of. It just happened.

ElectBlue: Did you just walk into the Xcel Center with the signs you were holding?

Kokesh:  Nope. It was 20x50. I folded it up length-wise and duck-taped it to my calf. I was also there the day before for Palin’s speech. I almost disrupted her speech. But that wouldn’t have been as good.

ElectBlue:  What was your goal in making the protest at the RNC?

Kokesh:  One was to piss in McCain’s kool-aid. McCain is a disgrace to veterans.

Also, injecting my message and to challenge the perception that McCain’s a good veteran and good for veterans. Reframing the debate that we can’t win an occupation. I want to poke a hole in that perception too. A lot of patriotic Republicans don’t’ want to see us lose a war. But we’re not fighting a war. We’re in an occupation. They’re too emotionally invested to think about it objectively or think about it themselves.

ElectBlue:  How do you feel about the war in Afghanistan?

Kokesh:  It’s part of the same occupation and the same failed foreign policy. We might have had a better propaganda. We’re not at war. We’re just making a lot of defense contractors rich.

ElectBlue:  Is your position on Iraq closer to Obama's than McCain's then?

Kokesh:  I can’t in good conscious vote for a pro-war candidate. He’s advocating a surge in Afghanistan and sending troops into Pakistan. And he’s not saying anything about this Russia thing. He wants to keep 40,000 US troops in Iraq indefinitely, on permanent bases, with an increased reliance on private contractor mercenaries like Blackwater and a surge in Afghanistan. His wife is a member of CFR [Council on Foreign Relations]. If anything, Obama is more pro-war than McCain. You gotta read the fine print on Obama. It’s pretty scary.

ElectBlue: What are you long-term plans?

Kokesh:  I want to support Libertarian candidates.

ElectBlue:  Do you have any personal political ambitions?

Kokesh: Yes, I want to run for Congress in my home district in New Mexico when I move back.

I’ve decided to give my life to the cause. Right now, I’m working with the Campaign For Liberty - spreading the good word and inspiring people to take action.

ElectBlue: How do you fund your activism?

Kokesh:  I get paid to speak occasionally. I’m not motivated by money at all. I don’t have any qualms about being a broke activist.

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