Kucinich: Strength Through Peace Not Peace Through Strength is the Way
When I arrived at 4 o'clock in the morning of 5 September in Beirut, I had no idea that I would be touring the South with the official convoy of Ohio Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Knowing my interest for the South, Bilal Sharara, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Parliament, invited me to join the journalists that were going to cover the trip. A few hours later, I found myself in a car with Medhat Abu Kalil from the Assembly Protocol Department, the man who supervised and made sure the trip would be a success and Iman Azzi, a reporter for the Daily Star. We saw Qana, Bint Jbeil, Maroun Ras, Ain Ebel and a few other villages.
Congressman Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth, who used to work as a volunteer with the Red Cross and in India, made a private trip to the South right after the war in the summer of 2006 and now they wanted to see what progress had been made in the region and learn first hand about the problems people have as a consequence of war.
The first stop was in Qana, where Congressman Kucinich and his wife talked to, prayed with and hugged some of the people present at a meeting for those who have lost family members and relatives in the war. Around the graves in the center of the village there were pictures of children, men and women who lost their lives in last year's war.
Kucinich was told that the Lebanese people need freedom and security just as much as anyone else. In Qana, Ali, a Lebanese-American who lives in Dearborn Heights, Michigan since 1951 and served with the US army told the congressman that "this past summer was a very sad situation with the war that took place and the innocent victims that were killed and slaughtered men, ladies and old folks. They had nothing to do with the war." Kucinich responded by saying that "Qana is a message to the entire world. (...) I believe it is possible that the tears of the people of Qana will turn tragedy into peace."
The congressman told the gathering in Bint Jbeil that in addition to the 17 kg fragment of bomb he took with him to the United States in 2006, he has copies of the ID tags of Israeli soldiers given to him by their families for everyone to see. He went on to say that war is a tragedy for both parts and that he intends to work to create the right circumstances to establish peace between Israel and the Arab nations. He rejects the neo-conservative policy of using war as an instrument of policy and promotes strength through peace not peace through strength The locals who were present, many of whom are American citizens, expressed their appreciation for Kucinich’s stand on Lebanon and asked that the United States be just and see and hear them too, not only the Israelis.
Kucinich said he wants America to be loved again everywhere in the world. He believes in and promotes dialog, cooperation and economic, social and political justice.
He already met with Syrian President Bashar Assad because he does not believe isolation is the way to solve problems and in Beirut he met with the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir to receive his blessing and to pray together for peace in the world.
"I think that we need to change the way America operates in the world. We can no longer participate in wars of aggression."
Manuela Paraipan, WSN Editor "Broader Middle East", reports from Lebanon.