By Robert Scheer
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and his wife, Elizabeth, just returned from a personal peace-building initiative in the Middle East, where the congressman was the first American official to visit Lebanon in the wake of its war with Israel.
During their trip, Elizabeth and Dennis Kucinich, the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, met separately with many Lebanese leaders, including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and President Emile LaHoud, and discussed the need for multiparty talks to achieve a lasting peace in the region.
The couple also toured many bombed-out areas in suburban Beirut and accompanied a humanitarian mission from the American University in Dubai that delivered food, water and medical supplies deep into southern Lebanon.
Upon their return, the congressman and his wife spoke with Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer about their mission to the area.
Click here to listen to the 45-minute interview.
Below is an edited partial transcript:
Robert Scheer: Elizabeth, maybe you could bring in some of your own background. You?ve been in devastated areas ? why don?t you tell us something about what you did before you met the congressman and married him?what your reactions were in Lebanon.
Elizabeth Kucinich: Well, I first really wanted to come to America after I took my final exam for my master’s degree, which is in international conflict analysis. My final exam was on conflict resolution in world politics, and I walked into the exam, took the exam, and when I walked out I saw the World Trade Center buildings exploding on the television. ? I really felt that that was a time to try and bring some kind of energy of reconciliation with the world and people and try and bring humanity back to itself. So being with Dennis on this trip was a great privilege?to meet with all of these people.
RS: But before you did that, you had actually traveled quite a bit….
EK: Oh, yes.
RS: Why don?t you tell us something about that background, because it?s not as if you just jumped into Lebanon, sort of unaware of reality.
EK: I spent quite a bit of time in the Middle East before, and really wanted to get back there—feeling that people had a great heart on all sides—to get together if we could really see through the fear and look into the hearts of the people and connect them?give them courage to do that.
Scheer to Dennis Kucinich: ... You?re challenging the basic assumption of the Bush administration?that we?re up against an Islamo-fascism that?s a part of this religion [of Islam].
Dennis Kucinich: There?s a Yiddish proverb that says ?to a worm in horseradish, the whole world looks like horseradish.? And the Bush administration is trapped in [its] own hidebound, narrow ideology of us versus them. They?re trapped in this idea of a world that?s in a Manichean struggle, and as a result, they then make that a projection upon the world, and a self-fulfilling prophecy of chaos that is unleashed in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Lebanon, and in Palestine, and wherever they can. I mean this is just a group that thrives on chaos. Well, frankly, I reject that, that?s a lie. The human condition is ? always seeking unity ? and that?s what we felt in the people that we met. As Elizabeth said, it wasn?t only in the hundreds of people with whom we came into contact with in village after village, but it was also in the leaders. ? We believe after talking to so many leaders in Lebanon and in Israel as well ? this is a moment for breakthrough.
Courtesy Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich
Congressman Dennis Kucinich and his wife, Elizabeth, tour a bombed-out section of South Beirut during a recent personal peace-building initiative, during which they met with many of Lebanon’s top leaders, in addition to some Israeli officials.