Thursday, September 22, 2005

Do You Listen to Your Allies?

George Galloway is an anti-imperialist member of the British Parliament who opposes the war in Iraq and the draconian, self-serving policies of the current American administration.

When he talks simply, frankly, and sanely, he is smeared by the American wrong-wingers. Of course, Europeans don't fall over and play dead when they are criticized, as Americans do, nor do they lash out with some flag-waving accusation of their opponents being unPatriotic. Galloway answers his critics with facts, wit and strongly-worded positions that we used to hear before the day of Reagan-esque sound bites.

Face it, those petty smear tactics are reserved for the American media and Sky Television (which is less and less Fox-like each day, even though it is owned by the same Australian wrong-winger). Europeans, excepting the rare pro-fascist Brit, Italian, or Dutchman, are a rather free-thinking, open-minded lot. They are not as easily swayed by hysterical (and false) media reports as we Americans.

Since Britain is the last democratic nation to be our ally, I think it is important that we listen to the British. I mean, fascist states like China don't really give a shit about us in the end. As soon as we stop using our tax dollars to lubricate the criminal free markets of that economy, they will turn on us like so many jihadists in a teapot.

You think that Muslim rage is scary? Wait until you see the Chinese response when we fail to pay-off the loans they are providing to fund Bush's tax cuts and war. We owe those communists a bloody fortune! They will not be forgiving when the American treasury has completely run out of funds because the billionaires decide they are done paying all taxes. When there is nothing in our coffers to pay-off the Chinese, Koreans, and Arabs who are funding our post-Reagan economy, we will face a foreclosure dilemma and bankruptcy that will make Donald Trump blush.

Although the American media will present British opinion as backing United States policies, a majority of British are bemused by our policies and actions around the world and in our own nation. The ground-swell of support we originally heard from those Isles has diminished more quickly than our oil supply. The Brits are a bit too savvy to fall for the call-to-arms that has failed us so miserably, and most of them are done funding this foolishness.

So, when a member of the British Parliament comes to America to speak at universities and public events, I think it's important to listen to him.

This article below originally appeared in The Capital Times and is reprinted from madison.com.

Galloway's Frankness Invigorates, Shocks Americans
Saturday, September 17, 2005
John Nichols

Americans who are familiar only with the almost always empty words -- and often empty heads -- of this country's political leaders can be a little shocked by George Galloway's pronouncements.

The British parliamentarian, who came of age in the brawling political landscape of his native Scotland, where a quick wit and a savage debating style are prerequisites for electoral success, does not mince words in the manner that most American pols do.

Consider Galloway's statement in response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath:

"The scenes from the stricken city almost defy belief. Many, many thousands of people left to die in what is the richest, most powerful country on Earth. This obscenity is as far from a natural disaster as George Bush and the U.S. elite are from the suffering masses of New Orleans. The images of Bush luxuriating at his ranch and of his secretary of state shopping for $7,000 shoes while disaster swamped the U.S. Gulf Coast will haunt this administration.

"In the most terrible way imaginable they show to the whole world that it is not only the lives of people in Baghdad, Fallujah and Palestine that Bush holds cheap. It is also his own citizens -- the black and poor people left behind with no food, water or shelter. This is not simply manslaughter through incompetence, though the White House's incompetence abounds. It is murder -- for Bush was warned four years ago of the threat to New Orleans, as surely as he was warned of the disaster that would come of his war on Iraq. ...

"His is the America of Halliburton, the M-16 rifle, the cluster bomb, the gated communities of the rich and of the billionaires he grew up with in Texas. There is another America. It is the land of the poor of Louisiana, it is the land of the young men and women economically conscripted into the military. It is the land of the glorious multiethnic mix that was New Orleans, it is the land of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and of great struggles for justice."

That's not exactly a politically correct response to the crisis, at least not in George Bush's America of muted debate and sappy bipartisanship. But it is one that will ring true with a significant proportion of the American population, as have Galloway's pronouncements with regard to the war in Iraq.

Galloway, who will appear at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus, became an instant hero to many opponents of the U.S. occupation of Iraq when the previously little-known member of the British Parliament flew to Washington to appear before the Senate's Permanent Committee on Investigations.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., a headline-grabbing conservative who is trying to position himself for a presidential run, had accused Galloway and other European figures of opposing the Iraq war because they had received "oil for food" program kickbacks from Saddam Hussein. In fact, Galloway had successfully challenged the same accusations in Britain and gone on to win a stunning victory in that country's May 5 election. So Galloway jumped at the chance to go before Coleman's committee, which he did in a remarkable May 17 appearance.

After rebutting Coleman's charges -- "Mr. Chairman, I am not now, nor have I ever been an oil trader, and neither has anyone been on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf." -- Galloway turned the tables on his accuser, tearing into the senator with a fiery attack on the war and its proponents:

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed 1 million Iraqis, most of them children. Most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to be born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies," Galloway informed the fool on Capitol Hill.

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaida. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies."

Coleman couldn't get out of the hearing room quick enough. The senator had met more than his match, and he quickly changed topics.

For his part, Galloway was stunned by Coleman's lack of preparation for the confrontation.

"The senator's performance was pitiful, embarrassing. He did not know the first thing about the matters he was raising," says Galloway, who has clashed with some of the ablest legislators on the planet. "When I was told that Mr. Norm Coleman has presidential ambitions, I thought: I fear for America. I fear for the world. This man is not prepared to be a senator, let alone the leader of the most powerful country in the world."

If Galloway was dismayed by the quality of American politicians, he was heartened by the response of the American people. He received more than 20,000 e-mails from Americans in just the first few days after his appearance before the committee. So high was the interest that he has now penned a book on the incident, "Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington" (The New Press), and his tour this month of the U.S. is drawing unprecedented crowds. (More than 1,000 people attended his debate this week in New York with war backer Christopher Hitchens.)

Galloway is enjoying the chance to expound on his views before American audiences, even if he is sometimes frustrated by the determination of his critics to paint him as the Beast of Britain.

He laughs at the claim that he is a "friend" of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, noting that he met Hussein only twice -- "exactly the same number of times that (Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld met him," Galloway notes. "The difference," he adds, "is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns."

Galloway's impression of Saddam is far more nuanced than that of American politicians or commentators. But his is hardly a favorable view.

"I found him to be a man who is capable of rational and irrational actions, which I think is the nature of dictatorship," he explained.

To accusations that his militant opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq means that he supports terrorism, Galloway responds that he is opposed to the killing of innocents by any group or any means -- "be it a suicide bomber or a bomb dropped from an airplane flying overhead." He rejects the notion that the United States or Great Britain ought to decide whether the insurgents in Iraq are "legitimate" representatives of popular sentiment in that country, arguing instead, "It is the height of imperialism to suggest that the Iraqi insurgency is legitimate or illegitimate."

What he will suggest, however, is that the only way to sort out the mess in Iraq is for occupying forces to exit the country. To those who tell him that withdrawal of foreign troops would lead to chaos, Galloway replies, "From what I see, there is quite a lot of chaos there now."

That's Galloway. Quick of wit and unapologetic, he is the antidote to the American politician.

After being expelled from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party, he formed a new party, Respect, and then beat one of Blair's closest allies in parliament. He decries the stilted debate and the "corrupt duopoly" of American politics, which sees many Democrats echoing the lines of a Republican president.

But Galloway takes his anti-imperialism seriously. When asked whether he thinks American war foes should work within the two major parties or go the independent or third-party route, he says, "It's not for me to say whether you need a new party in the United States. We determined in Britain that an alternative was needed. What I can say is that the whole world has suffered because the debate in the United States has been inadequate. One of the reasons I am here is to stir it up."

That George Galloway will surely do.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times.


An unofficial Galloway website.

Galloway will appear on Bill Maher's HBO show this Friday night. Tune in!

Thanks to Charley for sending this along!


Dick Mac Recommends:

Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington
George Galloway






8 comments:

Liz said...

The problem with Galloway is that he has been a supporter of far right Muslim fundamentalists for many years so he will say something that I agree with, or 10 things I agree with, and then make a ludicrous and anti-semitic statement. I can't take him seriously and no-one here does. There are many commentators here, nice liberal ones, who say the same as him without the nastiness and idiocy.

His reputation here is in tatters because he's such a nutcase. What a shame, because he makes a lot of good points. But he is bonkers!

DM said...

They're all bonkers, all the politicians! That's why they can't get real jobs!

Gallowyy just doesn't have the falsifying panache of Blair and the more Clinton-esque politicians.

I never agree with everything anybody says, but I would rather listen to Galloway than that British fascist, Christopher Hitchens! Nothing worse than listen to a glib drunk on national television -- especially when he is as poorly dressed, unkempt, and tedious as Hitchens! Now THAT man is a danger to everyone!

Custos Morum said...

This is the most ill-informed post you've ever made and Liz was far too polite in her reply to help you to see the point.

The most common misconception regarding George Galloway is that he is anti-war; it would be more accurate to describe him as pro-war for the other side.

Britain's Stop The War Coalition (STWC) is an umbrella organisation that includes the antisemitic Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The electoral front organisation for the SWP is George Galloway's Respect Coalition. Among the candidates for Respect in various elections were Lindsey German (the convenor of the STWC and a leading SWP member), John Rees (also of the STWC and SWP) and Paul Mcgarr (SWP ideologue and writer for the in-house paper, the Socialist Worker). In the Socialist Worker on the 23 March 2003 Mcgarr stated that:

"The best response to war would be protests across the globe which make it impossible for Bush and Blair to continue. But while war lasts by far the lesser evil would be reverses, or defeat, for the US and British forces. That may be unlikely, given the overwhelming military superiority they enjoy. But it would be the best outcome in military terms."
[My Italics]

The piece you reproduce from madison.com gives the very false impression that George Galloway is not an admirer of Saddam Hussein. Luckily, he is on the record and can only wriggle out of this with the most pliant and fawning of newspapers.

Galloway met Hussein in 1994 in Baghdad - not an easy place to get to back then unless someone wanted to see you - and he greeted the dictator and mass-murderer thus:

"Sir, I salute your courage, your strength your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem."

When Christopher Hitchens asked him about this Galloway replied that Hitchens had turned from a butterfly into a slug. Maybe, for you, that qualifies as answering ones critics "with facts" but I demand a somewhat higher standard. I must conclude that you know very little about Galloway or his record at all because nobody familiar with him would conclude that he answers critics with facts.

Hitchens was aboslutely correct in their recent debate that Galloway appears to be in a never-ending search for a tyrannical fatherland. He, again, is on the public record as saying that the fall of the Soviet Union was the saddest day of his life. More recently he has been visiting Damascus where he praised the terrorist attacks taking place in Iraq:

"These poor Iraqis - ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it."

Those operations, in case you haven't caught up with this either, are killing Iraqi civilians in huge numbers.

Finally, although I could write far more, I must insist that you use political terminology correctly. Words - especially heavy words like 'fascist' - mean something. When you misuse a word of such meaning it becomes debased, it begins to carry less weight until eventually it means nothing. Christopher Hitchens is not a fascist or anything even close. Perhaps you hold that all supporters of the war in Iraq are fascists, in which case I've wasted my time and you've disqualified yourself from mature political debate. In any event, by misusing that word you not not only lessen its impact but you also insult the genuine victims of fascism.

George Galloway, on the other hand, is a genuine supporter of fascism. He is on the record as an admirer of Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad (whom, apparently, "Syria is lucky to have"). He has praised the handiwork of the terrorists busy killing Iraqi civilians and his Respect Party is a front for the antisemitic Socialist Workers Party.

I hope this helps put into context Liz's remark that she "can't take him seriously and no-one here does". Ignorance of a little-known and irrelevant British MP is nothing to be ashamed of. However, your description of Hitchens as a "glib drunk" was hardly your finest hour and was worthy of Galloway himself.

DM said...

I am happy to admit being wrong about Galloway; but he makes more sense about America's current condition than the wrong-wing apologists like Hitchens. (Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day!)

Fascist does mean something specific, and the corporate fascism crippling America today is as bad for American liberty as Mussolini's fascism was for Italy. Hitchens, if not an actual corporate fundamentalist or corporate fascist is, at best, an apologist for the corporate fascism that has gutted the American free-enterprise system and grossly eroded our Bill of Rights.

Mentioning Galloway's visit with Hussein in 94 is pointless without mentioning Rumsfeld's meeting with Hussein in 83 when the USA gave Hussein the WMDs we then accused him of harboring! Which visit is more reprehensible? I don't think there is any comparison. I've never heard of Galloway actually arming those he holds responsible for evil. Rumsfeld, Reagan and both Bushes, repeatedly armed and financed Arab nations that then turned those weapons and finances against the USA and its former allies.

I know I am not always correct. I am always interested in new information. That makes me open-minded and I like being that way. I have made other ill-informed posts; but it is in an effort to find new information, not an effort to close myself off from those with whom I disagree.

Thank you for comparing me to Galloway (that was a really classy remark after you have so succinctly debased him); because I would never want to be compared to Hitchens!

Peace.

Custos Morum said...

Comparing you to Galloway was unfortunately unavoidable. You'll no doubt be aware of Galloway's clash with Hitchens during the former's performance in front of the Senate Committee. During that clash Galloway demonstrated his admirable willingness to counter critics "with facts". Hitchens asked Galloway about his endorsement of Saddam Hussein's payment for suicide-murderers in Israel and the occupied territories. Galloway answered that Hitchens was a drink-soaked ex-Trotskyite. So, you see, my comparison between yourself Galloway was unavoidable even if it was regrettable. The difference is that Galloway is proud of such cheap slurs whereas I doubt you are. Incidentally, for an admirer of Stalin, the really insulting part is meant to be the ex-Trotskyite bit.

It's an unfortunate aspect of political debate in America that support for the war in Iraq is seen as axiomatically right-wing. To Britons - and to a certain Briton writing in America - this isn't the case. I can only assume that you see Hitchens as a "actual corporate fundamentalist" (or their apologist) because of his support for war in Iraq - it can't be for anything he's actually said. Thousands of members of the ruling British Labour Party who supported the war would find this a bizarre view. Hitchens himself says that:

"it's easier to say that I still think like a Marxist, politically, because I do; it's the way I was trained. I think the materialist conception of history hasn't been bettered as an explanation of the way things happen".

Not, I would suggest, the words of a "corporate fundamentalist".

Mentioning Galloway's visit to Baghdad isn't pointless without mentioning Rumsfeld. I wasn't mounting a defence of Rumsfeld or US policy in the Middle East before the war. I was attacking the record of George Galloway. Mentioning Rumsfeld is no answer to that attack, it's simply an evasion.

I hope my previous remarks weren't taken too badly as your final full paragraph suggest they may have been. When I see a genuine fellow traveller of fascism making waves in America because a largely lazy media is too negligent to apprise their public of the facts, I find that rather difficult to swallow. Likewise, when I see a pro-war journalist who is apprised of the facts being pilloried, not because he's wrong about Galloway but because he was Pro-war and must therefore be smeared, then I find that a trifle galling also.

DM said...

I do not question Hitchens' intelligence or past analytical skills. I do question his motives today.

Custos Morum said...

You don't think it's possible to be sincere and pro-war? There has to be a motive beyond political conviction?

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