George Galloway Speaks on Iraq
By George Galloway*
* George Galloway is Vice Chairman of the Labour Party and a member of Parliament. He is also one of the world’s most prominent and outspoken activists, seeking to bring public attention to the other side of British and American foreign policy, and speaking harshly against the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people.
Two years ago, he drove a red double-decker bus filled with medicine from London to Baghdad. He also challenged the flight embargo imposed on Iraq by commissioning the first peaceful flight from London to Baghdad after the beginning of the sanctions. He also founded an organization called “Mariam Appeal,” which provides medicine, in spite of the sanctions, to Iraqi children.
In The International Campaign Against US Aggression on Iraq, held December 18-19, 2002, in Cairo, Egypt, and attended by, among others, former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, former UN Humanitarian Coordinators for Iraq Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, Galloway addressed the audience:
“Mr. Chairman, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, Assalaamu Aleikum
“Somebody asked me in a television interview this morning why is Britain behaving in the way that it is behind the United States policy. And I answered that when I was a small child at school, I came home and told my grandfather that the teacher had said that Britain had an empire so great that on it the sun never set, and my grandfather answered: ‘that’s because God would never trust the British in the dark!’
“And the British state is behaving as it is for the reason that the scorpion stings. The scorpion stings because it is a scorpion, and the imperialist power behaves like an imperialist power because that is what it is.
“Now I hope you’ll forgive me; I want to devote a few words to our domestic audience, so I will be speaking for the next moment or two to the BBC. Mr. Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, escalated the crisis yesterday by saying, before Mr. Blix had even reported to the security council, that Iraq’s weapons declaration was an ‘obvious falsehood.’ An ‘obvious falsehood.’
“Well Mr. Straw, your government knows a thing or two about obvious falsehoods. Your government is now in the British public mind characterized by a whole succession of ‘obvious falsehoods.’
“There was the dossier about Iraq’s weapons produced by your government, Mr. Straw, what I described at the time as pulp fiction, a weapon of mass deception.
“In that dossier, you made allegation after allegation, about site after site, every single one of which has turned out to be an ‘obvious falsehood.’ Every place you mentioned that has been visited by the inspectors has been found to be empty of the things you said were in there.
“Then there was the ‘obvious falsehood’ of your second dossier, in which you alleged, amongst other things, the inherently inprobable story that the son of the Iraqi president personally tortured the Iraqi football team at half time in a game to make them play better in the second half. You published this in your dossier, but FIFA, the international football authorities, told you that they investigated this and found it to be an ‘obvious falsehood.’
“And then there was the ‘obvious falsehood’ you told about Britain’s firefighters, when you said that while we’ve got money to go around the world setting fire to other people’s countries, we don’t have enough money to pay the men and women who put out the fires and save the lives and properties of the people of Britain.
“And then, most embarrassingly of all, and I don’t want to dwell on private grief, there are the ‘obvious falsehoods’ which the spin doctors in number 10 Downing Street have been telling for the last 21 days about the private business practices of the prime minister’s wife and family and advisors, advisors some of whom turned out to be multiple conmen much practiced in the art of ‘obvious falsehood.’
“So Mr. Straw, the problem for you is that as far as the rest of the world is concerned, most people believe that the ‘obvious falsehoods’ are coming from you and not from Iraq.
“Now I want to say in the few minutes available to me, Mr. Chairman, that people ask me in interviews what can be done. Well, I have to say we are now at the eleventh hour. There is not much more time for meetings like this. There is not much more time for conferences and declarations.
“Action speaks louder than words.
“And when Amr Mussa powerfully described the danger of opening the gates of hell, I tell you it’s beyond time for the Arab public opinion to demonstrate what the gates of hell would look like.
“We had half a million people on the streets of London on the 28th of September. We’re going to have more than half a million on the streets of London on the 15th of February.
“But, as the women have often said to me in Iraq, ‘ayn al Arab?’ [Where are the Arabs?] Where are the Arab demonstrations? Where are the million demonstrators in Cairo, in Damascus, in Casablanca?
“And I say to the government of Egypt, you sent your army in 1991 to defend Kuwait, I’m not even going to ask you to send your army to defend Iraq. I’m not even going to ask you to do that.
“But I say to the government of Egypt and all the governments of the Arab world: At least, at least, at least organize your people! You organize demonstrations. You put the millions on the streets of the Arab capitals to show the British and American governments what the gates of hell would look like!
“If you’re seriously frightened, angry, opposed to what the British and American governments are planning to do, then show it. Then show it! Do for once what your own people would like you to do! Your own people, if there was any democracy, would demand that you do! And that is to mobilize the people of your country in defense of the people of Iraq.
“There is no time to lose; the aircraft carriers are already in the Gulf. 60, 000 American soldiers are already in the Gulf. Thousands of British soldiers are on their way.
“I speak as someone who works in the building where Sykes and Picot committed the original sin against the people of the Arab world. And in the same building in which I work, the same imperialists are currently sitting down on the same tables and planning the Sykes-Picot II.
“And I have to say to the Arab public opinion: If you don’t want another century of slavery, of weakness and division, then you will have to stand up now! Because in the building I work in London, foreigners who’ve never set foot in the Arab world, who know nothing of you, are deciding to make new countries, are deciding to break old countries, and deciding to appoint new corrupt kings and puppet presidents whose tasks will be to rule their countries in the interest of Britain and America rather in the interest of their own people.
“And finally, I say this, Mr. Chairman: The puppet government in Edgeware Road in London, which after 60 days and nights of carpet bombing, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, they intend to install in Baghdad, has already made its first decision even before it’s been formed, even before it’s been installed. Its first decision is to privatize Iraq’s oil industry, to hand over the wealth of the Arabs to the foreign oil companies and their governments.
“That’s what’s at stake here. There are enough puppet presidents. There are enough corrupt kings in the Arab world. Don’t let them install another puppet president or corrupt king in Baghdad! Stand up before it is too late!”