Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Saddam Hussein

War criminal posting his candidature to the Presidency of Lebanon: And this is Not the main topic

Samir Ga3gea, the “historically elected” leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, and who served 11 years in a secluded prison for terrorist activities and assassination of political leaders, has officially submitted his candidacy to the Presidency of Lebanon.

Samir is not the only criminal who submitted his candidacy and was elected.

Late Beshir Gemayel was elected president in 1982 under the Israeli occupation of Beirut. And Beshir is many fold a worse war criminal during the civil war than Samir. And Bashir was a confirmed traitor who blatantly and frequently visited Israel and formally demanded the aid of Israel to occupy Lebanon.

Before Beshir, another criminal was President of Lebanon: the late Suleiman Franjieh (grandad of current Suleiman Franjieh) massacred over 40 people in a church in the 1950’s. He was elected by a single majority vote against a clean and honest candidate.

This post is not meant to delve into details of war crimes in Lebanon, and the list is long for every war lord of each religious sect, such as the current Parliament Chairman Nabih Berry, the Druze leader Walid Jumblat…

The topic of this article is “what could have happened if Beshir Gemayel was not assassinated in September 14, 1982, a single day before the official ceremony inducting him as president of the Republic of Lebanon?”

What if he governed for at least a year before being assassinated?

Probably:

1. Israel would not have entered West Beirut

2. The genocide in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila would have taken place

3. Israel would have retreated to the 40 km “buffer zone” in the south, far quicker than it did, after the fighters of the Palestinian Resistance Movement (PLO) were evacuated from Lebanon.

4. The massacres in the Chouf province between the Christians and the Druze would not have happened (Samir Geaja and his militias (The Lebanese Forces) entered the Chouf at the instigation of Israel)

4. The massacres in East Saida between the Christians and the Sunnis would have been spared (Samir Geaja militias entered the Saida province at the instigation of Israel)

5. The thousands of new Christian refugees to the Christian canton would not have fled their towns and villages

6. The division of Lebanon into sectarian cantons would have been slower in the formation

7. The regular army would have assisted the UN forces in the south and the militias associated with Israel would have been disbanded.

8. A “peace treaty” with Israel would have been ratified with better terms than what was written during Amine Gemayel tenure and which failed to be ratified.

9. The Syrian troops would have stayed in the Bekaa Valley and refrained from approaching Beirut.

10. The sieges and massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian camps by the Amal militias of Nabih Berry (instigated by Syria) would have been delayed, at best.

11. The civil war would have taken another turn and saved Lebanon further deeper chasm among the sectarian forces

12. The Druze militias of Walid Jumblat would not have invested Mazra3a in Beirut with their tanks

13. Amine Gemayel would not have been elected president and the Lebanese currency would not have devalued quickly to 1,500 times less

14. The second largest city of Tripoli would not have turned extremist Islamist, and the secular parties of the Communists and Syrian National Social would have stronger presence in that city

15. Yasser Arafat might not have returned to Tripoli and re-armed the Palestinian camps and cause thousands to be killed during two months of siege.

16. And most likely Samir Geaja would not have ended up leader of the Lebanese Forces militia and left trails of calamities for the Christian population everywhere he got engaged militarily

In hindsight, which governments or political organizations were behind the planning of the assassination of Bashir Gemayel? Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Resistance, any of the Lebanese resistance factions…

Mind you that Islamic Iran was engaged in a protracted war with Iraq of Saddam Hussein that lasted 9 long years of savage fighting.  The cease fire for that war was decided by Ayatolla Khomeini as he learned that he had a few months to live: He decided to extend a survival breathing space for his Islamic regime that was on the verge of collapse.

Question: Would Hezbollah be created?

Yes.

1. Hezbollah would have been instituted simply because the question of Palestine opens the door wide to Islamist Iran to tamper with our internal affairs. The peace treaty would have been an excellent excuse to rally the Shiaa around Iran positions.

2. The frequent tampering of Israel in South Lebanon would have inevitably alienated the Shiaa against the Israeli occupiers.

Exclusive CIA Files : US Helped Saddam Gas Iranians
The US permits itself to gas anyone considered an arch enemy of the time. It used chemical weapons in WWII, Orange gas in Viet Nam on a massive scale, exported Chemical weapons, and aided Saddam of Iraq to gas Iranians and Kurds…
The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus .Foreign Policy has learned that a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop  movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses.

The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to 4 major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed.

The usage of chemical weapons were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

SHANE HARRIS AND MATTHEW M. AID published this AUGUST 26, 2013 on FP: “The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history — and still gave him a hand…”

Saddam Hussein

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.


“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” Francona told Foreign Policy.

According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983.

At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus 3 decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people.

The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons’ use — even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents.

They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks.

They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Note: This is one of 4 pages http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/25/secret_cia_files_prove_america_helped_saddam_as_he_gassed_iran

“Big Bertha” Gun, and Dr. Gerald Paul

The German industrial giant Krupp produced 3 giant guns by the end of WWI. The giant gun could reach target 128 km away, the bomb/missile was 3 feet long, with a power charge of 12 feet long. The missile could go up 42 km before landing.

The big gun was transported on rails and required 80 gunners to operate. Since March 23, 1918, Paris suffered three deadly hits. The military investigators could locate nothing around Paris: They didn’t figured out that such powerful guns could be made operational.

The British planes discovered the guns but were unable to disable any. One gun blew up and killed 5 gunners, and the other two were never found, not even after the war.

In 1965, a German elder woman visited Canada and wanted to get in touch with any renowned scientist to hand him documents. She was a relative of the German designer at Krupp, Fritz Rozinberger, who designed the big guns.

Dr. Gerald Paul, chief of the research team for high altitude propulsion engine at MacGill University, got hold of the detailed drawings of the gun. Dr.Paul dream was of placing orbits in space using a big gun.

The US and Canadian governments funded Dr. Paul experiment in Barbados Island where he tested the biggest gun ever: Length 36 m, caliber 424 mm. Gerald claimed that if the two government supported to test a solid fuel engine, his 200-pound gun could have reached a target at 4,000  km or go up at 250 km.

In 1968, Dr.Paul was pressured to leave Barbados and he nurtured deadly animosities against bureaucrats. He exported 50,000 shells to Israel and the USA, and was awarded an honorary US citizenship.

Gerald sold his most performing gun GC-45 to apartheid South Africa, with the blessing of the US, and the licence to fabricate them, guns that were used in Angola.

As Gerald came back to the US, a court sentenced him to a 6-month prison term for illegal arms trade. After his release from prison, Gerald returned to Canada and settled in Belgium where he opened his own company with the funding of “Poudreries Reunies de Belgique

In the early 1980’s Iraq of Saddam began a 8-year old war with Iran of Khomeini. Dr. Paul sold 200 GC-45 to Saddam Hussein; the guns were manufactured in Australia, and shipped to the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Gerald convinced Saddam to build him the largest of guns: 150 m in length, weighting 2,100 tons and a caliber of 1,000 mm. Gerald started with a smaller version called “Little Babel”, 45 m long.

Gerald designed the two guns Majnoun (Crazy) and Faw and improved on the Scud missiles.

For the biggest gun, Gerald was importing special huge iron pipes from the European countries: The secret services knew that these pipes were not for oil pipelines, but the western countries were allied with Saddam.

Israel assassinated Dr. Paul on March 22, 1990 as he was returning to his flat on Okel Street in Brussels: He was shot 5 times in the back of the head.

Note 1: Story extracted from the Arabic version of “Mossad” by Michael Bar Zohar and Nassim Michaal.

Note 2: Israel had bombed Iraq nuclear facility “Tammouz” in 1981.

It’s never too late to revisit “2005 Debate over Iraq war”: Galloway vs. Hitchens

On Sept. 16, 2005, Galloway and Hitchens debated over Iraq war. This is the transcript. (I edited out the redundant sentences and applause and thanks, and um…)

George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens are two left leaning Irish/British politicians. Hitchens was against the 1991 war of Liberating Kuwait from Saddam Hussein and Galloway was pro this war.  But the roles changed with the 2003 invasion of Iraq: Hitchens sided squarely with the Bush Jr. while Galloway was staunchly against it.

COPYRIGHT © 2005 SEIXON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

CH = Christopher Hitchens

GG = George Galloway

AG = Amy Goodman (moderator)

CH: Thank you very much Amy. You can take it out of my time, but I would propose that we begin with a moment of silence for the 160 people who were sadistically murdered in Baghdad this morning as they went to their places of work or stayed in their places of abode, and as they hoped to register for the upcoming elections. 

I consider it a great distinction to stand on the podium of Baruch College, named for the great Bernard Baruch who first in 1946 proposed that weapons of mass destruction be placed under international inspection and control.

 I’m grateful to the audience for giving me the chance to revisit my misspent Trotskyist days, dishing out a leaflet in steaming heat on the street outside, made me feel, and look, I hope, much younger.

An impression that it is only those of us who support the regime-change, the revolutionary change in Iraq, who have any explaining to do. If you examine the record of the so-called the anti-war movement in this country and imagine what would have happened had its counsel been listened to over the last 15 and more years, you would have a world in which the following would be the case…

Saddam Hussein would be the owner and occupier of Kuwait, he would have succeeded in the annexation, not merely the invasion, but the abolition of an Arab and Muslim state that was a member of the Arab League and of the United Nations.

And with these resources as we now know because he lost that war, he was attempting to equip himself with the most terrifying arsenal that it was possible for him to lay his hands on.

That’s one consequence of anti-war politics, that’s what would have happened.

In the meanwhile, Slobodan Milosevic would have made Bosnia part of a greater Serbia, and Kosovo would have been ethnically cleansed and also annexed.

The Taliban would be still in power in Afghanistan if the anti-war movement had been listened to, and al-Qaeda would still be their guests.

And Saddam Hussein, with his crime family, would still be privately holding ownership over a terrorized people in a state that’s been most aptly described as a concentration camp above ground and a mass grave underneath it.

If I had that record politically I wouldn’t be demanding explanations from those of us who said it’s about time that we stop this continual capitulation to dictatorship, to racism, to aggression and to totalitarian ideology.

That we will not allow to be appeased in Iraq, the failures in Rwanda, and in Bosnia, and in Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

And we take pride in having taken that position, and we take pride in our Iraqi and Kurdish friends who are conducting this struggle, on our behalves I should say.

What did it mean to accept this responsibility? We knew it was a weighty one, and we knew it was a dangerous one.

I’ve argued, I will argue that the war was both just and necessary. I think I can separate perhaps the two concepts.

Iraq had lost its sovereignty as far as a state can do under international law. There are 4 conditions under which a state may be deemed or said to have sacrificed its sovereignty. These are:

1. if it participates in regular aggressions against neighboring states or occupations of their territory;

2. if it violates all the letter and spirit of the terms of  the non-proliferation treaty, and in other words, fools around promiscuously with the illegal acquisition of weapons of mass destruction;

3. if it should violate the Genocide Convention, the signatories to which are obliged without further notice to act either to prevent or punish genocide; and

4. if it plays host to international gangsters, nihilists, terrorists, and jihadists.

Iraq met all these four conditions repeatedly, and would demonstrate its willingness to repeat them on many occasions. Its sovereignty was at an end, it was under international sanctions, it was a ward of the international community.

The Iraqi people were being starved in order to build palaces for their psychopathic dictator. And it was further more imploding as a state and as a society that the divide and rule policy of the Baath party had led to appalling ethnic and confessional hatreds within the country.

An imploded state would have made these worse and you know who would have invaded them.

Turkey would have invaded to try and take Kurdistan.

Iran would have invaded to support its extremist Khomeinite proxies and Saudi Arabia would have intervened in order to do the same favor for the Sunni and Wahhabists and Salafist extremists.

As a matter of fact, all these three foreign interventions are taking place at present, all those three powers are trying to meddle in Iraq but we are fortunate as are the Iraqi people that there is a coalition to hold the ring and to prevent it from becoming another Rwanda or another Congo, another vortex of violence and cruelty and destabilization and war.

It was the only responsible course, I’m willing at any point to take questions and I’m sure I shall be invited to about my own criticisms of and misgivings about the differences with those who conducted and conduct this policy, but on this main, on these main points it seems to me there’s very little room for debate.

Now we know and we make no secret of the extraordinary difficulties that have attended this I think very noble and a risky and worthwhile enterprise. All of you will know, all of you will have seen some of the abysmal consequences of this, but you have I think the responsibility of imagining what the alternative would be.

The positive results.

1. A man who planned and ordered and supervised and took delight in genocide and torture and aggression and the occupation of two neighboring states and the massacres of their people is in jail now and will follow Slobodan Milosevic and Augusto Pinochet into the dock quite soon. I know there are some people here who don’t take delight in this, but I will say that I do. It is a long overdue justice.

2. A constitution, a federal democratic constitution, is being debated now as we speak with the printing of 5 million copies of the original document.

3. Debated on 6 television channels, six, and as many as a hundred newspapers in a country where three years ago, it was death, not just for you, but for your family, to possess a satellite dish. Or to attempt to distribute a leaflet. Death for you and your family, and not a quick one either. Does anyone not agree that this is a night and day difference? 

4. The largest stateless minority in the Middle East, the people of Kurdistan in other words, who have suffered many years of oppression and exile and occupation. In Syria, in Iraq, in Iran, and in Lebanon and in Turkey, have begun to scramble so to say to their feet to assume something like their full height as a people.

Even before the intervention they were producing an autonomy, a democracy, a self-determination of their own in the provinces of northern Iraq, which when I saw them last, were, were a landscape of, of desolation and depravity. You could still smell the poison gas, you could still smell the mass graves, the ruined cities, the burned hillsides, the women who had chemical burns that still burn after years.

Out of this, the Kurds have come to build and help other Iraqis build, when they could have been chauvinistic, they could have been xenophobic, they could have said enough with Iraq, we’re through with it, we’re leaving. Instead it accepted their internationalist responsibilities. President Talabani, it seems to me, is a president of whom any country in the region could be proud, not just by the sort of comparisons one could make.

This is an extraordinary, unarguable, and ambiguous gain.

5. The disarmament of Libya, capitulation of colonel Gaddafi, his abandonment of his covert arsenal of mass, weapons of mass destruction, and the walking back of the evidence that he gave us, because we all have it now, thank you sir, in Oakridge, Tennessee. Which I think is the right place for it, on analysis was able to disclose to us that the providence of much of this illegal weaponry was the AQ Khan network in Pakistan.

A kind of Wal-Mart for WMD, nukes-r-us, with the line stretching all the way from North Korea to the Iraqi envoys who, in March 2003 as the coalition was preparing to intervene, were negotiating in Damascus with the envoys of Kim Jung Il, to buy North Korean missiles off the shelf and people say Iraq and WMD can’t be mentioned in the same breath.

6. The spread, no less important, of the democratic impulse within the region. Not only is this being spread by the vector of the Kurdish people and their revolution, because as you will be readily able to find if you haven’t read of it already, there have been demonstrations in Kamishli, the Kurdish main city of northern Syria.

Among the oppressed Kurds who suffer under the ossified theocracy of Iran and of course in Turkey as well, to pick up the message that yes, liberation is at hand. These demonstrations broke out on the day that president Talabani was sworn in as president in Iraq. There’s an unmistakable connection between them. We who have been friends of the Kurds are very proud of their achievement, and we intend to stand by them no, matter, what.

7. I will add that the moral leader of the Egyptian democracy movement, the man who has been begun to break open the argument in Egypt, and he’s suffered a long period of imprisonment during this time and was written to by Nelson Mandela as Egypt’s equivalent, has told me, and for quotation, that in his opinion, this new mood in the region would be unthinkable if it was not for the removal of the single worst tyrant who was present there.

That’s not nothing, in point of testimony, that’s from deep within the bowels of the Egyptian prison system, the man who is the moral hero of the democracy movement. He says, and I agree with him, and he is echoed by Anwar Ibrahim as far away as Malaysia, who is the Malay equivalent, and by the leader of the Socialist Party of Lebanon, Mr. Jumblatt, have all stated publicly, uh, that this for them is the beginning of the end, the fall of the wall as they put it.

It is a crime that Mr. Gaddafi has profited from the theft of money from the Iraqi Oil For Food program, has told continuous lies about his profiteering from it, and the foul associates that he made. At a time when Iraqi children were dying and eleven billion from this program, eleven billion, went to the murderer and criminal and sadist and fanatic Saddam Hussein. How can anyone who is a business partner of this regime show their face in a city like this? And not content with it, not content with it..

Not content with it, Galloway turns up in Damascus. The man’s search for a tyrannical fatherland never ends! The Soviet Union’s let him down, Albania’s gone, the red army’s out of Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia. The hunt persists! Saddam has been overthrown, and his criminal connections with him have been exposed, but on to the next.

On the 30th of July, in Damascus in Syria, appearing, I’ve given it all to you on a piece of paper. In front of Mr. Assad, whose death squads are cutting down the leaders of democracy in Lebanon, as this is going on, to tell the Syrian people they’re fortunate to have such a leader. The slobbering dauphin who they got because he’s the son of the slobbering tyrant who came before him. How anyone with a tincture of socialist principle can actually speak in this way is beyond me, and I hope ladies and gentleman, far beyond you and far beneath your contempt. Thank you.

AG: George Galloway, your response.

GG:  Slobbering was the note that Mr. Hitchens chose to end on, I’m not sure that was wise. But I want to begin by praising Mr. Hitchens…

In Dundee, my home city, at the annual delegate meeting of the national union of journalists, 25 years ago. The same Mr. Hitchens made a speech in which he praised me and the city council for what he described as its brave act of twinning the city of Dundee with the Palestinian city of Nablus. He said…

CH: No, no, no. Must have been someone else.

GG: You see, it was very important Mr. Hitchens, support for the Palestinian people, and it was not easy in 1980. Only a few years before, the Palestinian resistance had seized the Israeli Olympic Games team in Munich, and had committed what most people in the world described as an act of mass terrorism.

Mr. Hitchens’ courageous stand with groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the hijackers of many an aircraft, the carrying out of many a military operation was very significant because it was very rare. Equally, I want to thank Mr. Hitchens for the brave stand he made against the war on Iraq in 1991.

One of the magic moments of that great era was Christopher Hitchens on television with the gun-nut Charleston Heston. When Heston was fulminating, desperate to get in there, desperate to attack, Hitchens told him to keep his wig on, and then he asked him, magically, to name four countries with a border with the country he was so keen to invade. And Heston, of course, could name, none.

That was important because it was very difficult to oppose the war against Iraq in 1991, after all, it was ruled by somebody called Saddam Hussein. It was governed by the Baath party who continued to govern it thereafter.

It was only 3 years since those chemicals weapons that Mr. Hitchens could still smell when he was last there, had been launched against the Kurdish people he will never leave alone. Only 3 years before Halabja had taken place. And of course, perhaps most significantly of all, it was difficult to oppose that attack on Iraq in 1991 because Iraq had invaded and abolished, to quote him a few minutes ago, a member state of the Arab League, of the United Nations, a Muslim Arab country.

Not withstanding all of these things, Mr. Hitchens bravely, fanatically you may say, stood against the idea of president George Bush invading Iraq in 1991.

What you have witnessed since, is something unique in natural history. The first ever metamorphosis from a butterfly back into a slug.

I mention slug purposely, because the one thing a slug does leave behind it, is a trail of slime. Now, I was brought up by my father on the principle never to wrestle with a chimney sweep, because whatever you do, you can’t come out clean.

But you, Mr. Hitchens, are no chimney sweep. That’s not coal dust in which you are covered. You are covered in the stuff you like to smear on to others. Not just me, with your Goebbelian leaflets, full of selective quotation, half-truth, mis-truth, and downright untruth, and the comments you made in your last two minutes of this speech. But people much more gentle than me, people like Cindy Sheehan. Whom you described…

Whom you described, whom you described as a sob-sister, as a flake, as a La Rouchie, a woman who gave the life of her son for the war you have come here to glory in. People like Mr. Hitchens are ready to fight to the last drop of other people’s blood, and it’s utterly contemptible, utterly and completely contemptible. 

Hitchens makes much, and I know that he will in his next segment, so I shall, to coin a phrase, pre-empt it of the nature and character of those resisting the foreign invasion and occupation in Iraq. I spoke last night in Boston, in a hall, where many of the leaders of the great American revolution stood and spoke.

My favorite member of the British parliament has a statue, it’s the first one you meet as you walk in Saint Stevens entry. It is a statue of Charles James Fox. He was expelled twice from parliament for supporting the American revolution and supporting the French revolution. Now some might say, Fox was wrong, supporting the anti-colonial struggle of the American people.

After all, some might say, better be careful what you wish for, Charlie, maybe one day that independent free country you’re supporting the birth of will be ruled by crazed fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, and George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney, and Michael Ashcroft.

They might have said, be careful Charlie, if this country becomes free, it might one day not even be able to pick up the dead bodies in one of its most important cities a week after they’ve laid there. Such is the malevolence and incompetence of the government which will rule it.

But Fox would have said no, Fox would have said no, he would have said the American people have a right to be free. Who they chose to rule them is a matter for them, let them make their mistakes, let them have their own politics. My country has no right to occupy them any further.

Now I am, I am of Irish background myself. When the Irish people rose in 1916 for their freedom to strike one of the first decisive blows against the British empire, on which the sun never sets, because God would never trust the English in the dark. When the Irish people rose, the Hitchens of those days, in Bloomsbury, in the salons, denounced the Irish rebels as priest-ridden, bog-trotting, Celtic, Gaelic, obscurantists to whom they would never issue, from Bloomsbury, a certificate of approval.

But the only certificate of approval that mattered, was the one issued by the Irish people, not the liberals in London who refused to endorse it.

My point is this, for us in the United States and the United Kingdom there is only one big question. Mr. Bush actually framed it for us: Are you with the foreign occupation of Iraq, or are you with the right of the Iraqi people to be free and to resist the foreign armies who have violently invaded them. 

That’s why that cheap, cheap demagoguery by Hitchens at the beginning of this debate got the risible response that it did from this audience, because he wants you to have, he wants you to make a minute silence for the 145 today, but he can’t bring himself to mention the massacre in Tal Afar over the last 4 days in Iraq.

He doesn’t want to know about the massacre in Fallujah when the American forces, brick by brick, destroyed a city and massacred thousands of people.

Now this debate, as Amy Goodman said, is taking place at a very important time on a very important subject. This war, in which he glories, although I wish, how I wish he would put on tin hat and pick up a gun, and go and fight himself. How I wish, how I wish to see that sight.

This war in which he glories has cost the lives, according to those well known Saddamist fronts, the Lancet and Johns Hopkins University, well in excess of 100,000 peoples lives. And hundreds of thousands more have been maimed and wounded. And it was all for a pack of lies, there were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, there was no link between Iraq and the atrocities on the 9th of September, on the 9-11 here in the United States.

There was no welcome for the foreign armies that invaded Iraq. Hitchens said they would be greeted by flowers, but there are 2,000 young Americans boys lying in the ground now, testimony to the fact that they were welcomed by something else. And thousands, and thousands more, wounded, maimed, many of them in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, testament to the folly of Hitchens, and Bush, and Cheney, and the rest of the neo-con gang that dragged your country into this disaster.

The international legal and political system has been defaced and disfigured. The world has been made a more dangerous place, not just for us, but for our children, and their children, for generations to come. The world has been made a more dangerous place.

Hitchens asks us to believe that hundreds of thousands of western soldiers invading a Muslim country would make less Islamist fundamentalism. He asked us to believe that devastating Iraq, and making a Yugoslavia on top of the world’s biggest oil fields would make the world a safer and more stable place. There is scarcely a sentient being in the land, who any longer believes that the war on Iraq was either necessary or just or a good idea.

You may very well ask, why so many people wanted to come in here and watch and listen to two British guys debating in the United States of America about a war far away. I think the reason is this: our two countries are the biggest rogue states in the world today. 

It is therefore vitally important that those who oppose the crimes of our governments, on both sides of the Atlantic, link hands, link arms, stand shoulder to shoulder, until we’ve rid the world of George W. Bush and Anthony Blair, once and for all. Thank you very much.

AG: Christopher Hitchens, 10 minutes.

CH: Well I think it’s, I can say that it’s sort of a pleasure to be insulted by Mr. Galloway under any of my identities. I’ve never made a speech at a journalist conference in Dundee, for example. I don’t know who does Mr. Galloway’s research though I think I can guess.

GG: Eamonn McCann, he said it on radio, he said it on radio in New York on Saturday. Eamonn McCann, you remember him?

CH: I remember Eamonn McCann very well, by the way he gives me the opportunity to say that I’ve been a life-long supporter of the reunification of Ireland, and with Edward Said in the early years of the intifada, as early as ’86, published a book as you can still get from New Left Books/Verso, called Blaming the Victims about the, the struggle for the full establishment of Palestinian rights.

And yes it’s true that I was an opponent of the last Gulf War, I don’t know why anyone thought that to make such a point was a point against me. I dare I say I might not have been invited here, in this, this “Battle of the Titans” if it wasn’t tolerably well known that I think I was probably mistaken on that occasion.

If you can assimilate a point as simple as that I think you’ll have to notice something about what Mr. Galloway just said and the rhetorical, I won’t say trick, I would say squalid maneuver that underlies it.

To hear him speak, you would think, would you not, that he was a pacifist, that he defines himself as anti-war. Now how can this be said, in good conscience, by someone who has just, standing by the side of the dictator of Syria, on the 30th of July, referred to the 154 heroic operations conducted in Iraq by the so-called resistance, or the resistance that is run as we know by a senior bin Ladenist and by many of the former secret police of the Baathist regime?

How can someone say, and say they’re anti-war and they care about casualties that they praise the 154 operations a day?

GG: 145.

CH: Let me remind you what some of those operations were. The blowing up by military grade explosives of the headquarters of the United Nations in Baghdad a few months after the intervention. As it was being tenanted by Sergio de Mello, one of the great international civil servants of our time who was fresh from, Amy knows more about this than I, but fresh from his role in the very belated supervision of the independence of East Timor from Indonesia, and the holding of free elections in East Timor.

And the jihadists who murdered him put out a communiqué saying we have today put an end to the life of this disgusting man because he freed Timor from Muslim holy land in Indonesia. These people are not pacifists, ladies and gentleman, nor are they anti-imperialists. If you haven’t noticed, they called for the restoration of the lost empire, the caliphate, and the imposition of Sharia law on all non-believers within its borders. That’s not pacifism, that’s not anti-imperialism. 

To sully the name of Charles James Fox, ladies and gentleman, with such a squalid, with such a squalid enterprise of brigandage and conquest is truly revolting. It’s almost as funny as Michael Moore saying that the Zarqawi’ite resistance in Iraq, for him, the same as the Minute Men of the American revolution.

There comes a point, and I think it’s come by now, where what people say is self-discrediting, requires no more comment from me. Some of this is funny, OK. Some of it simply shows that the people on the other side of this house are not serious. The cheap laugh and easy joke will do for them.

Of course it’s funny, that the authoress of the Vagina Monologues puts Mr. Galloway on the campaign trail with Jane Fonda, who can’t laugh at that? I know, I know a number of women who can’t wait, people who used to know Mr. Galloway, to hear a woman talk back to him in any way at all. But the seriousness of it can’t be concealed.

Now among the people killed by these heroic operations, in Iraq, some of them run from Syria and paid for by the human toothbrush and slobbering dauphin Assad, Mr. Galloway’s new pal. Among the victims of these, of these operations was specialist Casey Sheehan, who was trying to clean up the festering slum of what had once been called Saddam City, and was now known to us as Sadr City where the water-supply is coming back on, it’s taking a while, because people keep blowing it up, but it’s coming back on.

Now I will put a simple moral proposition to you and see if I’ve phrased it alright. Is it not rather revolting to appear in Damascus by the side of Assad and to praise the people who killed Casey Sheehan, and then to come to America and appeal to the emotions of his mother?

I say sincerely I didn’t think it could get as low as that, and yes I did criticize the luckless Mrs. Sheehan because she had made a very unfortunate political statement, suggesting that she agreed with Mr. bin Laden that George Bush was the murderer of her son, which is not, the son, the son…

You exculpate the murderer, you exculpate the killers right there. They didn’t kill him. Shame on him, shame on you for saying that.  She had made an unfortunate statement, which I called her on, and she denied having made it, which is a false claim, and she said that someone else had magically inserted it into her e-mail, which is a claim equally found to be false. All of these claims, ladies and gentleman, can found to be false by a moment’s checking.

If you really believe the crazed fabrication, fabrication of the figures of 100,000 deaths in Iraq, and if you think that only people who die in Iraq. Excuse me, that the only deaths caused in Iraq are by coalition forces, if you’re willing to believe any or all of that, you can simply go to my colleague Fred Kaplan’s space on slate.com. He’s a very stern and strong critic of the war, a great opponent of mine, we’ve had quite a quarrel about it. He’s a great writer about science and other matters. It’s a simple matter to show this is politicized hack work of the worst kind, the statistics in that case have been conclusively and absolutely shown to be false and I invite anyone to check it.

Everything I say has at least ten pages of documentation which I’m willing to share behind it, and you’ll have your chance to challenge me and ask questions to Amy.

Except to say this about the question of who’s who in this war. Iraq is not being occupied by president Talabani, president Talabani was born there. He’s had to move a few times, he’s seen his villages destroyed and his home bombed and his family shot at and murdered, so he’s not occupying Iraq.

President Taliban is in fact the leader of the Patriotic Unit of Kurdistan, which is the corresponding member organization of the Socialist International, it is the Iraqi member party of the Socialist International. The Iraqi Communist Party, a party with a great record of bad politics but good civil struggle in Iraq and with great organization among the women and trade unionists and journalists and workers of the country… Has of course been a member already of the provisional government and is campaigning enthusiastically in the elections.

There are probably some people among you here who fancy yourself as having leftist revolutionary credentials, as far as I can tell that you do from the zoo-noises that you make… And the scars that you can demonstrate from your long, underground, twilight struggle against Dick Cheney.

But while you’re masturbating in that manner, the Iraqi secular left, the socialist and communist movements, the workers’ movement, the trade unions, are fighting for their lives against the most vicious and indiscriminant form of fascist violence that any country in the region has seen for a very long time.

And the full intent of that, the full intent of that was, and I’ll say it to it, yes, yes in Fallujah was to establish a Taliban-regime and a safe-house for al-Qaeda recruiting. That’s what we were facing. You think you can fight that without casualties? You’re irresponsible, you’re ahistorical. We take, on this side of the house, without conditions, we take our side with the struggle of the Iraqi democratic and secular left against fascism, we make no apology.

Those who have betrayed their own party, Mr. Galloway had to be expelled from the great labor movement of which I was, I myself still a member, because of advocating the shooting, publicly advocating jihad against British troops, now turns on the Iraqi left and wishes them well. As they, as wishes and argues and hopes for their defeat by an onslaught which would make Afghanistan seem like a civilized country. What two positions can one take about this, I invite you to consider carefully, and thank you.

AG: I wanted to see if we could get some wind screens on the microphones here. Um, but failing that, if you could just lower your microphone Mr. Galloway so that you don’t speak right into it. Great. Ten minutes, George Galloway.

GG: Crazed fabrications? Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Association.

You think that one of the, you think that the academics from one of the world’s finest universities in your own country are crazed fabricators? I’m going to have to deal with this hypocrite Hitchens.

He talks about the death of soldiers in an occupation army at the hands of those resisting them. He supported the Algerian resistance in its bitter battle against French occupation which cost a million lives and he supported the FLN who conducted the most bitter, unremitting, unrelenting military struggle which would be today be described and was then by the French described as terrorist.

And when Ahmed Ben Bella, the leader of the Algerian revolution, was asked why he was placing bombs in baby carriages and leaving them in the soot to explode amongst the French forces and their collaborators, he answered, “if the French will give us some of their helicopters, some of their aero planes, we will give them our baby carriages.”

Isn’t that the same situation today that Mr. Hitchens’ friends are the ones with all the Tomahawks, all the Apaches, isn’t it odd that they should chose as the names of their weapons, the totems of the native American population that they mercilessly massacred in centuries gone by?

The Iraqi people have only themselves with which to fight this foreign occupation. This hypocrite crying tears for the American army in Iraq, supported the struggle of the Vietnamese people from the first to the last as they killed 58,000 American soldiers in Vietnam. He opposed the American war in Vietnam and supported those fighting against it. Today, he supports the American occupation of Iraq and seeks to slander those fighting against it.

Now there are al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, who’s fault is that? Who brought them there? Who brought them there? How did they end up in Iraq? There were no al-Qaeda in Iraq before Bush and Blair attacked it, and now every Islamist in the world…

Is either on his way, or dreaming of being on his way, descending like spores of anthrax on the gaping wounds in Iraq created by your war. And I’ll tell you what, they’ll then spill around the world, spreading their jihad, exactly as his new, or rather old friends, in Afghanistan, did.

The Arab Afghans who were sent by the American administration to Afghanistan in the 1980s became al-Qaeda in the 1990s and into the 21st century. 

Mr. Hitchens’ policy has succeeded in making 10,000 new bin Ladens. He and his friends…

CH: Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to do it.

GG: Have deepened the swamp of hatred out of which these Islamist fundamentalists are climbing. Somebody laughs, you may think that those aero planes in this city on 9-11 came out of a clear blue sky. I believe they emerged out of a swamp of hatred created by us. I believe that by their unending, bottomless and total support for general Sharon’s crimes against the Palestinian people, the United States…

I don’t think you’re new friends are quite as keen on the Palestinians as you once were, Christopher. I believe that by propping up, by propping up the puppet presidents and the corrupt kings who rule the Muslim world almost without exception from one end to the other, western policy has created this swamp of hatred against us. 

It won’t matter, how many fly-swats we invest in, how many PATRIOT Acts we pass, how many anti-terrorist measures we pass. If you live beside a swamp, no amount of fly-swats will protect you from the monsters who will come out of that swamp.

We have to drain that swamp by stopping that support for Sharon’s Israel, his apartheid war, his crimes against the Palestinians.

Not many supporters of the Palestinians in your ranks tonight Mr. Hitchens. I think unless we stop propping up these dictators in the Muslim world, none of whom who would last five minutes if it were not for the military, political and financial support of countries like yours and mine. Unless we stop invading and occupying Arab and Muslim countries, then we will be forced to endure the atrocities that took place in New York on 9-11 and in London on 7-7, over and over again.

So if I can’t reach your hearts, let me at least reach your heads in your own interests..

CH: Try their wallet.

GG: …in America’s own interests. Revert your policy towards Israel and Palestine, reverse your policy towards dictators in the Muslim world. Reverse your policy towards war and occupation and we can all be safer!

CH: Oh I had no idea. That was the appeal to the cerebellum that last bit was it?

You’ll forgive me for pausing, I was waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Now, I’m beginning to find myself a little overwhelmed by Mr. Galloway’s compliments, in the way he keeps coming up with them from. Um, it’s true he did once say of me that I was the greatest living Englishman of letters and polemicists and I was grateful.

I could have wished it wasn’t published in the newspaper, nostalgic for the rule of Brezhnev, but you take your compliments where you can, and I might add that if anything ignited the hatred and violence that has so come to preoccupy us in the Muslim world, I think it the invasion by the Soviet Union of the entire territory of Afghanistan, its virtual annexation as a country, and the certifiable and provable massacre of many tens of thousands of Afghans, as well as the insult to their religion, is probably a better candidate than the holding of a free election in Iraq, as a provocation…

But you see there’ll always be bloody fools who think, yes of course, now you look at the situation in Gaza, it makes perfect sense to commandeer a plane-load of civilians and smash it into a building full of civilians. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? I think you may have noticed Mr. Galloway, you picked the wrong city to say that in, and arguably the wrong month as well, because some of us are still mourning, some of us are still mourning.

Some of us are still mourning among other things, the very large number, the very large number, the very large number of Americans of all faiths including very many Arabs and Muslims who were killed in that disgusting atrocity.

And when you say if we don’t mend our ways this will happen to us again, if you weren’t an ally of Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad… You had not been an ally of the preachers, of the preachers of hatred and subversion in the region, how dare you say the United States supports the Assad regime in Syria?

You say that you, that I have no grief for the Bush administration in this but it seems to me bizarre that someone should say, fresh from the podium with Bashar Assad that the United States supports all the dictators in the region. What is this we have in concert for once I must say with the French, succeeded in gaining some part of the recovery of the autonomy of Lebanon, which was under…

Either a gross corrupt, and brutal, and illegal Syrian occupation. And the leader of the Lebanon Socialist Party, whose father was murdered by Assad, um, and the leader of the Lebanese Communist Party whose father was murdered last month by this Assad, and all others hailed it as a liberation, and you say it’s like the French taking over Algeria. This is piffle, sinister piffle.

The French claim in Algeria was that Algeria was part of France, Algerie Francaise. We do not say Iraq Americain, Iraq Anglais, we don’t. Let alone Ecossais which it might be, um, if certain numbers of, no, I shall block that note. Excuse me, I came very close there. Um. It’s also I think a bit much to be told that these al-Qaeda chaps, these killers and sadists and nihilists and profuse of indiscriminant explosions wouldn’t be this way if we weren’t so mean to them.

Now, it’s true some of them, Mr. Zarqawi their leader, of course, the bin Ladenist leader, was in Iraq before, was well known to have been in Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein. I can tell you that no one gets in and out of Iraq at that level without the president knowing and it’s also true that a group that’s affiliated with him, the al-Ansar Islam, a fundamentalist group, thought that its main job was to kill the Kurdish leadership in northern Iraq, they selected, it should seem to be a strange target for holy war, and it’s also true that some of them came to Iraq after we threw them out of Afghanistan.

Well, that’s easy then, leave them in control of Afghanistan, don’t mess around with these people, don’t make them angry, don’t make them mean. It’s your fault. Now this is masochism, uh, but it is being offered to you by sadists. OK.

And someone whom hasn’t answered my question, my challenge. I said in round terms when I opened that this is not just a matter of which of us can be the rudest, because I already conceded that to Mr. Galloway. Or which of us could be the most cerebral, because he has already conceded that to me. But I said that there’s a further grudge between us, which is this, I say that Mr. Galloway discussed the allocation of Oil For Food profits that stole directly from the Iraqi people, and that helped to corrupt the scheme and program of the United Nations.

I say he discussed that personally with Mr. Tariq Aziz in Baghdad, at least once, and if he will put his name to an affidavit, that formally denies that, we can have done with this business. But if he does not, it’s going to haunt him on every stop of this tour, and all the way back to England, and everywhere he goes to raise the flag of jihad in the Middle East. This I promise you, I promise you.

AG: George Galloway, five minutes.

GG: Bring me the affidavit, I’ll sign it now.

CH: Very good.

GG: It’s a complete lie. It’s a lie like the others lies on your leaflets that you were handing out like and idiot on the street before this meeting.

It’s a lie. Buy my book, if you don’t want to buy it, go to the website of the RespectCoalition.org and read it. I’ve already dealt with this, it’s a lie. Nobody every discussed oil allocations with me, not Tariq Aziz, not anybody. I’ve already said it under oath, never mind an affidavit, under oath on pain of imprisonment in front of the US Senate. That smokescreen will not wash. You want me to run through the dictatorships you’re supporting? Do you want me to run..?

CH: Yes, sure. Yeah.

GG: That is masochism. That really is masochism. You want me to run through the dictatorships? Do you want me to deal with the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, the prison state?

Do you want me to run through the family business more Corleone than Sainsbury’s that runs Kuwait?

Do you want me to run through the dictatorship in Egypt? He has the gall to claim the election in Egypt as a fruit of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq. Husni Mubarak got more votes in the so-called free election last week than he got in the election he had admitted he rigged six years previously, and you want to call that democracy.

You talk about democracy in Lebanon? Your cedar revolution? It wasn’t democracy they were demanding in the square of the cedar revolution. If there was democracy in Lebanon, sheik Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, would be the president of Lebanon. But he can’t be.

He can’t be the president of Lebanon. No Muslim can be the president of Lebanon. You’ve got to be a Christian to be the president of Lebanon. Even though only 20% of the population of Lebanon are Christians.

And how did that come about? Because the United States Marines waded ashore in Beirut in 1958 to impose that constitution on the people of Lebanon. You have the call to talk about dictatorship and democracy, Mr. Hitchens.

You’re, and you have the gall to talk about corruption in the Middle East. Your president and his father are complicit to the tune of millions and millions of pounds in the corruption of the Arabian Gulf in Saudi Arabia with the Carlyle Group, with secret Saudi investment in the failed business enterprises of George W. Bush, and you are far more Trotskyist.

Wrote in the newspapers that you were backing the re-election of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of this gang. You should be ashamed of yourself, but you’re not.

CH: But I’m not.

GG: But you’re not ashamed of yourself at all. It’s true, I praised you. You were a butterfly. You’re now a slug. You did write like an angel, but you’re now working for the Devil, and damn you and all your works.

AG: Well, that concludes the first… part of this debate. Now it will be a bit more free-wheeling, I ask you not to speak, over each other, but you can go back and forth more. I’d like you each to think of a question you’d like to ask the other. But I’d like to start by asking Christopher Hitchens, you began today by talking about, uh, the evils of Saddam Hussein.

That though was not the main argument of president Bush in invading Iraq, it was… weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda. Would you say that he engaged in a systematic campaign to deceive the American people and the world.

CH: It’s your first point, you see that it used to be said, ah well, Bush Sr. in the first Gulf War, he only cared about the removal of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, he didn’t care about the Iraqi people or the Kurds, he only pretended to. The UN resolutions only allowed him to do Kuwait, and fair enough, so whatever you do, you’re going to be accused of not giving out your full agenda.

So I don’t feel myself particularly rung by that point. In his address to the United Nations, in fact, the first address on the subject, the president did mention a full menu, as you might say, of indictment against Iraq which included, or I should say, rather the Baathist dictatorship, which included its record of genocide, its proven record of, of um, deception about weapons of mass destruction, its links with terrorism, and its violation of all the UN resolutions governing these things.

I have written that I think both Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush, um, insulted not just their own electorates, but everyone in the world, by preferring to shall we say, frighten people, uh, preferring to frighten them than to educate and enlighten them and I have written that repeatedly and I believe it very much. I think that a good cause has been greatly disfigured by that, by those political deformities.

But, if you’ll let, allow me to say so, Amy, just as I am not personally responsible for creating 100,000 al-Qaeda fighters, nor am I here as someone who can answers questions on behalf of the Bush administration, rather to the contrary. It’s a single issue question with me. I think the president was right to do what the previous president and vice-president, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, had only promised to do, and what the United States Senate had only voted to do, which was to move Iraq into the post-Saddam Hussein era.

All that was decided and repeatedly promised by the preceding administration and by the US Senate when George Bush was still a provincial governor of Texas. So I don’t think this is a subject that can be changed just by saying Dick Cheney and knowing that there are enough morons that will always boo when you say that.

Now, I’m, but you see, I’m a become a touch alarmed of the last moments or so, I’m not certain the plain meaning of words as uttered by me is being understood by the audience. Because if they understood me to say that I favored the royal family of Saudi Arabia at any point, I apologize, I’m sure I didn’t say that. If anything I said could be construed to mean it, when I said I supported Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the moral leader of the Egyptian opposition who was in Mubarak’s jail, I don’t believe I gave an endorsement of Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Galloway appears to think that anything will do.

And beneath gutter, there’s another gutter gurgling away underneath. But I would rather to debate this question on its, so to say, merits and demerits.

Now, just on this point of weaponry. If you have, as you do have in the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a regime that has used chemical and biological weapons against some of its own inhabitants in Kurdistan, against Iran, several times. That has run an elaborate method of concealment, uh, that offered to Mr. Tariq Aziz, Mr. Galloway’s best friend, I think he told the Senate Subcommittee, he said best friend or very close friend.

A man he has met 12 times, spent Christmas with, Mr. Tariq Aziz has offered, I have an affidavit on this, and we will get one from Mr. Galloway to put the two together.

The UN chief inspector for Iraq was offered two million dollars in Tariq Aziz’s office face to face, to change his inspections. We know that, we know that dummy-sites were run up for UN fools to inspect, and we know that material was buried and moved and we know that scientists were terrorized and told that their families would be lavishly killed if they cooperated with any inspection.

On this knowledge, of which I’m sorry to say I am the prisoner, I cannot not know this. Any more than I cannot not know that Saddam was trying to buy weapons off the shelf from North Korea. On the basis of this, establishable, provable knowledge, who is going to say, well let’s give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt if he says he’s not fooling around with weapons now. What responsible leader of any democracy could face his people later if that bet turned out to be wrong? And say well I had every reason to think he was on the level. Come on! Get real! Be serious on this!

AG:  Your response to Colin Powell saying that his UN speech making the case of weapons of mass destruction was a stain on his record. Just a minute response.

CH: I don’t give a damn about what Colin Powell thinks about anything. I never have, and I never will. I think he’s, I’ve noticed that he’s, having being for a long time, the most overrated public figure in the United States. He’s running for the nomination to most overrated man in the world. But I don’t really care.

AG: George Galloway, Saddam Hussein currently sits in jail. Do you think he has committed any crimes, and if so, what?

GG: Saddam Hussein committed real and serious crimes against the people of Iraq. Most of them, in the 1980s, when he was the closest friend of the United States, and Great Britain.

He invaded Iran at the behest of the United States and Britain in a war which killed a million people on either side. A war in which chemical and biological weapons were used by both sides, sold to both sides by countries like Britain, America, and West Germany.

He, he killed, he massacred Kurdish people in Halabja. I was one of those who demonstrated against it. Mr. Tony Blair, nor any of his cabinet, participated in any of those demonstrations. Because then, the Baathist regime in Iraq, against whom I was resolutely and actively involved, were the best friends and customers of the then allies United States and the United Kingdom.

Saddam created a killing field in Iraq. Like all dictatorships, see one of the Goebbelian tricks that Hitchens has performed this evening, with his little leaflet, is to try to give you the impression, in my book, I’m Not the Only One, I come out in favor of Saddam Hussein.

In fact, I denounce him in the most withering terms. But you wouldn’t get that from the leaflet that Hitchens has given out this evening. So, not only do I think that Saddam Hussein committed real and serious crimes against the Iraqi people, I said so at the time he was committing them, I was denounced for saying so at the time he was committing them, as a communist trouble-maker, disrupting the profitable relations between Iraq and Britain.

CH: Let’s see how this goes. Mr. Galloway claims that at a certain period during the 1980s he was supporting Iraqi democrats and protesting against Saddam Hussein, knowing what he was capable of, knowing what he had done, knowing the genocide for example committed in Kurdistan, and knowing of the aggressions of the chemical weaponry, that had been deployed in Iraq.

He says he knows that. I’ve had the opportunity to check with the woman, Anne Clwyd, a very distinguished member of the Labor left in the British Parliament who was the chairman of the relevant organization that campaigned for the restoration of democratic rights in Iraq. She says she has no memory of Mr. Galloway’s participation. But let’s say that we take his word for it. It means that when he went, having said that he thought that Kuwait was part of the Iraqi motherland, to greet Saddam Hussein in 1994 in Iraq, and to salute him for his courage…

GG: That’s another lie and your nose is growing.

CH: He went and to take his side again, it meant that he in foot on his own evidence, he went in full knowledge of the fact that he was dealing with a murderer, and a monster, and a dictator. So the pit of exculpation that you attempt to dig, Mr. Galloway, has just swallowed you up and the record will show it.

AG: George Galloway.

GG:  But you opposed the war in 1991 in the full knowledge of what had happened at Halabja just three years before. You’re the one who went on television, denouncing president Bush for his plan to invade and destroy the regime of Saddam Hussein. You are the one who did it.

CH: That’s true.

GG: Keep your wig on, you told Heston. Name four countries around the country of Iraq that you’re so keen to attack. You were in completely full knowledge, even better knowledge because it was even fresher, in 1991, the nature of the Saddam regime. But you were against the invasion of Iraq in 1991, presumably because you calculated that a tin pot dictatorship in one country in the Arab world was one thing. Unleashing the right of big superpowers to invade and occupy other peoples’ countries without legal authority, without judicial permission of the authorities, political and legal in the world was an even bigger danger. Even bigger danger!

I was a small fry in 1991. Nobody in America was watching me on television, as I was watching you on television in America, and cheering you for your foresightedness, for your wisdom, for your subtlety in knowing…

CH: Doesn’t get any better than this.

GG: …That sometimes in life, you have to choose between bad and badder. Sometimes in life you have to choose between evil and more evil. That’s what you did in 1991. The only difference between us is that on the road somewhere, Damascus…

I don’t know what it was, whether it was Vanity Fair, or whether it was the lucrative contracts that you’ve landed since, but somehow you decided in 2003, maybe it was the whisky, maybe it was the whisky. Somehow you decided in 2003 to take a line that was the complete opposite of the line you used to take, now you want us to gloss over that point…

CH: Not at all.

GG: You said, I can’t understand why so much of my time was devoted to this point. Were you lying then in 1991, or are you lying now? Were you wrong in ’91, or are you wrong now? If you were wrong in ’91, how should we believe you’re right now in 2005. If you are capable of such drastic, dramatic, erratic swings, from being in favor of a devastating war, to being against a devastating war, to being in favor of the liberation struggle in Algeria and Vietnam and Ireland, but against the liberation struggle now in Palestine and Iraq. If you’re capable…

CH: The liberation struggle?

GG: …dramatic, almost, if I can use the word that you used earlier, crazed shifts of opinion, how can anybody take you seriously?

AG: Christopher Hitchens.

CH: Again I worry about the plain meaning of words. I believe I said earlier that I held a different view at the time and have since changed it. My articles and statements against the war and my reports from Iraq and its neighbors at the time are all available in a book published by Verso called, uh, this one is called, For the Sake of Argument.

And um, I haven’t repudiated them, it’s that I no longer hold to them. I was unpersuaded in the following manner, I was unpersuaded in the following manner…

GG: I don’t have an education to work that one out.

CH: I was unpersuaded in the following manner. I ended the war, I ended the war in northern Iraq, where I saw what the real consequences of Saddam Hussein’s rule had been. I knew something about it, there’s no question, but I wasn’t prepared to be told by so many people, that in their view, the American intervention had saved their lives and the lives of their families. And I hadn’t got a clever anti-war argument to make to that point, and I began a process of re-examination of which I can’t really say, or be expected to say, that I’m ashamed.

You’re right I had some fun at the expense of Charlton Heston, I mean I can remember it too. When I asked him what the neighboring countries were, he said Bahrain, which is of course an island.  And it was all good sport, and I’m not ashamed of any of that either, but there comes a point where you’ve got to be a little more serious.

Now the fact is that there was no invasion by George Bush of Iraq, nor was there any UN mandate to do so, I’m talking about 1991, it wasn’t an invasion of Iraq, it was an expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait by a coalition which included even Syria.

Now if Mr. Assad can change his mind on this, and um, I can, um, and many other people too. I suppose we’ll have to congratulate you on being absolutely 100% consistent in your support for unmentionable thugs and criminals.

AG: What about the issue of timetable withdrawing from Iraq, or withdrawing immediately, or not withdrawing. Let me first put the question to George Galloway, what do you think needs to happen today?

GG: Well Mr. Hitchens says that you have no intention of an Iraq Americana. Well, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, the chances are it probably is a duck. And down on the ground in Iraq, it doesn’t look much like the United States is planning to leave of their own volition. After all, they are building massive, and what they hope to be, permanent military bases to station their forces there.

They have engineered a puppet regime which they intend to allow to be a kind of lipstick on the ugly face of their occupation. Which will allow their corporate friends, do I really need to mention them, do I need to name them? Do I really need to? I mean they probably got supporters in the hall.

Christopher’s new best friends, Bechtel and Halliburton. And all these robber barons, these vulture capitalists, who’re cutting Iraq like a shawarma, stealing the American peoples’ money, stealing the Iraqi peoples’ money. Do you think they’re planning on going home any time soon, of their own volition?

Think Halliburton intends to leave? Do you think their plans to force the privatization of all of Iraq’s industries and services are because they intend to allow Iraq to be free? Do you think they’re forcing of the Iraqi farmers to buy patented seeds so that they will be forever in debt to the agri-business companies of the United States is because they ever allow, intend to allow Iraq to be free? They intend, if they can, to have an Iraq Americana, but the Iraqis have decided otherwise. And that’s what you can’t stand, that’s what you can’t stand.

You see. You slander the Iraqi resistance as being foreign fighters, I have to laugh at this term, foreign fighters. Eh? Which part of Iraq is general Myers from? Which part of Iraq are the British and American generals from? The most foreign fighters in Iraq are wearing British and American uniforms in Iraq. But the idea, the idea, that the Iraqi resistance are foreigners or Islamists, fundamentalists, is denied now even by the testimony of the United States generals themselves.

Hitchens is clinging to an argument which has even been abandoned by the United States generals themselves. Only 6%, according to the United States government, of prisoners taken from amongst the Iraqi resistance have been foreigners, if Arabs from neighboring Arab countries can be called foreigners by a government in the United States of America.

That means that 94% of them are Iraqis, now you should know better, you see we were told in Vietnam that if, if only the red Chinese and the Soviet Union would stop meddling in Vietnam, there would be no Vietnamese resistance.

They couldn’t bear to concede that the Vietnamese people were prepared to fight them with their teeth if necessary, to rid their country of foreign domination. They’ve told us in every single anti-colonial struggle, that it was foreign interference, it was the reds, or its the Islamists from outside, if only we could extirpate them.

Kerpow the man in a turban with a beard in the Tora Bora, or his lieutenant, Zarqawi, who it turns out actually fell out with bin Laden a very long time ago, according to the excellent rebuttal of Mr. Hitchens’ ten points by professor Juan Cole of Michigan University, available on the internet to anyone who wants to read. A man even more cerebral than Christopher Hitchens. This slander of the Iraqi resistance is self-deluding.

You’re fooling yourselves if you believe it, because if you believe it, you must believe that if only you could seal the borders a bit more, if only you could get rid of the foreign fighters, then everything would be rosy, everything would be hunky-dory. This is a level of self-delusion which borders frankly on the racist. The vast majority of the people of Iraq are against the American and British occupation of their country. Your own friend, Coburn, writing from Iraq recently, said so. The vast majority of Iraqis want this occupation to end.

AG: George.

GG: And the vast majority of those fighting to bring it to and end, are Iraqis. Get used to it, get over it, understand it, or you’re fooling yourselves.

AG: George Galloway with one word, do you think the US and British forces should be withdrawn immediately?

GG: Yes

AG: Christopher Hitchens, when do you think the US troops should leave Iraq?

CH: I think I can be as precise, but perhaps not as terse as Mr. Galloway on this point. Um, I should thank him by the way, for eliciting, or allowing, allowing me to elicit, or you perhaps ladies and gentleman to elicit from him, what I feared, but didn’t hope, but in other words a full declaration of support for the campaign of sabotage, and murder, and beheading that has taken the lives of great journalists, that demolished the offices of the United Nations.

GG: Are there no depths to which you will not sink?

CH: Demolished the offices of the United Nations and the Red Cross…

GG: Are there any depths to which you will not sink?

CH: Shot down, shot down senior clerics outside their places of worship and continues as a campaign of mayhem to this day.

GG: Are there no depths to which you will not sink? You’ve fallen out of the gutter into the sewer.

CH: You might all care to remember that you are being televised, ladies and gentleman. I trust your mothers are not watching. You’re shouting at me down so I can answer the question. You’re unclear on the concept. Um, I will proceed if I’m allowed to. But I’m just reminding you, you’re on telly, OK? Just hope your friends and relatives aren’t watching.

Now, a campaign, a campaign, a campaign of mayhem and sabotage that was most obviously directed, here’s where I wanted to move to my point, in February last, against the only attempt that Iraq has ever seen to hold a national election to provide a parliament, a constitution, and an elected government. Now, what are the odds, do you think, that those who are blowing up the offices of the UN, and who recently shot down a senior Sunni cleric in Baghdad because he too wants an end to the occupation, but he asked his congregation to vote in the upcoming elections.

What are the odds that these people represent the secret silent majority in Iraq, as say the FLN did in Algeria? Um, well, let’s just do some simple, relatively simple arithmetic. In the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq, there is really not a single sympathizer either of the Baath party or of al-Qaeda, it can be taken as a certainty. That’s we know that at least 20% of the population considers this resistance to be a fascist pest and have committed their heroic armed forces, because there is a rebel army in Iraq.

There is a peoples’ army, there is a guerilla force in Iraq, it is called the Peshmurga, it’s the peoples’ liberation army of Palestine, and it fights on our side. And we, at last, because Mr. Galloway is right, that our policy in the past has been heinous, we at last fight on their side too, excellent.

Now, very well. Moving right along. It is admitted, I don’t think it’s even denied by the egregious figure of professor Cole, um, who’s never set foot in the region, though claims to speak Farsi and various other languages. I don’t believe it’s denied even by him, and he changes his mind on these things about once a week. That ayatollah Sistani, grand ayatollah Sistani, is considered by the majority of the Iraqi Shia to be, let’s say, that’s their spiritual leader.

If it had been up to grand ayatollah Sistani, and if you’re right, if it had been up to my advice too. Mr. Paul Bremer would have had to call elections much earlier than he did and so he should have done, and make a transfer of sovereignty much sooner than he did and so he should have done. But we have no reason to doubt that the forces that favor this transition to a federal democratic system in Iraq where no one group rules by violence or terror, or by dictatorship.

Where there’s federal and local autonomy and where disputes are not settled by violence, is favored by the latent majority of the Iraqi people. Because if that’s not so, it’s very easy for them to participate in the vote, and what they do instead is they try and sabotage it.

I think it’s a very eloquent campaign that’s being run by Mr. Galloway’s heroic resistance now, to stop these elections from happening. To speak to the people, the terrified people who’ve been through 3.5 decades of war and fascism and terror and never given them a moment to breathe, never give them a moment’s freedom from fear and intimidation.

Shame on the people, shame on the people who call this a liberation movement.

AG: Christopher Hitchens, what about the cost of this war at home? I’ve just come from New Orleans. Um, across the political spectrum you’re hearing more and more dissent and criticism of what’s happening in Iraq because of what didn’t happen in New Orleans. The lack of National Guard in Mississippi and Louisiana, the uh, weapons, rather, the vehicles that were needed that weren’t there. So two questions on that, what about the cost here at home, um, with the hurricane Katrina and the lack of response?

And if the, we see clearly, because the reporters are unimbedded here, the troops weren’t in New Orleans, and they really presented the pictures, we see clearly the way the US responded here in terms of rebuilding or not, what makes you think the US is any better in Iraq?

CH: Well. I would caution people from adopting a zero sum mentality in this respect. I had the opportunity to speak with a close associate of lieutenant general Steve Blum, some time ago and he said that he had, before the situation became as dire as it did, had been able to call up the Secretary of Defense and say ,”I have 200,000 troops you can have any time.”

But the question is where’s the order going to come from? The president can’t, as you know, Amy, cannot order American troops into action in a state of the union. He has to be asked by the governor for this to happen, and the governor has to admit…

Well I’m sorry, it’s in the Constitution, it is in the Constitution.

GG: He sent troops to Iraq.

CH: Unless you want, unless you want to invoke the Insurrection Act, which hasn’t been, I think, invoked since the Civil War. So the fact of the matter is there were more than enough soldiers, they just weren’t given the orders in time. And that’s a matter for you, but as soon as they made their appearance, didn’t everything start to look a lot better? Aren’t you proud of general Honore?

Are you not proud that, that a man born into, that a man born into segregation and discrimination, is leading really hard, professional, tough, generous, brave men and women in uniform for the recovery of New Orleans?

And all this time has a son in Fallujah, and seems to think he can manage both? I think it’s hugely to the credit of the United States Armed Forces that they would consider it ignoble to abandon their commitments in Sadr City and in Halabja, and elsewhere. Ignoble, and parochial, and provincial.

Now, Mr. Galloway came a little near the knuckle a moment ago, and I decided to overlook it. He said what I was said was bordering on racist. I really feel I’m entitled to ask him to withdraw that imputation, I think that’s an opprobrious thing to say. But I will have to add, that for people to start pumping out propaganda before the bodies have even been uncovered in New Orleans saying, and to make points, demagogic often, they wouldn’t be dead if they weren’t black. But people haven’t been identified yet, whose parents don’t know where they are.

And to say this wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t wasting money on Arabs? That, that is an appeal to the most base, provincial, isolationist, and chauvinist mentality.

GG: I’m so glad Mr. Hitchens gave that answer, you see, this is where it ends, isn’t it? You start off being the liberal mouthpiece of one of the most reactionary governments this country has ever seen on the subject of war. You say you’ve got your own liberal reasons for doing so, and you end up an apologist and a mouthpiece for those miserable, malevolent incompetents who couldn’t even pick up the bodies of their own citizens in New Orleans in the aftermath of a hurricane.

That’s where it ends. You end up, you end up a mouthpiece and an apologist for the Bush family whose matriarch, you want to talk about racism? What about Barbara Bush? What about Barbara Bush who took a look at the poor, huddled, masses in the Astrodome and told us they’d never had it so good?

Who told us they were better off than they’d ever been. Underprivileged people, now in an Astrodome, the only problem with whom she said was that so many of them wanted to stay in Texas. You know, Hitchens, you’re a court jester. You’re a court jester.

Not a, not at Camelot, like other ridiculous other former liberals before you, but at the court of the Bourbon Bushes. Barbara Bush, the Marie Antoinette of modern-day American politics.

CH: Well I think I have to say a quick word, Amy if I may, this is all good knock-about stuff, but um. I must say Mrs. Bush Sr. does reminds me of, I think it was Lady Diana Cooper, who was once stopped outside Claridge’s Hotel in London as she was waiting under the umbrella for the Daimler be brought around after the ball.

Ragged man approached her and said, “Mam,” he said, “I haven’t eaten for three days.” She said, “Well you’re very foolish then, you must try. If necessary, you must force yourself if necessary.” It’s called a tumbrel remark in some circles.

Yes, I don’t know where the Marie Antoinette cake shop was in the Astrodome, but I if you notice, I didn’t say that I defended the president’s record on this, and I have written very critically about it already for all of you to read in Slate magazine. What I will not have said, what I will not have said, is that we should go to a refugee woman in Biloxi and say to her, “Do you realize the Arabs have stolen the money that should have come for you?” And we have no, we have no right to put the poor against each other in that way, and betray our internationalism.

And we have no right whatever, to, to, to, to insult, to insult the tremendous performance of the United States Armed Forces once they are put into action. And I will add one more thing, the 82nd Airborne and the 1st Air Cavalry, so far from being distracted by Iraq, have learned in Iraq matters of civil reconstruction, water-distribution, purification, culture. That have been extremely useful to them in New Orleans.

The case, the case. Don’t, I will advise you not to jeer these men and women while you’re being televised, ladies and gentleman. I would advise you not to do it.

The shame is yours, I’m awfully sorry. I meant to have said that before, in any case. Yes, and we will bring Sadr City back too, and we will rebuild Halabja, yes we will. And not only that, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Army Corps of Engineers has just finished building a new extension of the Kabul to Khandahar highway in Afghanistan.

That’s what the Army Corps of Engineers do. Which means that, the journeys between several major cities in Afghanistan, which used to takes days over rocky and dangerous roads, are now much easier. And a triumph of humanism has occurred. If I was a less patient person I would get the impression that someone was trying to shut me up here. Don’t even think about it.

What I say doesn’t require your endorsement and isn’t drowned by your zoo-noises because I’m on C-SPAN now, and all they can hear is you baying. That can make me out alright, so just give it up, OK? Simmer down. Or let me put it like this, it takes a bit more than that, takes a bit more than that, tough guys and gals, to shut me up as well. Now, you might, the word warlord is quite often used when talking about Afghanistan, which is a country we haven’t talked about enough.

Where as I say, the Taliban would still be in power if the anti-war movement’s advice had been heeded. What is a warlord? A warlord is someone who can control a piece of road by force, who can with a few brigandages roll a rock into that road and say you don’t pass without paying tribute to me. A warlord is one of the seedbeds of the swamp that Mr. Galloway describes that breeds terrorism. If you can build solid, wide roads that directly connect the cities, you abolish brigandagen warlordrly. Are you in favor of abandoning Afghanistan to warlordage and brigandry again?

GG: You already have. That’s exactly what happened.

CH: Anything is better than imperialism right? Well…

GG: The warlords are ruling Afghanistan.

CH: Consider carefully what you may be… Consider carefully what you may be demanding. I think it is a most excellent use of our Army Corps of Engineers to help liberate Afghanistan and its neighbors from that kind of tyranny. I also think, perhaps it would be ignoble to add this, it is not without a dimension that involves our own self-interest because we do indeed know the swamp from which the enemy first came.

And this is what it means to drain it, that and swatting the mosquitoes, half to a hat, killing them, in other words, poisoning them, putting them down, knowing an enemy when we see one, treating an enemy like an enemy, recognizing that we have a deadly foe, not surrendering. Not surrendering at the invitation of a courtier of sadists.

I’m not a member of the Bush entourage. I’ve never appeared on a public platform with a dictator, I never have and I never will. I couldn’t face you if I had that on my record. It must be some sordid kind of displaced guilt that makes Mr. Galloway want to throw out accusations like this. I’ve never done that, and to come fresh from embracing these blood-stained bastards and to say to you that it’s your fault that these people hate you. It’s more than we should be expected to take.

AG: Uh. Before, before you each give your closing five minutes, I wanted to ask each of you, Christopher Hitchens and then I’ll ask you a question about the media George Galloway. But Christopher Hitchens, as you’ve changed your views over time, do you feel that the media is friendlier to you?

CH: No I have, I was a columnist for say Vanity Fair where most of my readers follow my stuff. Before I resigned from the Nation for example, and I still, as it were get that job back quitting the Nation, um, I have a feeling I know the imputation of what you’re saying. But, I would think I probably wouldn’t be the best judge in my own cause.

I can see the editor of the Nation magazine sitting in the front row, I’d feel fairly confident that if you asked him he would not say that I left the Nation in order to improve my salary prospects, but um. And I frankly think that’s a bit a waste of a question.

Plainly, plainly, if the impression I give is of someone who is mercenary and actually bad at handling money as that, it’s an impression I wouldn’t be able to correct by denying it.

GG: That was a bad waste of an answer.

Well I don’t know about you Amy, but I’m beginning to think this debate is running out of steam, a little.

CH: Yes I have the same impression.

GG: If, if Mr. Hitchens agrees, it might be that we should begin to think about winding it up without further ado. I see some of the audience are leaving. The hour is late, and I think we’ve generated about as much light as we’re going to, and as much heat as we ought to.

GG: Because uh, Mr. Hitchens is right, I’m certainly no pacifist. And neither is he. And we probably oughten’t to get any more belligerent towards each other than we have already.

CH: Don’t worry about that.

GG: But if I still have the mic, uh, I would just like to say that this issue of whether the Iraq war was necessary and just or not, is one which is already being adjudicated upon by the people who are watching on C-SPAN, by the people who’ll read these proceedings this evening, in their opinion polls, in their comments of all kinds.

There are very, very few friends left of the argument Mr. Hitchens has put, of course on the far shores of the crazed right-wing neo-con circles in the United States, he’s a new hero. But amongst the mainstream majority, and amongst those with whom Mr. Hitchens used to travel, this subject is already adjudged. You see the Elysian Fields that he seeks to conjure up in his depiction of Iraq. Today, simply don’t dare any resemblance to the situation we all see on our television screens and read about in our newspapers every day.

The situation’s not getting better in Iraq, it’s getting worse. Religious fundamentalism, to which he is so opposed, has been put in power in Iraq by the invasion of Bush and Blair. The grand ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, of whom Mr. Hitchens, it’s a very bizarre Trotskyist friend of the grand ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, that he speaks so approvingly of now, is the ruling power in Iraq and believe me he is an Islamic fundamentalist. Believe me, he wants to ensure that the people who live under his view follow every dot and comma of the Islamic fundamentalist, uh, agenda.

And I warned you to be careful of what you wish for, because if either the United States, or its friend, Israel, attacks Iran in the next period over the issue of nuclear power, Iran will answer in Iraq. And they will answer above all in the south of Iraq where the grand ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is top-dog thanks to your friends Bush and Blair. Extremism has not been dampened down by this war, it has been fantastically enhanced. The number of people who hate us has not been reduced, but has been greatly enlarged.

The confidence of people in their own governments and their own political systems in the belligerent countries has not been enhanced, it has been substantially undermined. The ability of the international legal and political system to operate as a means of resolving disputes has not been enhanced by this affair but has been fatally undermined by it.

This is a disaster, this war on Iraq. When the French statesman Talleyrand was told by an aide of the murder of a political opponent, the aide said, “It’s a terrible crime sir,” and Talleyrand answered, “It’s worse than a crime, it’s a blunder.”

This attack on Iraq and its subsequent occupation is a crime yes, but it’s worse than a crime, it’s a blunder, it’s a blunder that’s made us all more insecure. It’s a blunder that has destabilized the world, multiplied our enemies, it has few friends left, and you will regard yourselves as having been privileged in years to come, that you were able to witness the ridiculous spectacle of this popinjay who continues to support it.

AG: Christopher Hitchens, your final five minutes.

CH: Well I do share Mr. Galloway’s feeling that our debate, our exchange might have been passed the point of being pointful. I can’t object to being called a popinjay since the principal definition is that of a target for archery and shot. Which I dare say I have brought upon myself and certainly feel well earned in Mr. Galloway’s case. I will just have to say, since even from the chair there was a question about my motive in this, and I think I can describe it fairly simply.

It was rather fairly put in fact by my great antagonist Harold Meyerson, editor of the American Prospect in a recent article. He said, “Mr. Hitchens’ motivation for being involved in this appears to be his old friendship and solidarity with the secular Iraqi Kurdish left forces.” Well that’s nice, because just for once someone’s got it right how it was that I made some new friends, didn’t lose the old ones unless they wanted to desert me, but I will tell you that some of the admirers of the MoveOn.org world that I may have lost are well worth it in exchange for the comrades I have made.

And once Mr. Galloway may have enough in his memory as a socialist, the name that he has come to disgrace so gravely, so horribly, to remember that if you take a position of solidarity with your comrades, you take it win or lose, up or down. You don’t say, “Well, I’m sorry comrades, brothers and sisters, I’m going to have to desert you now.”

Because they might say, “Well why’s that?” And I might have say, have to tell them, “Well, because Michael Moore said so” or “Because Cindy says so” or because someone’s offered me some Oil For Food money to do so, and I’m not going to do it.

You would be, you would have more to be proud of, ladies and gentleman, if you could after tonight, point to something that you have done to help build up the new Iraq. Point to something that you were doing to help the Iraqi women’s organizations who indeed do have to combat fundamentalism. Point to something you had done to help unearth the mass graves, and console the relatives of those who are found in them.

Point to something you had yourselves contributed to the emancipation of Kurdistan. You could do something perhaps something to help the new Iraqi press and media acquire some more modern equipment on which to conduct this debate. Why don’t you think of the possible nobility of that alternative? Because to offer your solidarity instead to the 154 operations that are sabotaging…

GG: 45.

CH: …this fine process, is to be, is to be, I think, hopelessly covered in shame in something you’ll look back on, uh, with real regret. It’s not too late, there are many, many, many outlets for your, for your compassion, your energy, your internationalism. Many Iraqis are crying out for your help, don’t appear, do not, do not appear, do not appear to be deaf on a point as important as this, and with that, that’s the end of my pro bono bit.

From now on if you want to talk to me, you’ll need a receipt and I’ll be sitting selling books because this is after all, America. Thank you so much for coming.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

Why should the common people be targeted to suffer from economic sanctions?

All politically motivated economic and financial sanctions on weaker States, labelled  “rogue States” by the western powers for political reasons, ended up subjecting the common people to hell of miseries, famine, health degradation, high infantile mortality, reduction of the number of educated people, minors integrated to the workforce...and decades of pains and suffering trying to get out of an infernal situation that never reaches any adequate resolution…

Think of Iraq after 1992 as Saddam Hussein circles were supposed to suffer from economic embargoes, and the Iraqis experiencing two million deaths, mostly among babies for lack of milk and essential medical medicine and equipment…

Saddam and his retinue kept purchasing BMW, building humongous palaces, and never lacking any item of luxury, and maintaining a huge army and security forces…

Think of North Korea where millions are dying of famine and the dictator and his oligarchy importing every luxury items from China and Germany…

Think of Iran, with inflation reaching 50% on foodstuff, and revenue dwindling, and social services curtailed…so that Israel and Saudi Arabia be satisfied that “economic pressures” are making a dent on the program of peaceful atomic energy self-sufficiency…

Think of Venezuela and Cuba…

Think of the Syrians at the receiving end from both the regime and the western financial and economic sanctions…

No, these sanctions are not meant for degrading a political regime, but strategically to weaken the potential capability of an entire nation that is trying to regain economic self-sufficiency and be totally at the beck and commands of the superpowers…

On March 02, 2012, Djilali Belaid and Talal El-Atrache published their opinion on “Ordinary Syrians hit by sanctions-fueled price hikes

Agence France Presse
People walk through Hamidiya popular market in Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday Feb. 28, 2012. (AP/Bassem Tellawi)
People walk through Hamidiya popular market in Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday Feb. 28, 2012. (AP/Bassem Tellawi)

DAMASCUS: In Medhat Pasha souq, a bustling market in central Damascus, Fahed is deeply troubled by the “disastrous” price hikes and collapse of the local currency that are choking ordinary Syrians.

Western and Arab countries, outraged by the deadly government crackdown on an 11-month uprising, have imposed economic sanctions on the regime of President Bashar Assad, but the heaviest toll is on the Syrian people.

A 32-year-old clothes vendor said: “Since the start of the crisis, there has been a huge rise in prices. This is a disaster that touches everyone all over the country. The poor are getting hit, and even the rich are facing difficulties.

It is really unbelievable. The price of one kilo of locally manufactured cotton has gone from 400 to 550 Syrian pounds ($5.70 to $7.80), a kilo of sugar, which was worth 50 pounds (70 cents), today sells for nearly 73 pounds ($1), and vegetable oil has gone up 50%.

“We are spared nothing. The price of a gas cylinder has jumped by 60 percent. The poor really cannot cope…”

Syria’s banking system and oil exports have been hit by rounds of sanctions, dealing a heavy blow to foreign exchange earnings and stoking inflation.

And later on Friday, EU leaders are expected to tighten the noose on Assad’s regime with fresh sanctions.

Nidal, a 29-year-old taxi driver, waits patiently in a long queue at a petrol station in Damascus’s Tahrir Square. He says: “Twenty litres of petrol today costs 1,000 pounds ($14.30), compared with 800 pounds ($11.40) before the crisis.”

The slide in the value of the pound has crippled purchasing power. The dollar, which traded at 46.50 pounds a year ago, today buying 74 pounds, representing a fall of 62 percent for the pound.

Jihad Yazigi, editor-in-chief of The Syria Report, said: “Inflation has shot up. The official rate rose from 5% in November to 11 percent in December. It is partly the result of the strong dollar, but also of supply problems, because many products come from the flash point regions of Homs and Hama,”

To prevent the pound from plunging still further, the government has raised customs duties on several consumer goods, risking a further inflationary shock.

Under a decree issued last month, import tax rose from 40 to 80%, the government daily Tishrin said on Wednesday. This applies to 39 food items, as well as electrical appliances, beauty and hygiene products, kitchen utensils, water tanks and paint.

The daily Tishrin warned, citing economists, that the measure would “encourage the smuggling of goods from neighboring countries, causing losses for the state and a rise in prices on the Syrian market.”

The government is also pursuing other options to overcome the barrage of sanctions, including barter agreements with “friendly” countries such as Russia, China and Venezuela.

Syria could exchange its crude oil for sugar, a key commodity in the local market, other agricultural products and manufactured goods, which usually require hard currency.

“But the countries with which such trade is possible are limited, as they have to accept this type of exchange and have something to sell that Syria needs.  There is no doubt that the sanctions imposed on Syria touch the population first of all. Are they having an impact on the regime? It’s an open question,” Yazigi notes.

“The Syrian people are suffering a political crisis, a very difficult security situation, and economic conditions which were already deteriorating before sanctions struck. But today those sanctions are lumbering them with an additional burden.”

Funny that the worst rogue States such as Saudi Arabia and Israel that have been financing, supplying, and training al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalists have never been sanctioned…

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Mar-02/165309-ordinary-syrians-hit-by-sanctions-fuelled-price-hikes.ashx#ixzz1nyVowTKS
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Iran and Syria:  A difficult 30 years alliance; (Apr. 20, 2010)

            Almost every day, news media analyze the alliance between Syria and Iran.  Since the Iranian nuclear program was launched, the western media and the so-called “moderate” Sunni Arab dictators and monarchs’ media would like to witness any kinds of rift in the alliance, sort of an illusion made to sound a reality anytime soon: they would also like to relieve Israel of a “psychological” nuisance that Islamic countries can also own nuclear capability if they set their mind to it. 

            Actually, there are no lack of brain power and money for Egypt, Syria, or Saudi Arabia to fulfill this project if the Arab League was up to its name.  The USA and Europe are actively working to destabilizing Iran and threatening harsher economical embargo so that Iran desist “manipulating” the dangerous products, even for civilian use such as hospital and generating electricity.  So far, Iran is within the boundaries of Atomic Energy Agency guidelines; that is why the UN is unable to threaten strong arm interventions.

            Syria’s Baath Party tried to re-unite with Iraq’s Baath branch and then have strategic alliance between the two States in 1979 but Saddam Hussein foiled the attempt of Syria Hafez Assad.  Iran of the Shah was the strongest ally to the US and Israel; Saddam Hussein went along with the Shah’s policies in partitioning the water passageway (Shat al Arab) and the Kurdistan problems.  When Khomeini revolution succeeded then Syria allied with the new Islamic regime and still is, even during the devastating 8 years war between Iraq and Iran.

            In the Near East (for example, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria), Iran needs the alliance with Syria more than any other States because Syria can put the squeeze on the US and Israel if conditions deteriorates.  In global politics, especially securing veto powers of China and Russia in the UN, Syria badly need the heavy weight of Iran to circumvent any economical embargoes or blockades on Syria and also for securing military credits and hardware.  In the last two decades, Syria wooed Turkey and managed to establish one of the closest alliances in the region.  As long as Turkey lacks the requisite caliber to weight on Russia and China in the UN as Iran can, then Syria has no option but to put more eggs in Iran’s basket.

            Syria has assimilated the idiom: “Never put all your eggs in one basket” and is not about to change this strategic policy. This article focuses on the deal between Iran and Syria on Lebanon. Iran grasped early on that the fundamental strategy of Syria is: “Syria military strategy is one with Lebanon”.  Thus, Hezbollah may resume its political leaning toward Iran but in no situation should Hezbollah undertake any military activities without prior consent of Syria and complete coordination with Syria.  The other deal is that the other Chiaa political faction of AMAL should share equally, if not a bit more than Hezbollah, in the parliament, government, municipality, and civil administrations. AMAL is headed by Nabih Berry, over 30 years as head of the Lebanese Parliament, and was created by late Iranian Imam Moussa Sadr in 1972 who was assassinated in Libya in 1983. AMAL is the main political party totally at the beck of Syria instructions; thus, when any Lebanese file or problem is turned exclusively to Nabih Berry for consideration then it means that the resolution is in the hands of Syria.

            Currently, the most urgent demand of Syria on Lebanon’s government is to let go of the International Court investigating the assassination of late Rafic Harri PM in 2005. Syria knows that this Court was created as a political weapon by the US to pressure Syria into political concessions. After 5 years of heavy political pressures on Syria, now the Court is turning the weapon on Hezbollah.  Syria knows that targeting Hezbollah is implicitly targeting Syria. The international political usage of this Court has to end and very soon or Lebanon will suffer great instability if Saad Hariri PM keeps his uncertain position and refuses to step down.  Most probably, another Prime Minister ready to bring the International Court to Lebanon’s jurisdiction would be selected. Fact is, France declined to resume financing the Court; a signal that France no longer sees any benefit of the Court to its current policies in the Near East.

Cycle of life orf Hostages; (Apr. 14, 2010)

French reporter Philippe Rochot published “Within Islam’s revolts” that describes his reporting jobs in many countries (over 40 States) most of them in conflict and civil wars.  Rochot had visited Lebanon many times for reporting purposes before and during the civil war.

In 1985, against his best judgment, he agreed to revisit Lebanon to report on a new French hostage Michel Seurat.  It was a period when sympathizers of Khomeini were on the ascendance.

France of President Mitterrand had sided squarely with Saddam Hussein of Iraq against Iran and shipped all kinds of fighter jets and sophisticated armaments to Iraq (Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were guarantors for the open credits of war materials).  This war  lasted 8 years leaving a million casualties on both sides and many millions of seriously injured handicapped persons.

Rochot was kidnapped in Lebanon in 1985 for 8 months and a long chapter describes his captivity.

Rochot writes:

“My life cycle revolved around two bottles: one bottle for drinking and the other one to urinate in.

I was chained to a radiator and allowed to piss once every 10 hours. I was not given a razor to shave and the length of my mustaches was a serious handicap for eating the fast food of hamburger kind.  I ended up pulling out the hair one by one; it was a painful act but efficacious.

My long beard reminded me of my reporting assignment in Afghanistan in 1980 when I purposely had to grow a beard to blend nicely with the people. I got into the habit of smoothing down my beard.”

Every 10 days, the abductors would bring a newer set of cloths; mainly sweat pants and T-shirts. (Probably the kidnappers had no washing machines or didn’t feel obligated to washing prisoners’ cloths).

Once, a “designated” photographer took pictures of the captive to dispatch to the French Embassy and the original cloths were dumped in front of Philippe to wear for the occasion. He was permitted to write a single line to his wife and two daughters “I am in good health”.

There was no correspondence or any kinds of messages arriving from the outside.  Occasionally, radio was brought in for specific events.  When Ronald Reagan of the US bombed Libya two British hostages were killed: The US bombers crossed Britain airspace.

It seemed as if the kidnappers in direct contact with the hostages had a day job: they showed up at nightfall for the night task of watching over the prisoners; sort of gaining extra money to make ends meet.

Rochot dreaded most to fall sick. Many captives died out of sickness because the kidnapping faction had no official links with a hospital or any kinds of health practitioner.

One night, the area of captivity was bombed and one of the militia was injured.  Rochot could hear the injured person in the next room and the kidnappers were at a loss what to do with their comrade.  For example, hostage Michel Seurat died of liver cancer in captivity; the kidnappers claimed to have killed him in retaliation for some kind of France political position.  Seurat was moved to another room to cry out his pains and sufferings.

The other French captive could hear Seurat moaning all the time for many weeks before death relieved Michel. (Probably, the kidnapping faction was not addicted to drugs as the Christian militias were, or it had not the means for purchasing drugs to relieve Seurat from his pains).

Radical Islam: the critical decade (1977-1989); (October 11, 2009)

 

            Sadate of Egypt visited Jerusalem in 1977 and spoke at the Knesset and sighed a peace treaty with Israel.  The Arab and Islamic world is angry.  The Arab League rejected Egypt as member for ten years. The Moslem Brotherhood movement in Egypt stopped cooperating with Sadate and an extremist faction proclaimed “Takfir wa Hejrat” which means repentance and refuge from the urban centers and isolation into communities for the Moslems abiding by the Charia. 

            The religious dogma of Sayyed Qotb whom Nasser had hanged in 1966 resurfaced with acute power.  Qotb was studying in the USA and returned to preach that Islam has been weakened because it has forgotten the notion of “Jihad” and is cooperating with the infidels the “monafikeen” or hypocrites whom the Prophet Muhammad lambasted for being ready to rally with the Jews or to returning to “Jahiliya”; thus, Qotb encouraged Jihad against the Moslems consorting with the policies and traditions of the infidels.

            A retired Palace Guard in Saudi Arabia, Juhaiman Otaibi, got wind of the message of “Takfir wa Hejra” and started Friday preaches in that vein: He warned the Moslems that 1979 is the 15th century of the Moslem Hijra and that the most awaited Mahdi is coming to unite Islam.  A Yemenite from Assir, Abdallah Kahtani, who broke up from his master Ben Baz (still the formal actual cleric to the Saudi Kingdom), became the theologian for Otaibi.  The Egyptian Muhammad Elyas joined forces and the recruits of these three leaders invaded Al Kaaba in the autumn of 1979 and captured it.  The Saudi monarch paid the French paratroopers to retaking Al Kaaba; hundreds were massacred in that fight.

            The “Royal Family” in Saudi Arabia got the message clear and loud; Saudi Arabia was slightly inching from the Dark Ages before it re-sank even further in the darkest of ages.  The two monarchs Khaled and Fahd were staunch Wahhabits and hated the Chiaa sect. The minister of the Defense was Sultan and his cadet brother Nayef was the minister of the Interior, and their half-brother Bandar from a Sudanese mother was the eternal Ambassador to the USA.  This trio had vast contacts with Sunni radical Islamic Pakistan, Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and they financed the El Qaeda; they even asked the US to dismantle their bases in Saudi Arabia in order to keep the face of radical Moslems toward the widespread feeling in the Arab and Islamic World. It is to be understood that the Saudi sovereign fund is practically cash money for the US Administrations to use when the US Senate denies any funds to the Executive branch.

            In 1977, the Islamic forces in Iran were virulent and sympathized with the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood movement.  The US, France, and Britain permitted the overseas Iranian parties against the Chah to organize and demonstrate: these three States wanted to put the squeeze on the overbearing Chah of Iran because he was leading OPEC and had increased oil prices 160% within a couple of years. I recall that during my study in Oklahoma the Iranian parties kept constant demonstrations and gathering all of 1977 until Khomeini came to power in 1979.  There were the Khomeini movement, the Islamic Moujahedeen Khalq, and the secular communist leaning Fedayeen Khalq.  What the Western powers started as a simple squeeze ended up in catastrophe: The Chah decided that the game is over and didn’t even put up a fight before the superpowers planned a counter-attack.

            In 1979, Iran of Khomeini, Syria of Hafez Assad, and President Bakr of Iraq decided on a rapprochement of Islam (Sunni and Chiaa).  Saddam Hussein was chief of security and Vice President of Bakr; Saddam hated the Chiaa and also Hafez Assad.  At the instigation of Saudi Arabia and the green light from the USA Saddam deposed Bakr and swiftly executed all the Iraqi Baath members who supported this entente; these prominent members of the Iraqi Baath were mostly Chiaa. Thus, Saddam and the Saudi monarchs joined forces to destabilize Iran of Khomeini.

 

            President Sadade was becoming a dead weight for the USA Administration; the Vice-President Housni Moubarak received the green light from the US to cooperate with the Moslem Brotherhood to eliminate Sadate. Lieutenant Islambouli, brother of Muhammad Elyas who invaded the Kaaba, shot dead Sadate during the yearly military parade.  Moubarak pleased the Moslem Brotherhood for a year and tightened the application of Charia and froze the peace treaty for a short while.

            The Saudi Monarchs financed and instigated Saddam to invade Iran in 1980. The US disturbed the electronics of a plane carrying the entire Iranian chief of staff inspecting the Khuzestan which crashed with no survivors.  After a swift advance in Khuzestan the Iraqi troops were halted, defeated, and then retreated into Iraq by 1982.  During that war Iraq received all the military logistic, support, and aerial intelligence from the USA, France, and Britain. France sold Saddam a nuclear reactor that Israel would bomb in 1983.  The US supplied Saddam with bacteriological and chemical arms of mass destruction. Iran wanted the war to continue in order to re-structure its political system and thus this insane war lasted till 1989 before Khomeini died.  The leaders of the strong Iranian movement for entente between Sunni and Chiaa were blown up during a convention; among the dead was Ayatollah Montazeri.  Rafsanjani, later to become President of Iran, hated the Sunni sect and made sure to arrive 15 minutes late to the convention: he was the right hand man of Khomeini at the time.

            With the Chah out the Soviet Union was encouraged and then sucked in militarily into Afghanistan; the same process as the US was gradually sucked in Viet Nam.  Iran of Khomeini arranged a deal with the Soviet not to interfere in the North and West of Afghanistan with Chiaa majority. Saudi Arabia recruited radical Moslem Sunnis from around the world to fight communist Soviet Union; Pakistan was the State to supply arms, logistics, and training to the Moslem “mujahideen”.

 

            As the Soviet Union was disintegrating in 1991, the US and Europe were busy with a new world order and intentionally forgot radical Islam for an entire decade.  Radical Islam got under way in organization and proliferation and performed many operational activities in Indonesia, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Chechnya, Pakistan, India, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia (the Khobar bombing of the hotel where the American aviators had residence) to end up with the 9/11/ 2001 attack on the Twin Towers.  During the decade, after the dismantlement of Russia, the US Administrations toned down every terrorist’s activities to its public opinion in order to focus on world financial domination and the restructuring of Europe.

Genesis of the word Arab; (September 4, 2009)

The ancient Akkadian Empire in current southern Iraq, around the years 2,000 BC, used the word Aribi to designate the nomads exchanging incense, myrrh, and precious stones with the urban centers in the kingdom.

People have the tendency to lump all kinds of nomadic tribes as a uniform way of rough life and scarce food varieties. There are caravansary tribes transporting goods, and there are tribes paid to secure borders and trade routes.  There are cold weather nomads and hot climate nomads. I’ll write more on that topic in another post.

The major nomadic tribes or “bedwins, bedouin” were hired by merchants and the central government of the existing Empires to safeguard the main land trade routes.

The powerful tribes of current Yemen in the southern region of the Arabic Peninsula had exclusivity in raising camels and dispatching caravans to many directions. Thus, the job of many nomadic tribes was to roam a restricted area and have their encampments close to the resting stations on the trade routes.

In period of wars, and as trade dwindled, the nomads made incursions in the nearby urban centers and looted to survive. Thus, this enmity and bad connotations attributed to the bedwins. It is in that perspective that we could comprehend the harsh description of the historian/sociology Tunisian Arabic Ibn Khaldoun (15th century) concerning the behavior and characteristics of Arabs, meaning the tribes still adopting the nomadic lifestyle.

Those nomadic tribes transported their precious cargo by land on camel caravans.  There were vast land networks for the caravans.

In the eastern shores of the Arabic Peninsula of Hadramout, by the Indian Ocean, the city of Shabwa was a major center for incense warehousing.  Incense is a white product that is collected from special trees (Boswelia sacra) that grow from Hadramawt to Zafar in actual Yemen.

Caravans start at Shabwa and travel to Ma3in along the coastal Red Sea.  From the town of Ma3in the route fork to either north or west.  The northern route passes through Maarib and then Najran toward the port of Gerrha on the Persian/Arab Gulf for the Persia and Iraq markets.

The western route passes by Timna (the ancient Capital of Yemen), continues to Yathreb (known as Medina), then Petra in Jordan and resumes the trip toward Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Roman historian Pline recounts that there were 65 halts between Timna and Gaza. Gaza was the major depot for all kinds of incense, myrrh, and precious stones.  Alexander was about to lift his siege of Gaza when a side door to the impregnable fort was opened following a minor struggles outside the rampart.  Alexander troops entered the fort and he sent all the incense that his superstitious mother needed to burn for her Gods.

Another main trade route was known as “The King route” crossing Syria to the port of Aqaba on the Red Sea. The Jewish tribes would be hired to keep this route safe from minor nomadic clans.  Later, there would be established the “Silk Road” from China to Persia to Turkey to Venice and Europe.

Another varieties of nomadic tribes from Central Asia, bordering the Persian Empires extending from Turkey to west India, would be safeguarding this major and long route.

Maritime routes from India were also used, but they ended in the eastern shores of the Arabic Peninsula or in the southern shores of Iran at the entrance of the Gulf to be transported by land.

So far, archaeology has discovered the word Arab in a text during the reign of the Assyrian King Salmanassar III. The document of 853 BC describes the King’s victory in Tell Karkar in the valley of the Orontes River (Al 3assi, Syria) against a coalition of the Kings of Damascus, Hama, Achab, Israel, and the Arab Gindibu with his one thousand camels.

Gindibu’s tribe had settled in the southern desert of Syria.  Camels were used by archers who dismounted at close range for the fight.  The Assyrian Kingdom with capital in northern Iraq (mostly Kurdish districts now) had replaced the Kingdom of Babylon and had subjugated many Arab tribes in the north of the Arabic Peninsula.

The nomadic tribes had Matriarchal structure and their priestesses (such as Zabibeh, Samsi, and many other priestesses) were called Queens by the Assyrian Empire.  The Assyrian documents prove that the Arab tribes were disseminated along the “King Road” and even in northern Syria.

The Hebrew word of “Arabah” means desert. Thus arabah meant tribes leading a nomadic life in desert-like regions.  The tribes in the southern regions of the Arabic Peninsula such as Yemen never considered themselves as Arabs.

The word Arab in Yemenite documents of the second century AC refers to people not urbanized or living off agriculture; it is the same meaning that the Prophet Muhammad used.

The Arab Nabatean tribe with capital in Petra (Jordan) controlled the “King Road” for over two centuries; they spoke an Arabic dialect but wrote in Aramaic.

In about 140 BC, the southern Jewish tribes of Palestine, led by the Maccabe, established a Kingdom that lasted over a century.  The Maccabe Kingdom during John Hyrcan conquered the southern part of Jordan and most of Palestine, including the Galilee region.  John Hyrcan converted to Judaism and by the sword all the inhabitants of his Kingdom. The people were to be circumcised and follow the Judaic rituals and laws of the Jewish sect in Judea.

That is why Jesus was not considered a “true” Jew by the Pharisee cast in Jerusalem.  Most Arab tribes in that region were converted to Judaism and many settled in Yathreb (Medina) to control the caravan route going to Gaza.

Note 1: The word Aribi, transformed into Arab, meant “the neighbors” (to the Kingdom).  In fact the nomadic tribes were spread along the borders of the Kingdoms of Akkad and later the Kingdom of Babylon.  Nowadays, each one of the Arab States has its Arab “neighbors” and it has no confidence in the friendship intention of their neighbors.

Note 2: There is a myth that I don’t care about, but is all the rage in theology and affecting religious dogmas.  It is recounted that Noah had Sem who was head of the tribe Terah; Sem (Semitic race?) had three sons: Abraham was the eldest, Nehor, and Aran (Arian race?).

Abraham had his eldest son Ismail from his “Egyptian slave” Agar; he also had Isaac from his “legitimate” wife Sarah.

The Muslims consider Abraham as their first prophet and “father” and are entitled to all the “legitimate” legacies of God; the Jews would like you to believe that legitimacy is inherited from Sarah’s legitimacy.  That is how I understand it.

Note 3: Arab does not designate any kinds of ethnicity. It is the ability to write and understand classical Arabic language or the Arab dialect that was spoken in the City of Mecca (imposed by the Prophet as the language of his religion) that forms the basis to be categorized an Arab.  Indeed, Muhammad said it that every religion has its own language and vice versa since all monotheist religions are fundamentally the same.  Moslems around the world have the Arabic Koran as common denominators but the translation of the Koran into the appropriate local languages will generate as many Islamic sects as there are major languages.

Note 4: The Aramaic language was the language of the Middle East for over 3,000 years; it was spoken by the people of all Empires in that region from current Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western part of Iran known as Ilam in ancient history or (Arabestan for late Saddam Hussein regime).  Aramaic is the root language of Arabic; the Arab nomads spoke several Arabic dialects but wrote in Aramaic as all the urban centers in the Middle East.

Note 5: The Omayyad dynasty, founded by Moawiyah, selected Damascus for the Capital of the Arab Empire and the people in the Near East spoke Aramaic as well as most of the “Arabic” tribes that settled in and around the urban centers of Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon. If there is an Arab civilization then it was created during the Umayyad period since the people in that part of the Near East could comprehend and write Aramaic.  The classical Arabic language was established and spread during the Umayyad dynasty.

Note 6: For the Arab Nations (about 22 States) to exist in the future they have to mind their classical language and enrich it with various modern “Arabic” slang words and expressions to be viable among the Arab people.

Imaginary Certitudes (May 6, 2009)

  

The US republican notion of capitalism is plainly discredited; communism was discredited since 1989; the doctrine of the Christian religion was discredited since the French Revolution in 1787 and a century before that but religion cannot be eradicated from the spirit of the masses.  The power of religion is that you don’t need to apply or fear to be ex-communicated whether you are a believer or not or whether your opinions are not compatible with the predominant ideology.  Religion exercises its legitimacy once it combines the doctrines of “communism” for equal opportunities and the aspiration for independence against a usurper.  That is what extremist Islam has managed to package its ideology; an ideology targeting the poor and disinherited who were deprived of dignity and were humiliated by the western powers.

Let me resume my previous article on “Misleading Legitimacies“.  Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt managed to capture legitimacy in the emotions and spirit of the Arab populations as the leader of the Arab World by politically defeating the joint military attack by Britain, France, and Israel in 1956 to recapture the Suez Canal.  The Arab populations were satisfied that their crushed dignity for over 5 centuries was re-emerging among the nations (the western nations).  Even the crushing military defeat by tiny Zionist Israel in 1967 maintained Gamal Abdel Nasser as the legitimate leader and most of the Arab State leaders converged to him to resolving their conflicts with their neighbors or within their State.

After the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser (The Raiyess) in 1970 the goal of Arab leaders was to re-capture Arab legitimacy.  The successor of the (Raiyess) in Egypt was Sadate who needed to rely on the legitimacy of the “Moslem Brotherhood” to strengthen his power and thus proclaimed to be “The First of the Believers (among Moslems)”.  All the Arab leaders realized that legitimacy reside in convincing victories against common enemies to the “Arabs”, or mainly any western nation and Israel the closest geographically.  The initial victory in 1973 on the Sinai front against Israel was cancelled out by bedding with the USA and “My Dear Friend Henry (Kissinger)” Sadate was hated by most Arabs and no one shed a tear when he was assassinated.

Dictator Saddam Hussein enjoyed potentials in literate population, large army, and natural resources; he jumped at the occasion when the USA encouraged him to invade Iran of Khomeini.  This time, the enemy was the Persians who had re-captured lands that the Arab and Ottoman Empires had secured centuries ago and called “Arabstan” or Khuzestan. After 8 years of mutual slaughtering in the battle field Saddam Hussein reverted to its neighboring “Arab” State of Kuwait and was vanquished by the USA, the arch enemy of the Arabs.  Saddam lost his legitimacy. 

Saudi Arabia’s successive monarchs endeavored to gain legitimacy in the Arab World through building thousands of mosques, appointing clerics who favored the Wahhabit sect, and lavishing petro-dollars for settling conflicts among the Arab States.  Saudi Arabia has been working for the long term by proselytizing their conservative extremist Wahhabit sect among the Sunni Moslems and gaining legitimacy by proclaiming that they are the “Servitors or Guardians of the Holy Kaaba and Medina (al Haramine)”

 

The progress in Europe was established indirectly by a centralized Papal spiritual authority.   Ironically, this spiritual centralization was acquired when the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine supposedly converted to Christianity.  Christianity could have evolved without any serious centralization if it was not ordered by the Roman ideological system of centralized power.  Hundreds of Christian sects existed in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, and throughout the Roman Empire before the year 325; they were persecuted as “heretics” after the conclave of Nicee in 325.  Papal Rome hindered progress and change vigorously for long period but once society expressed its willingness for change then it followed suit and even staunchly maintained the changes and supported them against any refracting bishop or religious Christian sects.  Centralized Papal Rome was a counterbalance to the tyranny of temporary authorities who had to compromise and rectify policies that challenged the dignity and well being of the poor citizens.  

Islam had no such centralized spiritual authority; it viewed with suspicion any kinds of religious centralization; it didn’t appreciate mediators between the believer and his God.  Thus, the political sultans and sovereigns dominated the religious spiritual power; in most instances the monarch grabbed the legitimacy of caliph. Thus, the counterbalance to tyranny lacked in the Moslem world and any recognized cleric, ordered by a sultan, could proclaim a “fatwa” or an injunction for the people to obey as a religious obligation.  You could have several “fatwas” concurrently injuncting opposing orders.

The problem in Islam is not in the source or the Koran but the free interpretations of any monarch or leader at any period.  There are no stable and steady spiritual legitimacy in any interpretations that can be changed or neglected at other periods.

 

The author Amine Maaluf recounts this story” A Moslem woman applies in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) for a private club that would allow Moslem women to meet and maybe share common hot baths with sauna and Jacuzzi (hammam). A week later the municipality rejected the application on ground that the local Moslem cleric (Imam) had an objection to the club” If the woman was European would the municipality ask the opinion of a Christian cleric? It would certainly not. 

What this story proves is that, under the good intentions of respecting ethnic minorities, the European are exercising covert apartheid; they are sending the message that minority rights are not covered by the UN declarations which are supposed to be valid for all human kinds.  The human rights approved by all States within the UN convention are applicable to all regardless of color, religion, sex, or origin.  What is fundamentally needed is that all States feel that the United Nation is a credible institution that is not dominated by veto power super nations and that it has effective executive power to enforce its human rights proclamations to all world citizens and political concepts.

 

Note: The theme was extracted from Amine Maalouf’s book “Le Dereglement du Monde”


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