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Last updated on July 24th, 2017 at 12:50 pm
George Galloway was widely judged (by leftoids) to have won his debate against Christopher Hitchens. The latter wonders, quite justifiably, why:
Obviously I am suspect as a juror in my own cause, but put yourself the following hypothetical case. Mr A challenges Mr B, saying that he appears on the available evidence to be a handmaiden to dictators and a recipient of their hospitality. Mr B replies that Mr A is a piece of ordure, or some other unmentionable substance. The riposte is hailed as a tremendous piece of repartee, as well as a full and complete answer to the challenge. Perhaps my own professional journalistic colleagues do not wish to seem to favour one of their own, but I have always had difficulty in seeing the pith or brilliance of this.
Here’s the initial slab of debate (courtesy of Sexion) wherein Hitchens defends the notion that the March 2003 war in Iraq was necessary and just. It’s an edited slab (edited by me). All insults have been removed; also removed (although not so much that context is destroyed) are extraneous comments, crowd interjections, byplay, etc, that some might see as not directly related to or arising from Iraq in 2003 (AG = moderator Amy Goodman):
CH: If you examine the record of the so-called 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.
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.
Iraq had lost its sovereignty as far as a state can do under international law. There are four conditions under which a state may be deemed or said to have sacrificed its sovereignty. These are: if it participates in regular aggressions against neighboring states or occupations of their territory; if it violates all the letter and spirit of the terms of the nonpre, pre, excuse me, the non-proliferation treaty, and in other words, fools around promiscuously with the illegal acquisition of weapons of mass destruction; third, 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 fourth, 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. Uh, its people were being starved in order to build palaces for their psychopathic dictator.
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.
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.
Um, a constitution, a federal democratic constitution, is being debated now as we speak with the printing of five million copies of the original document. Debated on six television channels, six, and perhaps as many as a hundred newspapers.
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. Um, 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.
And then the spread, no less important, of the democratic impulse within the region.
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.
AG: George Galloway, your response.
GG: 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. [Hitchens] can’t bring himself to mention the massacre in Tal Afar over the last four 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.
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.
Our two countries are the biggest rogue states in the world today. And 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: How can someone say they’re anti-war and they care about casualties that they praise the 154 operations a day? 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. 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. 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?
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.
Iraq is not being occupied by president Talabani, president Talabani was born there. 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 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.
AG: Ten minutes, George Galloway.
GG: The Iraqi people have only themselves with which to fight this foreign occupation. This hypocrite … 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.
Mr. Hitchens’ policy has succeeded in making 10,000 new bin Ladens. He and his friends have deepened the swamp of hatred out of which these Islamist fundamentalists are climbing.
AG: Christopher Hitchens, five minutes.
CH: 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.
AG: George Galloway, five minutes.
AG: Well, that concludes the first part of this debate.
Matters degrade from there. The winner, in terms of arguments presented, seems pretty obvious.