What it means to be pro-Iraq war and anti-Iraq war was brought into crystal clear relief two nights ago in a nationally broadcast debate from New York City between writer Christopher Hitchens and British MP George Galloway. It was not a good night for neo-libs. Hitchens, a writer and lecturer with long and deep ties to the socialist left, calmly, humorously at times and with scholarship, spoke of the coalition and Iraqi forces struggle against Baathists and Al-Queda as a battle against the real imperialists and fascists. He spoke of Sharia law that would be imposed in an Al-Queda Iraqi state. He spoke of Casey Sheehan who was murdered while assisting his comrades in restoring water to Sadr City by the very people his mother would later acquit. He talked candidly about his own change of heart from 1991 to the present having seen for himself in Kurdistan the wasteland Saddam left there. He pointed out the politicizing of so-called facts, the now discredited figure of "100,000 people killed by coalition forces." Saying "you are no longer allowed to mention Iraq and WMDs in the same sentence," he cut through the rhetoric by pointing out Saddam's clear maneuvering to acquire these weapons, his extensively and indelibly documented use of them and the fact that these actions had made Iraq, prior to the war, a virtual "ward of the international community." He asked the audience to consider how anyone would want to be taken seriously making statements to the effect that imported murderers are "freedom-fighters." And, exposing himself with candor for his opposition to the Gulf War (I was also among those who opposed that war and it seems these days having a mind open enough to reassess one's views is a war crime) he stated that had the anti-War movement of the last 15 years gotten its way, murdering regimes in not just Iraq but in the Balkans and Rwanda would have expanded their efforts at liquidating neighboring states as well as their own people.
For his part George Galloway could only speak of the past.(I should say he could only shout of the past since he spent most of his time extolling at the high end of the VU meter) He talked about America's arming of Iraq. He talked of America's "imperialist" march into Lebanon in 1958. He invoked the names Cheney and Rumsfeld as well as Bush Sr. as the real, historic culprits. He time and again used the anti-War manual for meekly acknowledging the horror of mid-east fascism while declaiming its root causes. To that end, he claimed 9/11 was some kind of logical reaction, as if fascists are people that can be reasoned with. (Hitchens tried to tell him New york City wasn't the best place to say something like that) He resorted to faux indignation. When Hitchens pointed out that the Johns Hopkins report on the so-called 100,000 killed in Iraq was, by its writers own admission, faulty and inconclusive, Galloway retorted that Hitchens was calling the academicians of Johns Hopkins "fabricators," saying it with an almost wide-eyed astonishment. He also had to be continuously reminded that the war in '91 was not against Iraq proper but it's invasion of Kuwait, a war given international sanction and support.
For me, the knockout came early when Hitchens told the assembled that, recently, Galloway had stood with the dictator of Syria, Assad, and praised his support of the insurgents in Iraq. Galloway then traveled to America to give comfort to Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed by the very people he had just given approbation to. The audience was stunned for a split second before some of the idiots actually started booing Hitchens. The truth hurts.
I listened to the stream at kpftx.org but it was a little out of sequence. However, there are a great many links to be found. CSPAN2 will air it Saturday night at 7.p.m. central (that's tonight boys and girls).