Royal Holloway has a history of hosting talks and debates lead by reputable and respected politicians and public intellectuals. It is a shame that Wednesday’s performance from Mr. Galloway could not be one of them. Mr. Galloway managed to grace us with his usual insipid rhetorical babble of the illegalities of the Iraq War and military intervention in the Middle East. He even managed to squeeze in the odd Bush and Blair joke after every other point. I would hate to call Mr. Galloway cheap in his humour; perhaps ‘inexpensive’ would be more polite. Yet the inconsistencies and fatal flaws of his premise show that despite the monotony of the ‘Bush IQ’ jokes, he is the one who should be embarrassed by the sheer fatuity of some of his comments.
Of course, the dominating subject of the talk was the NATO intervention in Iraq. Mr. Galloway continued the well-rehearsed spiel of how British and American troops had subjected the Iraqi people to over a decade of death and devastation, that our only – and I emphasise Mr. Galloway’s comment of ‘only’ – cause for intervention was the lies of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Galloway naturally played on the supposedly non-existent weapons. The degree to which Hussein hid or destroyed his weapons and more importantly his production facilities is still contested in the post-war political arena. However, where Mr. Galloway’s argument falls is his premise that this was the ‘only’ reason produced in order to legitimise British involvement in the region.
Prior to the liberation of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had established what Kanan Makiya has described as ‘The Republic of Fear’. Through his construction of military, party, police and militia security forces, Hussein executed systematic surveillance, torture and execution of the population he enslaved. To gain some idea of the horror of this regime, one simply has to read the reports and accounts of the atrocities committed against the Iraqi people. Read of those who had cigarette butts extinguished on their eyeballs, those who received electric shocks to their genitals, those who had their faces mutilated in order to show who had dissented against the government and those who where gang-raped by the Hussein family’s henchmen.
Mr. Galloway is quite right in stating that since NATO’s involvement in Iraq, numerous innocent civilians have died. Yet such is the horror of war. What we cannot allow, is for the anti-war movement to hijack the names of the innocent dead in order to push their own political agenda.
After the talk I was asked to briefly interview Mr. Galloway for The Founder. Fortunately I can report that Mr. Galloway and I did not swap contact details and most certainly will not be meeting again voluntarily. Yet what was revealing about this short discussion with him was his view that the deaths sustained during the conflict where in no way recompensed by the fact that Iraq is now a democratic and increasingly stable country. What is now the semi-autonomous nation of Kurdistan can be seen to be prospering under the new found freedom from the genocidal acts that have passed along with Hussein, as are many other parts of the liberated Iraq. The only troublesome areas left are, surprisingly enough, those which border our other enemies, Syria and Iran, both of which Mr. Galloway would be happy for us to crawl into bed with in exactly the same way Blair did with Gaddafi.
This leads us to one of Mr. Galloway’s most bizarre and ludicrous suggestions. During our informal chat I rebutted his criticism of NATO’s assistance of the rebel forces in Libya on purely financial grounds. I asked whether or not he felt that human life was of a greater value than money, to which he replied ‘No’. I pressed further and asked whether or not that the fact that the people Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and countless others are being tyrannically oppressed, tortured and killed in criticising their respective governments, provides Britain with a moral duty to intervene and stop this constant flouting of international law and human ethics. Again, Mr. Galloway’s response was ‘No’.
Unfortunately I am physically unable to fully justify these conflicts in a mere few hundred words. Yet I hope that it has become quite clear, that the anti-war movement finds itself guilty of hypocrisy to such a degree that for the west to intervene and liberate nations where its people are calling for peace, liberty and democracy, we are the cruel and heartless aggressors. Yet those tyrannical despots of the Middle East and indeed other areas of the world should remain free to commit the ultimate crimes against humanity, to strip people of their autonomy, their liberty and even their lives.