Transcript – George Galloway’s September 19, 2005 speech in Chicago

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George Galloway, Member of the British Parliament, spoke on September 19, 2005 at Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern University Law School, Chicago, IL as part of a national tour sponsored by The New Press, The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, International Socialist Review, and the National Council of Arab Americans. Loretta Capeheart, Ph.D., introduced the speakers and served as moderator. Preceding Mr. Galloway were Bill Davis, Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Ahmed Shawki, Editor of International Socialist Review and a board member of the National Council of Arab Americans; and Sabah Khan, a student and member of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) chapter at University of Illinois at Chicago. CAN collected donations for hurricane relief that a group of students took to the Gulf States.

[To ensure accuracy, any quotes from the transcript text must be compared with the audio of his speech. Please see Traprock’s webpage on the Chicago talk to download the audio programs of the speech, the question and answer session, and the introductory remarks by the above named speakers.]

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Thank you very much. Chair, brothers and sisters, thank you very much for that wonderful welcome and the introductory speakers who set the scene for this meeting so very ably. I want to start off this evening by telling you what I’m not here to do before telling you what I am.

I’m not here, and I make this point, especially as my name is George *laughter*, I’m not here to re-colonize you. *laughter and applause* I’m not here to tell you Britain knows best, though, of course, we were an imperial power for rather longer *laughter* than you have yet been, and, I hope, longer than you will be. I come from a long line of anti-imperialist parents and grandparents. I am of Irish background, and we’ve always hated the British Empire, always. *laughter and applause* In fact, I remember very well coming home from school once and telling my Irish grandfather that the teacher had said that British had an empire so vast that, upon it, the sun never set, and my grandfather answered, “that’s because God would never trust the English in the dark.” *laughter and applause* I’ve never had cause to doubt him about that. He did say “English.” He was very clear about English, not Scottish or Welsh. And the second thing I’m not here to do is evince some of my critics. I’ve just been on Fox TV with Bill O’Reilly. *laughter* Unfortunately, I wasn’t live because I had a few things up my sleeve about Bill O’Reilly. *laughter* But I’d better not go to that bathroom humor in a mixed audience. But for Bill O’Reilly and people like him, somebody like me is driven by what they call (well, he doesn’t call because he doesn’t use big words) visceral anti-Americanism. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am probably the only man who can say that he is the great grandson of almost certainly the only woman in the entire 19th century who emigrated from America to Scotland *laughter* at a time when thousands were sailing in the opposite direction. I think she got on the wrong boat, as a matter of fact, but, if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here, so there is nothing anti-American about me or anything I have to say this evening. Neither are we against the troops. I saw somebody with a t-shirt last night outside the meeting, 25 of them in a mass demonstration of neo-cons outside the University of Wisconsin. She was wearing a t-shirt, “we love the troops.” Well, we love the troops. That’s why we don’t want any more of them to be killed or to kill other people on a pack of lies from George W. Bush. *applause* After all, who are the troops? The troops are, in your country and mine, conscripted by unemployment, low wages, poor prospects, racism, recruiting sergeants in the high schools and in the car parks of the shopping malls, mopping up on the dissatisfaction with the lives which so many people in industrial and post-industrial Britain and America suffer. How could we want those troops to be harmed? They are our children, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our school friends, and, as I hear the Vietnam veterans say, “isn’t it always the way that those sent in to fight in these wars are not the sons or daughters of those who have most to gain from those wars?” Somebody once said war is a thing where there’s a worker on both ends of a gun. That’s why we say we love the troops so much. We’re demanding their immediate withdrawal from harm’s way in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and wherever else Bush and Blair have sent them. *applause*

And the other thing Bill O’Reilly put to me, and I wish he’d come along to all my meetings, it would be good to have him in the front row shouting these things *laughter*, it gets the blood coursing in the veins, that I had said, he said, that America had brought 9/11 upon itself. Well, let me say what I did say. Not just in the United States but in the British Parliament, and not just now but four days after 9/11, when the House of Commons was recalled to discuss this criminal act of mass murder which killed thousands of innocent people. I said, you’ll forgive me quoting myself, I said “it may appear that these airplanes came out of a clear blue sky, but I believe that these monsters emerged from a deep swamp of hatred and bitterness and enmity which exists against us all over the world but particularly in the Muslim world because of the policies of injustice that we have visited upon them for so many years.” Now I have a responsibility to say that because I know that to be true, as someone who has spent more than thirty years closely involved with the Muslim world and the Arab world in particular. I have seen that swamp. I have walked around the edges of that swamp. I knew that it was there before 9/11, and I knew that something like 9/11 was a disaster waiting to happen. And I was criticized for saying it in New York, but I believe that political honesty requires me to say the same thing whichever city I’m in, whichever country I’m in whatever time it is, because the truth has to be told and has to be understood. *applause* We have to say, you know, people say *something inaudible from the crowd*, I didn’t catch that, but let me infer what it might have been. And my apologies if it was a supportive shout. You see, Bill O’Reilly and the crazed fanatics like him, they want to hang Bin Laden around our necks. Bin Laden has nothing to do with us. Bin Laden was invented by the United States of America and by Great Britain *applause* and by the countries which gave him weapons and money. As I started quoting myself, let me finish quoting myself from ten years or more earlier. On the eve of the fall of Kabul to Bin Laden and the so-called Mujahidin had been armed and financed and bankrolled in every way, including politically and democratically, by the United States and Great Britain. I said to Mrs. Thatcher and Parliament, “you have opened the gates for the barbarians, and a long dark night will now descend upon the people of Afghanistan. They are the people that took Bin Laden into Afghanistan, and then they massacred the people of Afghanistan for having Bin Laden in their midst. How unjust is that?” I heard Mrs. Bush Jr. (I’m going to come back to Mrs. Bush Sr. in a few minutes) and Mrs. Blair on a radio broadcast synchronized swimming in the grief of the anniversary of 9/11, and they asked us never to forget the heart-breaking messages of farewell and love left by those American women on those planes from their mobile telephones on the answering machines of their loved ones at home. They asked us never to forget it as if we could. But, as I said at the time, just because Afghan women don’t have mobile telephones, and their loved ones don’t have answering machines, it doesn’t make their deaths delivered from the sky any less obscene than the deaths of those American women on 9/11. *applause* But, as I looked around, the faces of the powerful men (mainly men) in the British Parliament whom I was addressing, I could read from their face that that truth which to us is self-evident was not evident to them at all. You see, we have to face the fact for the powerful people who rule the world, the blood of some people is more valuable than the blood of others. The blood of Americans is more valuable than the blood of Afghans. The blood of Israelis is more valuable than the blood of Palestinians. And the blood of Europeans is more valuable than the blood of Iraqis. That’s a self-evident truth. There’s nobody holding a minute of silence for the dead in Afghanistan. There’s nobody even counting the dead in Iraq. As Powell, I think it was, said, “we can’t be expected to count dead Iraqis.” And, though this self-evident truth may not be burnt on the minds of a majority of our countrymen, believe me, there’s not a Muslim in the whole world that doesn’t know the double standards that we have on this subject. They know that their blood is worth less than ours, at least to us. And this is one of the things which waters the swamp of hatred that I’m talking about.

People asked me in that debate in Parliament and many times since, “well, what would you do? What would you have done?” The first thing I said is, whatever we do, it must make our position better rather than worse. If we handle this the wrong way, we’ll create ten thousand new Bin Ladens. *applause* But if you ask me, if you press me to explain how we got here. Here’s what I have to say. You have to, and, in the United States, I’m sorry to tell you, you, more than anybody, have to grasp this simple truth, that the floor of the heart of the crisis between east and west, between the Muslim world and the rest, is the half-century or more of injustice visited upon the Palestinian people paid for, organized, and armed by the United States of America. *applause* There’s no getting away from that point. There’s really no getting away from that. You see, most people in the west hardly give a second’s thought to the Palestinian people, but Muslims think of Palestine almost every day. They think of Jerusalem, where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the roof of al-Aksa. They know that Jerusalem and al-Aksa is in the hands of foreign fighters who came from Brooklyn or London or Paris, who talk to the CNN news in an American accent, talking about the fact that God promised them this spot several thousand years before like some kind of estate agent. *laughter* You saw them. You saw these settlers at Gaza having to be prized out of their luxury homes. They did get a quarter of a million dollars compensation, a point that was rarely made in the newscasts: a quarter of a million dollars each compensation. But we were being asked by the news to be grateful to General Sharon for giving a quarter of a million dollars to people from Brooklyn who were illegally occupying somebody else’s land since 1967. *applause* Seven thousand settlers occupying one third of the territory of the Gaza Strip, the most densely populated place on Earth, with one and a half million Palestinians occupying the other two thirds. Seven thousand settlers consuming 30% of the water in Gaza, one and a half million Palestinians, most of them living in the most ransid refugee camps, unimaginable unless you’ve been there, in some cases decade after decade, generation after generation. And when I watched as I did in agonizing detail the story of the evacuation of Gaza, I learned all over again the double standard that infuses this whole question and which may leave most people in the west unmoved but which makes the blood of all Muslims boil. General Sharon, to whom we must be grateful, is a man with form. Last week was the 23rd anniversary of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. When thousands of Palestinian refugees, undefended, unarmed men of pension age, women and children, were butchered by the besieging Israeli forces and their Lebanese falangist, fascist allies, there were no men to defend them in the camps because the men had sailed away from the harbor of Beirut for Tunisia and . .. beyond. They have done so under international guarantee, a signed guarantee from the ambassador of the United States of America that the families they left behind would be protected, but no sooner had the ships sailed when these wolves fell upon the undefended refugees, who were an international responsibility, and massacred. Who was in charge of the operation? Who was literally standing at the gates of the refugee camps, literally standing there at the gates? The defense minister of Menachem Begin’s government, General Ariel Sharon, the same General Ariel Sharon for whom the red carpet was rolled out in New York at the United Nations last week, and we were asked to congratulate him all over again for his sagacity in the Gaza Strip. Now when I’m talking about Sharon, I mean, I know he’s seen differently in some parts of the world. I mean, I heard George Bush describing him as a man of peace. Even Sharon doesn’t consider himself to be a man of peace. *laughter* But George Bush thinks he’s a man of peace. *applause*

My friend, my comrade Ron McKay, sitting in the front row who works with me, we met in 1977, nearly thirty years ago in the Sabra and Shatila camps, and, together, a few years ago, we visited another refugee camp, this time in occupied Palestine, called Jenin, two days after the massacre there. It was still smoking, still smoldering. The dead lay unburied under the crushed masonry. The camp, one square mile in which ten thousand families had lived for fifty years. This camp is a particular poignant example of the Palestinian tragedy because, for those refugees who still had a roof, if they climbed up onto it, they could literally see the shining city of Haifa on the sea, and every one of those refugees came from that city of Haifa. So, for fifty years, they’ve lived in a rat-infested refugee camp within sight of their own houses, their own gardens, their own orange trees being picked by people from London, from Paris, from Brooklyn. Can you imagine the torture that that represents? And then there were massacres by General Sharon’s government, and the United Nations Security Council unusually held an emergency meeting on a Saturday and passed a resolution. I’m not making this next bit up. The resolution called for Israel to allow inspectors to check reports of mass destruction of the lives of refugees in the camp at Jenin, and Sharon answered, “get stuffed. There are no United Nations inspectors coming in here.” And the United Nations promptly got stuffed, packed their suitcases, went home, and nothing was ever said about the matter again. This double standard may have escaped the notice of most people in the west, but it didn’t escape the notice of a single Muslim anywhere in the world. Not a single one. *applause*

Now the second thing I answered that needs to be done, if we’re going to drain that swamp of the hatred that produced that kind of monstrosity that occurred here on 9/11, occurred later on 7/7 in London, occurred in Madrid and many other places, is that we have to cease our policy of propping up virtually every puppet president and corrupt king who rules the Muslim world from one end to the other. Every one of these dictators. *applause* Again, you know, Bill O’Reilly was real shocked at that point. Who, us? Are you talking to us? I tell them, didn’t you see the funeral of somebody who calls himself King Fahd? Didn’t you see all the western leaders descending on one of the grimmest prison states in all the world, where women are not allowed to drive, where they may not set foot outside their door unless accompanied by a male relative, where nobody has ever voted for anything ever in the whole history of the country, when you can’t even elect the secretary of a fishing club unless it becomes contagious? This idea of elections, a country ruled by a tyrant king where they chop off peoples’ heads in public on Friday afternoons, their blood spurting into the sand for the encouragement or the discouragement of the others, a country run by a kleptocracy whose purpose is to loot the wealth of their own country, loot it and spend it in the casinos, in the bordellos, in the arms bazaars, in the stock market and banks and speculation enterprises of western countries? Do you know that Saudi Arabia thinks it has six trillion dollars in American banks and in the American stock exchange? Of course, it only thinks that it has that money because, if it ever dreamt of withdrawing it, it would be confiscated overnight by any government of the United States. So, in fact, this money does not even belong to them, let alone belong to their country from whom it was looted. And all these western leaders descended on Riyadh. None of them breathed a word about democracy or liberty or freedom of any kind. They were there to kiss the nose, as a prelude to kissing somewhere else, of the tyrant who took the place of the tyrant they were laying in his grave. And so what do you think Arab Muslims, Muslims around the world think when they hear George Bush talking about democracy and liberty, when they see him? He may have been going to collect his father’s latest check. George Bush Sr. has earned at least 10 million dollars from his involvement with the Carlisle Group’s handling of the wealth of the kleptocrats of the House of Saud. And John Major, the former British Prime Minister, is catching up. He’s made two million. But he is a considerably younger man with longer to go. Anybody think the United States really wants democracy in Saudi Arabia? You’ve only got to state that question, pose it in order to answer it. If there was a democratically elected government in Saudi Arabia, the first thing it would do is to close the American bases in Saudi Arabia. Try and get at least some of their money back, and start investing it in their own country, which has seen income per capita drop from $20,000 a year 15 years ago to $7,000 a year today. And maybe even invest a bit of it in the rest of the Muslim world. Maybe even give a bit of it to the Palestinian refugees in Jenin. You’ve only got to ask the question in order to answer it. Does America really want democracy in Arabia? Fair enough. If we don’t want democracy in Arabia, that’s one thing. But don’t say you want democracy next door in Iraq but no democracy next door in Saudi Arabia. Because you’ll just seem as a liar and a hypocrite. *applause*

Let me give you another example . .. The somebody called President, at least he calls himself that, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. The United States government asks us to believe that one of the fruits of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is that there’s just been the first ever free Presidential election in Egypt. In fact, President Mubarak himself announced that this was the first free Presidential election in Egypt. Well, given that he has already served four six-year terms as President, that’s a fairly clear admission that he stole the power of the Egyptian people over the last quarter of a century. The point of this, President Mubarak got more votes in the free Presidential election than he got in the four rigged Presidential elections beforehand. I’m not making that up. Six years ago, in a rigged Presidential election which he has now told us was rigged, he got 84.8% of the vote. Not bad, I must tell you as someone who has been fighting elections all my life. I’ve been quite popular, actually. You know, I’m really pleased if I get 50% of the vote. But Hosni Mubarak got 84.8% of the vote in an election he said was rigged. And, a couple of weeks ago, in a free election, he got 88.6% of the vote of the people of Egypt. Well, if you believe that, you believe anything. And it goes without saying that, if there really was a democratically-elected government in Egypt, it would do in a week everything that must be a nightmare to United States policymakers. It would close the Israeli embassy in Cairo. It would kick out the Mossads. It would start assisting the Palestinians instead of betraying them. It would once again become the beating heart of the Arab world, showing its leadership, showing its historic importance instead of being a slave state with a puppet President who rules on behalf not of his own people but of the governments of other countries. And so, I could go on. There are so many others.

I was thinking the other day about the general. Remember him, the General. President Bush, just before he was first elected, was being interviewed on television. I don’t know if they showed it here, but it was endlessly shown to . .. the people of the world. Mr. Bush was being asked about all these foreign leaders he was going to have to deal with if he got elected as President of the United States. The interviewer asked him (it was quite bold of the interviewer, I must say), “Do you know who the leader of Pakistan is?” Bush answered, “Sure. The General.” *laughter* The interviewer said, “can you be a bit more specific, maybe a name?” And Bush thought for a moment or five, and he said, “we just call him the General.” *laughter* Don’t act so surprised. This is a man who thinks that the people who live in Kosovo are called Kosovarian. The people who live in Greece are called Greecians. He thinks that the main problem with imports in the United States is that most of them come from overseas. *laughter* So don’t act so surprised. At least Gerald Ford could chew a pretzel and walk in a straight line at the same time. *applause* But, let me tell you about the General, because the General is the leader of a country of hundreds of millions of people, moreover, who now possess nuclear weapons, a fact which doesn’t seem to have caused any consternation in the United States administration at all. They go to the ends of the Earth to stop other people even dreaming of having nuclear power, but the General, hey, he can have nuclear rockets if he likes. But the General came to power in a military coup. He seized power in a military coup. So much was this an offense against propriety that the British government immediately suspended him from the British commonwealth and put him on an arms embargo list. But that was until the day after 9/11. Then he ceased to be called the General. He started to be called the President, and then Mr. Bush then knew his name, and he gave him everything that he wanted, not because he’d become any more legitimate, any more democratic, but because he was now an important ally of Bush in his so-called war on terror.

So when the Pakistanis and the Egyptians and the Saudis and Muslims around the world hear our governments talking about democracy and liberty and human rights, they don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but more and more of them are crying. And, of the many more who are crying, some are crying tears so bitter that they’re ready now to support others who want to hurt us, want to give their lives for many of ours. And, thus, the swamp becomes deeper still.

But the third main contributory factor to the growth of this swamp I’m here to tell you went virtually unnoticed by anybody in the west because I spent the best years of my life trying to raise the alarm about the mass murder of Iraqi children under the sanctions imposed by the United States and Great Britain on the people of Iraq. *applause* It was described by a fine Democratic Party congressman, David Bonier from Michigan, as infanticide masquerading as politics. An Iraqi child was dying every six minutes of every day and night. I saw them. I saw Iraq when it was a sea of misery with nobody looking, nobody listening. I stood at the door of a labor ward in a hospital in Baghdad and listened at the door to a woman giving birth by Caesarian Section without anesthetic, and it’s a noise that haunted me every night, year after year, and drove me on in the campaign, I, and a very few others, great Americans like Kathy Kelley of Voices in the Wilderness, and very few others. I know that most people in the west didn’t care about those Iraqi children dying, but every Muslim cared about those Iraqi children dying, and they couldn’t understand why we could be so careless about those Iraqi children dying if it was not for the reason I mentioned at the beginning, that the blood of Arabs and Muslims is cheaper than the blood of other people. Because if a million children anywhere else were dying as a result of a policy being imposed by elected governments in the west, it is undoubtedly true that that policy would have come under greater attack, scrutiny, and eventually been changed. But that’s not what happened in Iraq. Instead, we moved from the slow killing of the sanctions to the hot killing of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And we have to keep restating these points because the media is determined to avoid them even now. This war was based on a pack of lies from A to Z.From the first to the last, it was based on a pack of lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no link between Iraq and the atrocities on 9/11. There was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but there is now. There’s plenty of al-Qaeda in Iraq now, and who’s to blame for that? Who brought al-Qaeda into Iraq, visiting upon now the people of Iraq the same scourge that we visited upon the people of Afghanistan in the 1980’s and early 1990’s? And most pernicious of all was the lie that the invading armies would be welcomed by flowers and rice. This lie, told to our own soldiers, and there’s 2,000 American boys lying in the ground now, testimony to the fact that they were greeted with something much hotter and much sharper than flowers and rice. Fifteen thousand American boys wounded, maimed, scarred forever, many of them in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, for the rest of their lives in a wheelchair, the next sixty years in a wheelchair because of that pack of lies that sent them into this ignoble enterprise. And there’s more than 100,000 Iraqis dead according to Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Association. When I mentioned this in a debate in New York the other night, my opponent said that Johns Hopkins University, one of the world’s finest schools, and the Lancet, one of the most respected journals in the world, were crazed fabricators. He really did say that, and I asked him to repeat it, and he repeated it, and there was a group of maniacs in the audience who were shouting “yes, crazed fabricators.” Well, I’ll tell you this. If I had to choose between the work of Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet or Christopher Hitchens and George W. Bush, I’m with Johns Hopkins and the Lancet. *applause* Now all these lies, all this death and destruction, the disfiguring of the face of the international legal and political system, the bankruptcy of the United Nations Security Council which said, “no, we won’t agree to war,” and America and Britain said, “well, you get stuffed, we’re going to have the war anyway,” the breakdown in trust that is now evidenced in the New York Times poll that my comrade Ahmed talked about earlier, when most people in both countries no longer believe in what their government tells them, their confidence in our own system of government perhaps fatally undermined. And all the extremism that’s been sewn, all the new dangers that have been laid for us, I tell you, will blight the lives not only of every person in this room but their children and maybe their children yet unborn.

This is a tremendous crime, but, when the French statesman Talleyrand was informed of the murder of a political opponent, his aides said, “it’s a terrible crime,” and Talleyrand answered, “yes, it’s a terrible crime, but it’s worse than a crime, it’s a blunder.” And that’s what this enterprise is. It’s a crime, but it’s worth than a crime, it’s a blunder. It’s a blunder that has turned the world up-side-down, and it’s not finished yet. If we don’t withdraw the British and American armed forces from Iraq very soon, Iraq may plunge into an uncontrollable, unfathomable conflagration of civil war on a confessional and ethnic basis. You’re worried about oil at $70 a barrel, you won’t be able to buy a barrel of oil for any money at all if a Yugoslav-style war breaks out on top of the world’s biggest oil field. And the people that brought us here are still in charge. George Bush got re-elected — okay, let me rephrase that. *applause* Let me rephrase that then. George Bush is still in power. Tony Blaire is still in power. The generals, the intelligence chiefs, the editors, and the journalists who were as much a part of the invasion of Iraq as the U.S. Marine Corpse was *applause* are all still in power, and what are we going to do about it? Are we going to try and hold these people to account? We have a chance now to do it because things have begun to change in this country. I can sense it. I can smell it, feel it on the streets. First of all, when Cindy Sheehan, that brave mother, took to the roads *applause* and besieged that permanent holiday home of George Bush when he, oh, he retires there to his library. *laughter* He’s apparently colored in most of his books already. Cindy Sheehan has set a fire burning underneath Bush and all these criminals who lead us here, and then, I said I’d come back to Mrs. Bush Sr. I tell you, the Bush administration stands naked in front of the whole world, and it’s an ugly sight, a very ugly sight. We knew there were malevolent crooks, but we didn’t know they were utter incompetents as well, unable to organize the collection of dead bodies in their own streets of their own cities a week after a natural disaster, unable to deploy force to rescue their own citizens but ready at the drop of a hat to send forces overseas to destroy other peoples’ countries and destroy their societies. I tell you, when I helped Mrs. Bush Sr. ,you know Marie Antoinette just before the French Revolution, told that the people were rioting for they had no bread, she asked them then why don’t they eat cake. Wasn’t that Barbara Bush as they walked around the Astrodome telling these poor people they’ve never had it so good, how lucky they were, underprivileged as they were, to be in astrodome, dependent on food hand-outs in the richest and most powerful country in the world? I tell you, between Mrs. Sheehan and Mrs. Bush, things have changed here big time, and you have the chance to contribute to that change next Saturday. Every person here must be at that demonstration in Washington, D.C. *applause* It’s a must, an obligation to be here.

Now my last point is this. My favorite parliamentarian is Charles James Fox, whose statue is the first one you come upon as you enter the British Parliament through the St. Stephens entrance. Fox was expelled twice from the British Parliament, first for supporting the American revolution, the American freedom struggle from colonial rule, secondly for supporting the French Revolution. Admittedly, he spoke a little frankly on the second point. He tabled a motion in the British Parliament congratulating the people of France on the execution of their king and queen *laughter* and looking forward to the day when the same fate befell all the other crowned heads of Europe. *applause* But take yourself back in time, and imagine a conversation with Charles James Fox that would run like this. “Are you sure you’re doing the right thing, helping these people? What if they win? What if they set up their own country? What if it ends up being run by crazed fundamentalists like Pat Robertson and George Bush and Richard Pearl and Dick Cheney? Don’t you think that’s a bit risky?” *laughter* Fox would have answered, “It’s not my business who rules America. It’s the business of the American people alone who rules America.” *applause* He might have said, “I have only one choice to make, whether I’m with the foreign occupation of their country or whether I’m with their right to be free of that occupation of their country. That’s the only choice that I have to make.” I told you earlier I’m of Irish background. When the Irish people rose in 1916 at Easter time and delivered the decisive blow against the British empire, seizing the general post office in O’Connell street and proclaiming the Irish republic, there were people in London who called themselves progressives, sapiens, socialists even, who declined to issue a certificate of approval for those Irish revolutionaries. Why? They said, “these Irish rebels are priest-ridden, bog-trotting, Gaelic, Celtic obscurantists who want to dig Ireland off into the mists of a Celtic Brigadoon.” But they forgot that the only certificate of approval that was necessary was the certificate issued by the Irish people themselves for that revolution. *applause* That’s all that is required. And I’m mentioning this because there are people who will say to you, “you can’t support the freedom struggle of the people of Iraq because they might . .. be governed by religious people, by people with beards and turbans who don’t speak or act like us.” Maybe so. The longer we stay there, in fact, the more extreme the likely outcome in the end will be, but nobody can choose who rules Iraq except the people of Iraq. And that is a non-negotiable principle demand. *applause*

Thank you. Just a last point, and I’ll shut up and take some questions. I know I’m speaking to a lot of people of a certain age who know the Vietnam story and all its gore and misery. And I’m addressing them as well as the others on this point. Half of the American casualties in Vietnam fell between 1968 and the end of the war. In 1968, the American government had already decided that it was going to have to withdraw. In fact, Henry Kissinger sabotaged the peace negotiations in Paris to make sure that Humphrey lost the election and that Nixon could win. And half of the 58,000 dead and half of the wounded fell after the United States already knew that it had to leave Vietnam. I can tell you the American administration already knows it has lost the war in Iraq and that, the longer it stays, the deeper it will sink, and the more blood will be added to that swamp of hatred that I’ve been talking about all night. You know, the United States lost all those men and killed all those Vietnamese in the interests of a word which has now crept back into the vocabulary. It’s a dreaded word. I hate to hear it. The word is credibility. I hear these neo-cons say, “we can’t leave Iraq because it will destroy our credibility.” That’s the word that send tens of thousands of Americans to their graves in Vietnam. America will have to leave Iraq sooner or later. It’s much, much better for everybody if it’s sooner rather than later. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you. *applause*

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We are very grateful to Mike Gorse, who transcribed this talk. Mike may be reached at mgorse[AT]mgorse.dhs.org
See also Mike’s website at http://mgorse.dhs.org:8000/

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