George Galloway on US, UK & Iraq

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at
Wed Nov 27 06:14:57 MST 2002

In the hands of the three witches

There will be only one winner of an Iraqi war - Osama bin Laden

George Galloway
Wednesday November 27, 2002
The Guardian

Picture if you will a bearded gentleman on a recruiting poster, finger
pointing imploringly. "I need you," it would say. No, it's not the
ubiquitous Lord Kitchener appeal, but "the emir", Osama bin Laden, and he
needs you to invade Iraq. If there is one man who wants an Anglo-American
invasion and occupation of an Arab country more than the chief of the US
defence board, Richard Perle, it's surely the elusive and pious pimpernel of
the Tora Bora.

Perle told a meeting in parliament last week that the US will launch the war
whether the arms inspectors find anything or not - and Bin Laden hopes he's
right. And that's the flaw at the heart of our government's fudge motion in
parliament this week, passed with 87 against and over 100 MPs voting with
their feet in abstention: the status quo means whatever you want it to mean.

For Jack Straw, making his most conciliatory speech yet, the arms inspectors
route is a "pathway to peace", and even sanctions can be lifted if the
process is completed successfully. But for the opposition, Michael Ancram,
backing the same text, supported Straw like a rope supporting a hanging man.
For him the UN security council resolution is a runway to war. A microcosm,
in other words, of the council itself, where France, Russia, China and Syria
all protest that they voted for a different resolution than the one its
authors wrote.

Straw went so far as to say Britain had a "preference" for a new security
council resolution before war could be declared - indeed that we would like
to move it. And that a "nil return" on the weapons inventory to be submitted
by Iraq on December 8 would not in itself be a "material breach". He even
maintained an eloquent silence on whether the shooting down of an
Anglo-American patrol over the no-fly zones would be such a breach.

But after some "inspiration" from the box of mandarins who flank the Commons
chamber on such occasions, once word of a different spin arrived from the
prime minister's press conference, even he had to make it clear that there
would be no such resolution if there was a chance that any of the permanent
five might veto it. In other words, we will put it to the vote if the vote
is safely rigged in advance. At least he had the grace to look embarrassed.

So we are back where we have always been. Relying on the intentions of the
most rightwing and warlike Republican administration Washington has ever

Gerald Kaufman identified the "three witches" of the Bush forest: Cheney and
Rumsfeld and Rice. Like Macbeth's witches, "toil and trouble" is what
they're boiling for, he said. While nursing their wrath about the
Powell-Blair axis of multilateralism they, along with Perle, seem remarkably
confident that the president's heart and mind is with them. And we know now
what Mr Blair didn't tell the TUC and Labour conferences: that if the
witches' coven prevails we'll be on the back of the broomstick bound for

The "coalition of the willing" could have a security council endorsement if
the threats and bribes are sufficient. More plausibly, Britain and a ragbag
of post-Soviet supplicants for Nato and EU membership will be all there is.
Then, as Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, put it, we "will
have opened the gates of hell".

Sixty days and nights of bombing Iraq, with a thousand raids each day,
according to the leaked Pentagon plan, followed by an invasion and what will
surely be a prolonged occupation. The puppet government brought from
Knightsbridge will get to work privatising the oil industry, ditching Iraq's
current trading partners for new ones - we know who'll make off with the top
prizes - and joining a Jordanian-style "normalisation", finally bowing
Baghdad's knee to Israel.

And in the age of Arab-Sat, every burning building, every scorched corpse,
every broken family dragged out of the Iraqi ruins will be viewed in
Technicolor from the Atlantic to the Gulf. A taste of what the hell will be
like is evident, or would be but for the total curfew, in Ma'an in Jordan,
where the king's airforce has been bombing his own people to suppress a mini
Islamist revolt. In Saudi Arabia, huge sweeps of oppositionists are a
harbinger of turmoil to come. Around the world, anger is exploding,
literally, and if the prime minster is right, our own capital may be next.
For Bin Laden and his ilk, Britain is now in the front ranks of the hated.

Many have praised Tony Blair for nudging Bush into the thicket of the UN.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the pathway leads to
peace, as was no doubt his good intention, he will be a hero. If it turns
out that he has merely paved the way to hell, Burnham Wood will have come to
Dunsinane - and the Blair project will be at an end.

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