[Marxism] Nation blogger on Galloway

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 18 09:58:36 MDT 2005


http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat?bid=1&pid=2544
BLOG | Posted 05/17/2005 @ 11:48pm
Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington

Norm Coleman is a fool.

Not an ideological nut case, not a partisan whack, not even a useful idiot 
-- just a plain old-fashioned, drool-on-his-tie fool.

The Minnesota Republican senator who took Paul Wellstone's seat after one 
of the most disreputable campaigns in American political history has been 
trying over the past year to make a name for himself by blowing the 
controversy surrounding the United Nations Oil-for-Food program into 
something more than the chronicle of corporate abuse that it is. The US 
media, which thrives on official sound bites, was more than willing to lend 
credence to Coleman's overblown claims about wrongdoing in the UN program 
set up in 1996 to permit Iraq -- which was then under strict international 
sanctions -- to buy food, medicine and humanitarian supplies with the 
revenues from regulated oil sales. Even as Coleman's claims became more and 
more fantastic, he faced few challenges from the cowering Democrats in 
Congress.

But when Coleman started slandering foreign politicians, he exposed the 
dramatic vulnerability of his claims that the supposed scandal was much 
more than a blatant example of US corporations taking advantage of their 
powerful connections in Washington to undermine official US policy, harm 
the national interest and profit off the suffering of the poor.

The Senate investigation that Coleman sought regarding the Oil for Food 
program has already revealed that the Bush Administration failed to crack 
down on widespread abuse of the Oil for Food program by US energy 
companies, and that US oil purchases accounted for the majority of the 
kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein's regime in return for sales of 
inexpensive oil. Indeed, the report concludes, "The United States 
(government) was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN 
sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein 
obtained from circumventing UN sanctions. On occasion, the United States 
actually facilitated the illicit oil sales."

Instead of forcing the President, his aides and the executives of Bayoil, 
the Texas oil company that the report shows paid "at least $37 million in 
illegal surcharges to the Hussein regime" -- money that helped the Iraqi 
dictator solidify his grip on power -- Coleman started to make wild charges 
about European officials such as British parliamentarian George Galloway.

The problem for Coleman is that Galloway is not a standard-issue American 
politician -- the kind who has nothing to say and says it poorly. He is a 
veteran of the rough-and-tumble politics of Glasgow and the equally 
rough-and-tumble politics of the British Parliament. In other words, 
Galloway comes from places where voters and politicians do not suffer 
fools. And anyone who has ever followed British politics knows that George 
Galloway has beaten every political challenge he has faced -- even those 
posed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Galloway called Coleman's bluff and flew to Washington for a remarkable 
appearance before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. "I 
am determined now that I am here, to be not the accused but the accuser," 
Galloway announced as he stood outside the Capitol Tuesday. "These people 
are involved in the mother of all smokescreens."

The member of Parliament tore through Coleman's flimsy "evidence," issuing 
an unequivocal denial that began, "Mr. Chairman, I am not now, nor have I 
ever been an oil trader, and neither has anyone been on my behalf. I have 
never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither 
has anybody on my behalf." He accused Coleman of being "remarkably cavalier 
with any idea of justice" and pointed out error after error in the report 
the senator had brandished against him.

For instance, Galloway noted that he had met Saddam twice -- not the "many" 
times alleged by the report. "As a matter of fact I have met Saddam Hussein 
exactly the same number of times that [Secretary of Defense] Donald 
Rumsfeld met him," said the recently re-elected British parliamentarian. 
"The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns."

For good measure, Galloway used the forum Coleman had foolishly provided to 
deliver a blistering condemnation of Coleman's war.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you 
promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing 
of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of 
them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were 
Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis 
with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop 
you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I 
told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies," Galloway 
informed the fool on Capitol Hill.

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons 
of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq 
had no connection to Al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, 
that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001. I told the 
world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a 
British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad 
would not be the beginning of the end but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you 
turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of 
them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of 
them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

"If the world had listened to [UN Secretary General] Kofi Annan, whose 
dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to [French] President 
Chirac, who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world 
had listened to me and the antiwar movement in Britain, we would not be in 
the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all 
smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you 
supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth," argued 
Galloway.

Then the Brit turned the tables on Coleman and steered the committee's 
attention toward "the real Oil for Food scandal."

"Have a look at the fourteen months you were in charge of Baghdad, the 
first fourteen months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on 
your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that 
stole not only Iraq's money but the money of the American taxpayer," 
Galloway said.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping 
out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where. 
Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to 
hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it. Have a 
look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the 
earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters 
were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real 
sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own 
Government."

--

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