Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Man on Fire

Remarks by George Galloway in Parliament on the day of the London bombings:

...Does the House not believe that hatred and bitterness have been engendered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by the daily destruction of Palestinian homes, by the construction of the great apartheid wall in Palestine and by the occupation of Afghanistan? Does it understand that the bitterness and enmity generated by those great events feed the terrorism of bin Laden and the other Islamists? Is that such a controversial point? Is it not obvious? When I was on the Labour Benches and spoke in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I said that I despise Osama bin Laden. The difference is that I have always despised him. I did so when the Government, in this very House, gave him guns, money and encouragement, and set him to war in Afghanistan. I said that if they handled that event in the wrong way, they would create 10,000 bin Ladens. Does anyone doubt that 10,000 bin Ladens at least have been created by the events of the past two and a half years? If they do, they have their head in the sand.

There are more people in the world today who hate us more intently than they did before as a result of the actions that we have taken. Does this House understand that the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison have inflamed and deepened that sense of hatred around the world and made our position more dangerous? Do Members of this House not understand that Guantanamo Bay has contributed to the sense of bitterness and hatred against us around the world? Does nobody in this House understand that when Palestinians' houses are knocked down, their olive trees cut down and their children shot by Israeli marksmen, an army of people who want to harm us is created? To say that is not to hope that they succeed—I started by making clear, I hope, my utter rejection and condemnation of the events in London this morning.

It does not matter whether Britain replaces the Trident submarine system with another. The threat now, as the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (John Smith) made clear, is not the intercontinental ballistic missiles of other countries but the asymmetrical threat of angry people who hate us and who are ready to exchange their lives for several of ours, or hundreds of ours, or thousands of ours, if they can do so. Is that really so hard to grasp? Given that one cannot defend oneself against every angry man among the enrag├ęs of the earth, it follows that the only thing we can do is address what the Secretary of State called the causal circumstances that lie behind these events. That means trying to reduce the hatred in the world and trying to deal with the political crises out of which these events have flowed. If, instead of doing that, we remain in this consensual bubble in which we have placed ourselves, we will go on making the same mistakes over and over again. We will go on with Guantanamo Bay. We will go on as we are doing, making Abu Ghraib not smaller as we were told would happen after the photographs were published, but bigger. We will go on with occupation and war as the principal instruments of our foreign and defence policy. If we do that, some people will get through and hurt us as they have hurt us here today, and if we still do not learn the lesson, that dismal, melancholic cycle will continue.

It ought to be common sense that people start from the standpoint that the only thing that matters is whether what we plan to do will make things better or worse. I listened to the Secretary of State lay out the success story of Afghanistan and Iraq, and his account bore no relationship to the truth or reality. He talked about Afghanistan as a success story and about the President of Afghanistan, when everyone knows that Karzai is the president of the congestion charge area of downtown Kabul and no more. He talked about an Afghan army—it is a fantasy. Afghanistan is a patchwork quilt of warlordism, where the warlords' armies dwarf the so-called Afghan national army. He talked about drugs and narcotics: before we invaded the country those lunatics of the Taliban were reducing heroin production in Afghanistan, but the people whom we have put into power there have increased production by 800 per cent. Our armed forces are in Afghanistan and our taxes are being used to support a political structure that is producing 90 per cent. of the junk that ends up in the veins of our young people in Glasgow, east London and many other places in the world.

The Secretary of State talked about Iraq—as if Iraq were any kind of success story. I could not believe my ears as he described, in that complacent, orotund manner, progress over 12 months, 18 months or two years. Iraq is going backwards, not forwards. It is impossible for the Secretary of State to say we shall withdraw in any given time frame, because Iraq is getting worse, not better. There are more people being killed in Iraq now than there were before. More military operations are being conducted by the Iraqi resistance than before. Last Saturday alone, 175 military operations were mounted by the Iraqi resistance on one day....

....One thousand, eight hundred American boys, conscripted by poverty, unemployment and poor opportunities, have lost their lives as a result of the pack of lies that was the case for the invasion of Iraq, and 17,000 American boys have been wounded. Ten per cent. of them are amputees, who will have to go around with no legs for the rest of their lives as a result of the pack of lies on which we went to war in Iraq.

Eighty-nine of our own boys, including the son of Rose Gentle from Glasgow, 19-year-old Gordon, were sent to die in Iraq on a pack of lies. The Prime Minister will not even meet Gordon's mother. He will not meet the mother of a 19-year-old boy who was sent to die in Iraq. Last Monday, I was on a television programme and a call came through from the mother of a 17-year-old soldier who was leaving for Iraq the following Monday. He is 17 years old, and he is being sent to Iraq, into that quagmire. The 19-year-old Gordon Gentle is dead. Eighty-eight other young men from this country are dead as a result of this, yet our Ministers roll out their jokes and their cod philosophy here today. They have absolutely no grasp of the gravity of the situation, or of how unpopular their stand has become outside these walls. They have learned nothing from the fact that they lost a million votes as a result of what they did in Iraq, or from the fact that millions in Britain marched against them and begged them not to do this.

The hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones), in an otherwise fine speech, described today's events as "unpredictable". They were not remotely unpredictable. Our own security services predicted them and warned the Government that if we did this we would be at greater risk from terrorist attacks such as the one that we have suffered this morning.