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Our duty is to support those struggling to free their country from imperialist domination

George Galloway's speech to the Stop the War Coalition conference on 12 February


George GallowayBrothers and sisters, comrades and friends, thank you very much for that kind introduction. Im sorry that I havent been here for the rest of the conference today, Ive been campaigning in the election that hasnt started yet in the East End of London, for the party to which I belong: Respect - The Unity Coalition. And I arrived just in time to hear, most of the outstanding speech by Caroline Lucas, whom I have just been exalting in the streets today for her performance on BBCs Any Questions on Radio 4 last night, and her speech again today reminded us what an outstanding asset, against the war, that she and the Green Party are

I think this reminds us of the absolutely central importance of the broad unity of the Stop the War Coalition. It is absolutely vital that we keep together this coalition, which moved millions, which has won the argument in this country. This is a very important point. People sometimes say, "well the stop the war movement failed…" It is not a failure at all, it has won the argument decisively in this country, that attacking and invading and occupying Iraq was a disastrous idea, and that if Tony Blair decides to join any more Bush wars, hes definitely finished.

Only 29% of the people in this country, God knows who they are, still think that attacking Iraq was a good idea. And this is very important, because George Bush does intend to start more Bush wars. Make no mistake about it, he and the people that even General Powell described as the crazies, the neo-cons adventurers around Bush and the White House, know that they probably have only four more years to turn the world upside down and reshape it in their own image. And they dont intend, unless we stop them, to stop where theyve gotten to now.

Its very, very clear that the softening up process against Iran has begun. Amongst certain liberal centres, we start to see the same kind of critique of the Iranian regime, and Iranian society, and the shortcomings, even worse than shortcoming, of the Mullahs in Tehran, trying to soften up liberal opinion. I heard a New Labour woman MP, the other day, complaining about just how bad the lot of women in Iran today is. Theres a softening up process going on, and no issue more significantly than that old chestnut, weapons of mass destruction!

Now here Im not speaking for the Stop the War Coalition, Im not even speaking for Respect, Im merely just speaking for myself when I ask this question. Its one thats been troubling me over many, many years. How come were allowed to have nuclear weapons but Iran is not allowed? Ive honestly never understood it Ive been arrested outside Faslane, I conducted the only interview ever given upside down to the BBC, as I was being carried away by horse back riding police officers. So Im against our own weapons of mass destruction, as Im against all weapons of mass destruction. But you simply cannot sustain, intellectually, morally or in any other way, why Israel is allowed to have nuclear weapons, but Iran is not allowed!

Essentially, in circumstances that America is openly threatening to attack and invade Iran, it is now very clear from the unravelling of the case for war on Iraq, that Iraq was invaded not because it had weapons of mass destruction, but because it didn't have weapons of mass destruction! North Korea will not be invaded precisely because it does have weapons of mass destruction! And the moral of that story is clear! If you dont want Condoleezza Rice visiting soon, youd better get your hands on weapons of mass destruction! Instead of stopping proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, theyve massively accelerated the trend and the tendency towards anyone who can do so, laying their hands on those.

Now I was interviewed by an American journalist just the other week, who after I’d spoken, he switched off his tape recorder and said; “I don’t think you should get too upset, I don’t think they’re going to invade Iran, they’re only going to bomb it!” Well, that wouldn’t be much of a difference if you were an Iranian. But it’s only a soft option if you imagine that Iran is not going to respond to a bombing by America, or by its surrogate, its auxiliary, General Sharon’s Israel, who have already been given the weapons with which to attack Iran. Well I’m here to tell you, that Iran will respond with uncontrollable violence, throughout the region and the world, if America or Israel invaded in any form, by land or by air. And why wouldn’t they?

Their regime would fall if they did not respond to an invasion by the United States or Israel. They will turn Iran into a quagmire of anti-Western, anti-Israeli feeling. They will use their influence elsewhere, nowhere more significantly than in the south of Iraq, where thanks to British and American policy, Iran’s influence has been enhanced rather considerably as a result of the events of the last couple of years. And who's standing there, in the deserts of the south of Iraq, just one fatwah away from a wave of violence? People like Gordon Gentle, and the other 9000 British soldiers, who have been sent there by Blair and Bush, if necessary to pay the real blood price for the special relationship between us, and George Bush’s USA.

Now, because I’m sad that way, I’m spending Valentines night here, with Rose Gentle and Tony Benn and John Rees, and I hope you’ll all be there, unless you’ve got a better offer! I was up with Rose Gentle, in Leeds just the other night, and she made it very very clear; the people, Mr Hoon, who are showing “absolute contempt” for the well being of the British servicemen and women, is not the anti-war movement, who want to bring them home, but you and your government, who have put them in harm's way…

Now I understand there are resolutions, that are coming up, which want to alter the line of the Stop the War Coalition, on some of the issues involving the internal politics of Iraq. I have my own views, all of us do have our own views about that, and many of us will have different views about this or that aspect of the internal politics of Iraq. I myself believe, the job of people acting in solidarity with those fighting for their liberation abroad, have only one duty, and that’s the duty to support those struggling to free their country from imperialist domination by which ever means they decide is necessary. It is not for us to comment on the political strength of the liberation movement. It matters to me, as someone of Irish background.

When the heroes and the martyrs of the Easter Rising, in Dublin in 1916, seized the general post office, there were many on the left in Britain who denounced them as Catholic obscurantists, as priests, as bogtrotters, who wanted to take the Irish people out of the British Empire, only into the mists of Celtic obscurantism. And I say, to those who say that about Iraq, the same as the Irish liberation movement said in 1916, get used to it! It’s not your business! The politics of Iraq are not your business! You have only one duty, as citizens of an imperialist country, which is illegally and violently occupying the land of another: to struggle to draw your own country out of that swamp! And that’s what the Stop the War Coalition must unite around! Unite the maximum number of people, Greens, Labour people, Respect, social democrats, liberals, Conservatives even, anyone in our country who we can win to the slogans: Stop the war! Bring the troops home! No more Bush wars!



February 2005


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