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[casi] Galloway: "Political death of a usurper"

"... Yesterday's jokers, the "Iraqi Governing Council" - handpicked by
Iraq's US governor, Paul Bremer - make South Vietnam's General Thieu look
like an authentic national leader. Without hundreds of thousands of foreign
troops, they would be swept away in a gale of derision. .."


Political death of a usurper

An unwinnable war in Iraq and the deceit that led to it have destroyed the
credibility of the prime minister

George Galloway
Monday July 14, 2003
The Guardian

"Now does he feel/ his secret murders sticking on his hands;/ now minutely
revolts upbraid his faith-breach;/ those he commands move only in command,/
nothing in love: now does he feel his title/ hang loose about him, like a
giant's robe/ upon a dwarfish thief."
Thus Angus spoke of the Scottish usurper Macbeth, whose ambition led him
deep into a river of blood. Less poetically, Clare Short, Mo Mowlem and
Robin Cook are saying much the same of their former cabinet colleague. I
predicted before the war that Iraq would be the political death of Tony
Blair, and it is now almost Shakespearean how the pain from his
self-inflicted wounds is written across his face. It is as if he is
physically diminishing before our eyes as his authority bleeds into the
sands of Iraq.

Each new day brings another stab at Blair's credibility: former cabinet
members in public, current ministers in private, using the round of summer
parties to distance themselves from the fading king. From Hans Blix, the BBC
and the press, from two former heads of the joint intelligence committee and
now, perhaps fatally, from across the Atlantic, fall blow after hammer blow.
Suddenly, comparing the two main war leaders to wolves - which has got me
into such difficulty with the Labour hierarchy - seems very tame indeed.

Always travelling light on ideological baggage, never having won or wanted
the affection of the Labour clan, Blair's main asset was his "Trust me, I'm
a regular guy" reputation. Now it is gone and will never be recovered.

That Iraq was lynched by Bush and Blair has become plain as a pikestaff.
Take the saving of Private Jessica. Said at first to have been shot and held
hostage by Iraqi doctors, and now revealed to have been in their care after
a road traffic accident, her story serves as a metaphor for the mendacity so
deep and treacly-black it might be an oil sump: from the 45-minute warning
to the banks of the Niger and the sweepings of the internet floor.

In their occupation of Iraq, the US and British armies have entered the
gates of hell. Soon it will be 100 degrees at midnight in Baghdad, but there
will be no respite from the need for full body armour. In two weeks, armed
attacks on coalition forces have nearly doubled to 25 per day. More than 200
have been wounded and over 40 killed in combat since "victory" was declared
by President Bush. Morale among US forces is dropping towards Vietnam-type
levels, with heavy drug consumption, and commanders turning a blind eye to
the prostituting of Iraqi women. No doubt the spectre of troops "fragging"
overly strict officers is on their minds.

So hot is the welcome to these "liberators" that the US has now evacuated
its forces from both the vast campus of Baghdad University and from the hub
of the sharpest armed action, in Fallujah. The latter gives the lie to the
repeated calumny that those fighting the occupation are merely "Saddamist
remnants". In truth, Fallujah is the heartland of the Jubbur tribe,
arch-enemies of Saddam whose leaders were purged by the Takriti Ba'ath party
bosses more than a decade ago.

No fighting in this area could take place without the Jubbur, so it must be
more than nostalgia for the old regime that is fuelling it. Throughout the
Calvary of Vietnam, resistance was routinely described as coming from
unrepresentative "hardline elements" or outside the country's borders. The
deeper Johnson and Nixon sank into the quagmire, the more they spread the
war, to neighbouring Cambodia and new killing fields. Look out for "hot
pursuit" operations in the months to come into Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia
and Iran.

In Vietnam, the Americans installed a succession of puppet governments in
whose name they could claim to be fighting. Though as bereft of electoral
legitimacy as a Jeb Bush Floridian plebiscite, the Vietnamese juntas had a
social base. Yesterday's jokers, the "Iraqi Governing Council" - handpicked
by Iraq's US governor, Paul Bremer - make South Vietnam's General Thieu look
like an authentic national leader. Without hundreds of thousands of foreign
troops, they would be swept away in a gale of derision.

Iraqis want Britain and America out of their country, that much is
abundantly clear. Only independently supervised elections to a constituent
assembly can produce Iraqi leaders fit to face the outside world and rebuild
their country.

Tony Blair can run around the world on grand diplomatic tours. He can bask
in the adulation of the Republican right in the US Congress. But he cannot
hide from the fact that he has lost the plot at home. He has entered that
twilight which saw the departure in tears of Mrs Thatcher in a taxi from the
Downing Street she once bestrode like a colossus.

The foreign affairs select committee was wrong when it said the jury was out
on the Blair war. Both the public and the Labour movement jury has already
returned its verdict of guilty. Mr Blair will soon exit the political stage;
it would be better t'were done quickly.

 George Galloway is Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin and a columnist for the
Scottish Mail on Sunday

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