Galloway the Great versus Christopher “Poppinjay” Hitchens: moderated by Amy Goodman, whose “Democracy Now” has the only video and audio links that I can access. Check it out.
UPDATE: Apparently, the debate is being delayed because they’re running everyone in the audience through a metal detector. Could it be because the guys over at Frontpage are in the crowd?
UPDATE: It’s finally starting. We just had a very primly self-righteous introduction by a woman from the sponsoring organization, very pro-Galloway. Galloway’s name got a lot of applause, loud and obnoxiously demonstrative. Hey, don’t make me root for the underdog — especially when I’m rooting for Galloway!
UPDATE: iT’S STARTED! Galloway looks pensive, Hitchens thuggish. Amy Goodman is making announcements. The tension is palpable.
UPDATE: Hitchens is up first. Wild applause. He looks surprised.
UPDATE: He’s showboating it. Starting out with a “moment of silence” for the 160 killed in the bombing in Baghdad this morning. Silence about sums up the pro-war case…
UPDATE: We are being lectured about the four conditions Hitchens will permit a nation to retain its sovereignty. 1) Repeated aggression, 2) WMDs, 3) Violates or won’t sign the Genocide Convention, and 4) Harbors “gangsters and nihilists”. All of them, by the way, being currently violated by the United States government. Now he’s talking up the “heroic” Kurdish “pershmerga” — you know, the ones who are rounding up their ethnic and political rivals and imprisoning them in underground jails. “They could have been chauvinist,” burbles the Hitch. Yes, they could have been, and they are. But drink probably has obliterated that from his mind.
He’s now hailig the “spread” of the “liberation” movement among Kurds throughout the region. Oh, goody….
It seems to me that he takes a Deutscherite — Isacc Deutscher — view. The crude effects of American intervention are History moving inevitably forward. Never mind the details.
He ends on a thuggish note, screeching about Galloway “slobbering” over “slobbering dictators.” Uh huh. Thunderous applause. Some boos.
UPDATE: Galloway is up. He’s “thanking” Hitchens for standing up for the Palestinians, 5 years ago. And for his opposition to the first Gulf war. Recalls a very funny anecdote on TV with Hitchens debating Charleton Heston. Hitchens asked Heston if he could name four countries bordering the country he wanted to invade. Heston, of course, could not.
Hitchens is standing there, apparently talking (mumbling) to himself.
So what are we witnessing? Galloway: “The metamorphosis of a butterfly back into a slug. I mention a slug purpose, because the one thing a slug leaves behind it is a trail of slime.” Ouch!
He’s ripping into Hitchens, now. He slimed “more gentle people than me.” Like Cindy Sheehan: he lists the libels hurled at her by the Hitch. Then: “People like Hitchens are willing to fight to the last drop of other people’s blood.”
He speaks of Charles James Fox, the Brit MP who supported the American Revolution. The Hitchens of those days would have supported the British occupation. After all, they might argue, one day America might come to be controlled by fundamentalist — like George W. Bush, Pat Robertson, etc. etc.
He denounces as “cheap demagoguery” the “moment of silence” invoked by Hitchens at the beginning, because he “doesn’t want to know about the massacres taking place at al-Talfar this morning, or at Fallujah before that.”
They said we woud be greeted with flowers. But there are 2,000 boys and girls lying in the ground because of the war that Hitchens, and Bush, and Cheny and the neocons dragged us into.” Thunderous applause.
UPDATE: Hitchens looks tired. Already. He denies making the statement attributed to him by Galloway in the beginning of Galloway’s spiel. He admits he was “wrong” about Gulf War I.
UPDATE: Hitchens hits Galloway where he’s weakest: valorizing the Iraqi “resistance” is “disgusting.” He then gives in to the temptation to makes jokes about the “Vagina Monologues” and Jane Fonda. Makes a point about Sheehan: can you cheer on the people who killed her son and then come to appeal to the emotions of his mother. Brings up the same old smears against Sheehan. It’s a “crazed fabrication” to say that 100,000 were killed in Iraq. Blah blah blah ….
UPDATE: A powerful refutation by Galloway. He recalls Hitchens’ support for the resistance in Algeria, known as terrorist and openly so. And what about the Vietnamese, which Hitchens supported in their war against the U.S.?
The audience is up in arms as Galloway says that we created the “swamp of hatred” against us: 9/11 did not come out of the clear blue sky. The pro-war people cannot contain themselves. They are also upset that when he menitions Ariel Sharon and Israel, which he identifies as the major cause of support for the jihadists — we, he says (like Michael Scheuer), are the indispensable ally of bin Laden.
UPDATE: Hitchens says “you picked the wrong city to say that in, and the wrong month.”
Now he’s detailing how many Communists were killed by Syria’s Assad. [[[Yawn]]].
Now he’s smearing Galloway saying that he was involved in finagling “oil for food” with Tarqi Aziz. He wants him to sign an affadavit. [[[Double-yawn]]]
Now Galloway is mocking the Egyptian “elections.” Not hard. If there was democracy in Lebanon, the leader of Hizbollah would be the President. But you can’t be the President of that country if you’re a Muslim: you have to be a Christian. You have the gall and the hypocrisy to talk about “democracy” in the Middle East!
You’re a hypocrite — you were part of ex-Trotskyists for Bush. And you’re not even ashamed of yourself.
UPDATE: Back to Amy Goodman. “It’s going to be more free-wheeling now.” Laughter. More back and forth. She asks a question: the lack of democracy wasn’t the rationale for war. What about the rationale offered by the administration?
UPDATE: Bush and Blair “insulted everyone in the world” by frightening people instead of “enlightening them.” He disavows the Bushies, saying he can’t answer for the administration, nevertheless what they did was good. The Deutscherite argument again. Besides that, we had good reason to think that Saddam had WMD. A stupid answer to a question about Colin Powell.
UPDATE: Amy to Galloway: Is Saddam guilty of any crimes, and if so, what?
Galloway says that, yes, he committed serious crimes, especially when he was an ally of the United States. Saddam invaded Iran “at the behest” of the U.S.
Were you lying in 91, or are you lying now? Hitchens is now explaining how he came to change his mind, a fair point. He denies that there was an invasion of Iraq in 1991. Odd. Of course there was. We just left, rather quickly.
UPDATE: Amy: what now? Withdrawal, a timetable, staying in indefinitely?
Galloway: It doesn’t look like the Americans are leaving. They have a puppet government in there. Bechtel. Halliburton. Christopher’s new robber baron friends, who’re stealing the money of the people of Iraq and the United States — do you think they’re going anywhere?
You slander the Iraqi resistance as being “foreign fighters.” Which part of Iraq is Gen. Myers from? The most foreign fighters in Iraq are wearing British and American uniforms! This idea that the resistance is “Islamist” is being abandoned by the American military itself: only 6 percent are “foreigners,” if people from neighboring Arab states could be called “foreigners” by Americans. This is the same line used during the cold war: during Vietnam, it was the Red Chinese who were supposed to be about to invade.
This whole line is self-deluding, says Galloway, which borders on racism. The vast majority of the people in Iraq oppose the occupation, they want it to end. The vast majority of the resistance is Iraqi — get used to it, get over it.
UPDATE: Hitchens takes the low road. I am glad, he says, that Galloway now supports terrorism. The audience boos. Hitchens reminds them “You’re on telly.” Oh yeah? So what? He then continues not to answer the question put to him — which is, how long should the U.S. stay? But Hitchens has forgotten all about that. He’s too busy hailing the “heroic peshmerga” thugs. He’s going on about how wonderful the elections were — the same elections that installed a theocracy in Iraq.
UPDATE: Amy: What about the costs of this war at home — with Katrina, and the lack of response. Why is the U.S. any better in Iraq than in New Orleans?
UPDATE: Hitchens claims that the President couldn’t have ordered troops into New Orleans. Wrong. Ignoble, parochial, provincial to balance New Orleans against Baghdad. Scores no points with me, a reactionary. “Isolationist, chauvinist” — he sounds like a Commie.
UPDATE: This is where it ends, says Galloway. You start out by acting as a liberal mouthpiece for this reactionary administration on the war, and you wind up acting as a mouthpiece and an apologist for the Bushies, who couldn’t even pick up the bodies of their own citizens in New Orleans? Now he’s really giving it to the Hitch: Barbara Bush’s “they never had it so good.” You know, Hitchens, you’re a court jester. Not of Camelot, like other ridiculous liberals before you, but at the court of the Bourbon Bush.
UPDATE: Hitchens. A weak joke, and more of the “we shouldn’t tell people in New Orleans that they Arabs have stolen your money.” It’s reactionary, you see. Well, isn’t that just tough. He spends too much time berating the audience, whining about how he’s being “shouted down.” He denies ever appearing on a platform with Bush — a charge no one has ever made.
UPDATE: Amy: Christopher, as you changed your views, do you feel as though the media is friendlier to you?
Hah! The Hitch believes he knows “the imputation” of her question — more whining — and basically admits that, yes, it’s true.
UPDATE: Galloway says that the debate is “running out of steam.” Concludes by saying that the question before the house is already being adjudicated, by the polls, by the majority of Americans. It may be true that in the far-right neocon fringes, all is hunky dory in Iraq. But in reality, in Iraq, religious fundamentalism has been put in power by the invasion. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani, that he speaks so approvingly now — that’s funny, the Trotskyist Hitchens friends with an Ayatollah — is in charge. Be careful of what you wish for. Because if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran, the Iranians will answer in the south of Iraq. Extremism has been fueled by this war: the jihadis have been empowered. International law has been fatally undermined. Worse than a crime, as Tallyrand said, it’s a blunder. A blunder that has destabilized the world, multiplied our enemies — and we have seen the ridiculous spectacle of this poppinjay who continues to support it.
UPDATE: The Hitch defines poppinjay, a target for archery, and he’s glad he’s a target for the “moveon.org crowd.” He’s standing up for the Iraqi left — and, of course, the Kurds. He repeats the “oil for food” smear, and concludes with a “what have you done for the New Iraq”? “The emancipation of Kurdistan.” Solidarity. Liberation. Catch-phrases. “It’s not too late. Do it in the name of internationalism.”
Pah. Screw internationalism. Screw that commie rat. Go, George, go!!!!
ON A FINAL NOTE: I have to say that the leftist frame of reference in which both of these two gentlemen operated throughout the evening has very little to do with the debate on the war that is taking place in the U.S. What normal American cares about “internationalism”? How many are really inspired at the prospect of building “the New Iraq”? Hitchens is speaking a foreign language, and so, to some extent, is Galloway — although the latter’s foray into the New Orleans issue shows a politician’s gut instinct to go for the political jugular.
Every one of Hitchens’ points was made as if to somehow justify the course he’s taken in leftist terms. He is eager — too eager — to show that he hasn’t betrayed himself, that he isn’t a Max Shachtman, which merely underscores that he clearly is.
Galloway’s attack, on the other hand — and, it seems to me that Galloway was on the attack all evening, while poor old Hitch was playing defense — was also centrally concerned with this issue of consistency, of trying to prove that he was the better, more faithful, more consistent man of the left. All of this, I’m sure, is fascinating to readers of The Nation and habitues of “Harry’s Place” blog— the place on the internet where warmongering and socialism meet — but as for the rest of us, it’s a mixed bag. It was a delight, of course, to see Hitchens get his ass kicked: the whining, the desperation, the rhetorical flailing, the viciousness all exposed before the camera’s merciless eye. In arguing the proposition before the house, Hitchens showed that he himself is not a very attractive proposition. And he made a point that I’ve been making to conservatives and libertarians for years: that warmongering in the name of “liberation” and “regime change” is more Jacobin than Jeffersonian, and that this crazed “internationalism” Hitchens speaks of is simply the Bush administration’s version of “proletarian internationalism.” The Bush Doctrine is the Brezhnev Doctrine, the only difference being that the U.S. is far more powerful than the Soviet Union ever was, and has the firepower to enforce its will. That’s why Galloway is right, and it’s why we, inside the Empire, have a special responsibility to rein in the biggest rogue state of them all.