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The following is a transcript of a speech given my Christopher Hitchens on the Iraq War. To see his consolidated views and ideas, view part 1 .

Thank you very much, Remy. You can take it out of my time, but I would propose that we begin with a moment of silence for the 160 people who were sadistically murdered in Baghdad this morning as they went to their places of work or stayed in their places of abode, and as they hoped to register for the upcoming elections. I hope I can get an agreement for a moment of respect for them. Very good. I thought those comments were also very worth hearing. I’m very grateful to the organizers for making this possible. I consider it a great distinction to stand on the podium at Baruch College, named for the great Bernhard Baruch, who first proposed in 1946 that weapons of mass destruction be placed under international inspection and control. I’m grateful to the audience also for giving me the chance to revisit my Mr. Ben Trotsky days, dishing out a leaflet in steaming heat on the street outside. It made me feel and look, I hope, much younger. We’re also, of course, on this side of the house here to share with Mr. Galloway the ambition that his views and his record be much better known than they are, and most of you, I hope, will have the leaflet with the details. This and there’s a huge Aaron’s who lives, we were watching or joining us from other audiences can go to Hitchensweb.com and download the whole lot and I hope they will and share it.

An impression, I think, ladies and gentlemen, has been allowed to form and perhaps even to coagulate and to congeal that it is only those of us who support the regime change, the revolutionary change in Iraq, who have any explaining to do. I think that assumption needs to be countered from the very beginning. If you examine the record of the so-called anti-war movement in this country and imagine what would have happened had its counsel been listened to over the last 15 and more years, you would have a world in which the following would be the case: Saddam Hussein would be the owner and occupier of Kuwait. He would have succeeded in the annexation, not merely the invasion, but the abolition of an Arab and Muslim state that was a member of the Arab League and of the United Nations. And with these resources, as we now know because he lost that war, he was attempting to equip himself with the most terrifying arsenal that it was possible for him to. Ladies, that’s one consequence of anti-war politics. That’s what would have happened, isn’t it? Meanwhile, Slobodan Milosevic would have made Bosnia part of a greater Serbia, and Kosovo would have been ethnically cleansed and also annexed. The Taliban would still be in power in Afghanistan if the anti-war movement had been listened to, and Al-Qaeda would still be their guests. And Saddam Hussein, with his crime family, would still be privately holding ownership over a terrorized people in a state that’s been most helpfully described as a concentration camp above ground and a mass grave underneath it.

Now, if I had that record politically, I would be extremely modest. I wouldn’t be demanding explanations from those of us who said it’s about time that we stopped this continual capitulation to dictatorship, to racism, to aggression, and to totalitarian ideology that we will not allow to be repeated in Iraq, the failures in Rwanda and in Bosnia and in Afghanistan and elsewhere. And we take pride in having taken that position, and we take pride in our Iraqi and Kurdish friends who are conducting this struggle on our behalf. I should say, what did it mean to accept this responsibility? We knew it was a weighty one, and we knew it was a dangerous one. I’ve argued, I will argue, that the war was both just and necessary. I think what can separate, perhaps, the two concepts, Iraq had lost its sovereignty as far as a state can do under international law. There are four conditions under which a state may be deemed or said to have sacrificed its sovereignty. These are if it participates in regular aggressions against neighboring states or occupations of their territory, if it violates all the letter and spirit of the terms of the non-proliferation treaty, and in other words, fools around promiscuously with the illegal acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Third, if it should violate the Genocide Convention, the signatories to which are obliged without further notice to act either to prevent or to punish genocide. And fourth, if it plays host to international gangsters, nihilists, terrorists, and jihadists. Iraq met all these four conditions repeatedly and would have demonstrated its willingness to repeat them on many occasions. Its sovereignty was at an end. It was under international sanctions. It was a ward of the international community.

Its people were being starved to build palaces for their psychopathic dictator, and it was imploding as a state and society. The divide and rule policy of the Baath Party had led to appalling ethnic and confessional hatreds within the country. An imploded state would have made these worse, and Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia would have invaded to try and take Kurdistan, support its extremists, and intervene to do the same favor for the Sunni and Wahhabist and Salafist extremists. In fact, all three foreign interventions are taking place at present, but we are fortunate that there is a coalition to hold the ring and prevent it from becoming another Rwanda or another Congo, another vortex of violence, cruelty, destabilization, and war. This, I think, is a point to take pride in. It was the only responsible course. I am willing at any point to take questions and I’m sure I shall be invited to about my own criticisms of and misgivings about differences with those who can touch it and conduct this policy, but on these main points, there seems to be very little room for debate.

We know and make no secret of the extraordinary difficulties that have attended this very noble, risky, and worthwhile enterprise. All of you will have seen some of the consequences of this, but you have the responsibility of imagining what the alternative would be. The positive consequences are that a man who planned, ordered, supervised, and took delight in the genocide, torture, aggression, and occupation of two neighboring states and the massacres of their people is in jail now and will follow Slobodan Milosevic and Augusto Pinochet into the dock quite soon. A federal democratic constitution is being debated now as we speak, with the printing of five million copies of an aboriginal document debated on six television channels and perhaps as many as a hundred newspapers in a country where three years ago, it was death not just for you but for your family to possess a satellite dish or to attempt to distribute a leaflet. The largest stateless minority in the Middle East, the people of Kurdistan, have begun to scramble to their feet to assume something like their full height as a people. Even before the intervention, they were producing an autonomy, a democracy, a self-determination of their own in the provinces of northern Iraq, which, when I saw them last, were a landscape of desolation and depravity. Out of this, the Kurds have begun to build and help other Iraqis. President Talabani seems to me as a president of whom any country in the region could be proud, and not just by the sort of comparisons one could make. This is an extraordinary unarguable unambiguous gain. The disarmament of Libya, the capitulation of Colonel Gaddafi, is an abandonment of his covert arsenal of mass weapons of mass destruction and the walking back of the evidence that he gave us because we all have it now. In Oakridge, Tennessee, which I think is the right place for it, on analysis, we were able to disclose to us that the provenance of much of this illegal weaponry was the AQ Khan Network in Pakistan, a kind of Walmart for WMD, nukes are us without line stretching all the way from North Korea to the Iraqi envoy who, in March 2003, as the coalition was preparing to intervene, were negotiating in Damascus with the envoy of Kim Jong Il to buy North Korean missiles off the shelf. People say Iraq and WMD can’t be mentioned in the same breath.

Not everything about this can be attributed to the intervention, but it is noticeable that Congress did not want to capitulate and go to Mr. Kofi Annan, for example, or that great statesman Mr. Jacques Chirac, a man so corrupt that he was referred to as the mystery of Dalembert in Sentimental Education. He was so corrupt that he would willingly have paid for the pleasure of selling himself. Nor did they go to Gerhard Schroeder, the rump figure of what was once a proud German. So, freedom ox, you know he came to Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush and said, “I’m out of this game now, and you can analyze everything I have got.” That’s not nothing, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s a step towards disarmament and non-proliferation into the bargain. And then there’s the spread, no less important, of the democratic impulse within the region. Not only is this being spread by the vector of the Kurdish people in their revolution, but as you will readily find if you haven’t read it already, there have been demonstrations in Qamishli, the Kurdish main city in northern Syria, among the oppressed Kurds who suffer under the ossified theocracy of Iran and of course in Turkey as well, to pick up the message that yes, liberation is at hand. These demonstrations broke out on the day that President Talabani was sworn in as president of Iran. There’s an unmistakable connection between them. We who have been friends of the Kurds are very proud of their achievements, and we intend to stand by them no matter what. (Applause) I will add that the moral leader of the Egyptian democracy movement, the man who has begun to break open the argument in Egypt and who suffered a long period of imprisonment during this time and was written to by Nelson Mandela as Egypt’s equivalent, has told me, and I quote, that in his opinion, this new mood in the region would be unthinkable if it was not for the removal of the single worst tyrant who was present there. That’s not nothing.

As a point of testimony, that’s from deep within the bowels of the Egyptian prison system, the man who is the moral hero of the democracy. We would, he says, and I agree with him, and he’s echoed by Anwar Ibrahim as far away as Malaysia, who is the Malay equivalent, and by the leader of the Socialist Party of Lebanon, Mr. Jim Lat, have all stated publicly that this, for them, is the beginning of the end, the fall of the wall, as they put it. This, I think, is also something to take pride in. Now, I could have said this in front of any audience and against any antagonist, but in my last two minutes, I will have to say that I believe it is a disgrace that a member of the British House of Commons should go before the United States Senate subcommittee and not testify but decline to testify and insult all those who are asking questions with the most vile and cheap guttersnipe abuse. I think that’s a disgrace. (Applause) It is not just a disgrace, it is a crime that Mr. Gaddafi has profited from the theft of money from the Iraqi oil-for-food program, has told continuous lies about his profiteering from it, and the foul associates that he made. And at a time when Iraqi children were dying, 11 billion from this program went to the murderer and criminal and sadist and fanatic Saddam Hussein. How can anyone who’s a business partner of this regime show their face in a city like this? And not content with it, he turns up in Damascus, the man searched for a tyrannical fatherland. The Soviet Union let him down, Albania is gone, the Red Army’s out of Afghanistan, but the hunt persists. Saddam has been overthrown, and his criminal connections with him have been exposed, but on to the next. On the 30th of July in Damascus, in Syria, appearing, I’ve given it all to you in a piece of paper in front of Mr. Assad, whose death squads are cutting down the leaders of democracy in Lebanon. As this is going on, to tell the Syrian people they’re fortunate to have such a leader, the slobbering dopher who they got because he’s the son of the slobbering tired no play before him. How anyone would so in socialist principle can speak in this way is beyond me, and I hope, ladies and gentlemen, far beyond you and far beneath your contempt.

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