As the imperialist occupation steps up its devastating attacks against Iraqi working people, and the EU leaders acquiesce to Bush’s policy, Joe Higgins remains an eloquent and principled voice for the oppressed and the working class.
Joe Higgins is a Socialist Party Deputy in the Irish Parliament. Below is a statement (10 November) he made in Parliament on the US forces’ bloody assault on Fullaja. It is followed with Joe’s exchange with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
"Monstrous arsenal of armaments" used against Fulluja
Statement on the European Council, held in Brussels, 4 and 5 November
Joe Higgins (Socialist Party): The published conclusions of the EU Presidency following the EU leader’s summit of 4 and 5 November leave me seriously wondering if the European Union leadership is in outright denial of the realities of our world or, worse and more likely, deliberately trying to deceive the people of the European Union. The first paragraph of the section on external affairs reads:
The European Council warmly congratulated President George W. Bush on his re-election as President of the United States … Our close transatlantic partnership, based on shared values, is fundamental for Europe’s approach to building international peace, security and prosperity. Our deep political, economic and cultural ties make us each other’s natural and indispensable partners.
Can we be clear on this matter? Is the [Irish] Government saying that it shares with the United States Government a belief that it has the right to launch an imperialist conquest of another country, to ruthlessly use its position as the most wealthy and powerful country on the planet to invade Iraq, corral its oil resources and establish military control over the Middle East? Of all the days to credit the United States with being a partner in building international peace and prosperity, this is not the one when the United States’ military, as we speak, is battering the daylights out of the city of Falluja with all its monstrous arsenal of armaments and its victims include hospital workers, medical personnel, women and little children.
Is the Government saying it shares the values of an administration that has built a gulag on its own doorstep in Guantanamo, whose methods would rival any of the infamous gulags, built by the Stalinists in eastern Europe in their heyday? The United States justifies the kidnap of suspects from around the world, interning them and subjecting them to systematic torture without recourse to human or civil rights. Is the Government saying it shares these values?
The Council declaration on Iraq, a five page document, contains not a single mention of the imperialist occupation of Iraq by states, including member states of the European Union. The Council says it "warmly welcomes the restoration of sovereignty to the Iraqi Government", dignifying as a sovereign Government a clutch of crooked exiles and hand-picked CIA stooges put in place by the occupying powers. Is there any end to how far the Government will debase itself in favour of American foreign policy? No doubt, the Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] will shortly be preparing to go to Washington on St. Patrick’s Day, one hand clutching a bowl of shamrock and the other tugging his forelock to Mr. Bush. That is shameful.
The Lisbon strategy, which is the other major issue, is simply the agenda of European big business dictated by the European round table and other lobby groups which have an open door to the European Commission which, in the neo-liberal policies pushed by the European Commission, acts as their agent. It is a race to the bottom for the European working class involving a savage assault on their pension rights in country after country. At a time when the world never had more technology and resources, it is ironic that people’s working lives must be lengthened. Let us remember that some of the greatest struggles of the international working class were for shorter working days, weeks and years to give some dignity to the lives of working people. The Lisbon Agenda also has at its centre the privatisation of our public services. It is probably not surprising that the Government cheers on this big business agenda since it implements it itself. It is no wonder the Taoiseach was greeted with derision in the Dáil yesterday when he said he was the friend of those on the margins.
European workers will have their say. German workers are having their say by protesting in their hundreds and thousands against this agenda. We can expect this to increase and intensify.
Question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs
J. Higgins: When the English language is used in European Union communiqués do the words have the normal meaning with which we associate them in everyday life? What does "natural and indispensable partners" mean in the context in which it is used? Does it mean the Government considers itself a partner in the illegal and brutal invasion of Iraq, which has seen the slaughter of 100,000 people and its ongoing occupation? What is meant by "shared values"? Does it mean that we share the belief that we can concoct a monstrous lie on the strength of which it is permissible to launch an invasion of another country?
In backing the United States assault on Falluja does the Minister really believe this will mean the end of the insurgency any more than, for example, the operation in Hue in Vietnam in the 1960s finished the insurgency there? Can we not think independently of the propaganda of imperialism? Does the Minister agree that the Israeli Government continues its brutal repressive and murderous assault on the Palestinian people and their territories while standing firmly behind the Israelis is the Bush Administration? What did the Minister say about that matter at the EU summit?
Dermot Ahern (Minister for Foreign Affairs): While I do not know about the Deputy, as far as I am concerned this country has and always has had a good relationship with the US and has shared values with the US over the years. We share the same views on the freedoms it holds very dearly. I listen to the Deputy bleating on every day about workers. At least 100,000 people working in this country get their employment from American-backed companies. I make no apology for my position on this matter.
On Israel, we have clearly articulated our opinion, as has the EU, on the overreaction and excessive use of force by Israeli forces on Palestinian positions. We have equally said that we condemn the suicide bombings of Hamas and others and we will continue to do so. Only when a unilateral ceasefire becomes effective will proper dialogue based on the roadmap and the two-state solution, which we all desire, take place.
J. Higgins: I remind the Minister that sheep bleat and socialists articulate ideas.