Thursday, May 19, 2005

Things are getting very grim here in Washington. The Democrats fight a desperate rearguard action against the Republicans on several fronts.

They fight to maintain a death grip on federal judicial appointments. They resist Social Security reform. They use every expedient to scandalize the president’s designated ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

This is not a constructive use of power, for the Democrats have no constructive proposals to advance. It is merely a grim assertion of “no” to the political party now controlling the White House and Capitol Hill.

That is why I personally, as a professional observer of Washington politics, want to thank the Hon. George Galloway, the off-beat member of Parliament for traveling all the way to Washington from London to provide us a comic interlude.

Mr. Galloway has been accused by Senate investigators of profiting from Saddam Hussein’s manipulation of the U.N. oil-for-food scam. Blustering and shaking in what sounded to me like a Scottish accent — though it could have been the consequence of strong drink — the Hon. Galloway informed the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that the charge is “utterly preposterous.” “I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader, and neither has anyone on my behalf,” he solemnized.

This line, of course, is an adaption from the line once used by American communists and fellow travelers while appearing before congressional investigations of communist subversion during the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s.

Mr. Galloway is a ritualistic leftist. He is so left-wing he was given the heave-ho by his own Labor Party.

Somehow he thought it clever to portray himself in the role once made famous by American leftists testifying before Congress. After his appearance, a tumescent Mr. Galloway appeared before the cameras to boast of how his British parliamentary style had bested our more “sedate” congressional proceedings.

Mr. Galloway seems unaware that modern America does not feel much sympathy for left-wing subversives. Moreover, with the publication of documents from the intelligence archives of the former Soviet Union it is clear many of those leftists and communists in the past really were engaged in subversion for Moscow. The “Red Scare” was a Red Reality.

As to how effective this master of British parliamentarian style was before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, consider: After Mr. Galloway proclaimed his innocence and denounced President George W. Bush’s Iraqi war as the result of a “pack of lies,” Republicans and Democrats came to amiable agreement for the first time in months. As the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, put it, Mr. Galloway’s performance was “not credible.” Mr. Levin, like Mr. Galloway, opposes the war.

The reason Mr. Galloway is not credible is that Mr. Levin’s committee has documents, mounds of documents, linking European officials to profits from the oil-for-food scam that now appears to be the largest case of political graft in history.

Saddam used the program to arm himself, buy political allies around the world, and fund terrorists. Mr. Galloway admits puckishly and pointlessly he met repeatedly with Saddam’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, and even with Saddam, twice — as often has had Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Galloway does not deny the documents showing he worked with Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureqat on various Baghdad deals. He simply denies he received money for the 20 million barrels of oil that documents say he and Mr. Zureqat got.

Mr. Galloway’s buffoonery aside, the evidence now displayed by our government explains why so many European politicians were so patient with Saddam’s numerous breaches of U.N. resolutions. There was money in it for them personally.

Until the revelations of the oil-for-food scam, I had thought the Europeans’ refusal to attack Saddam simply another example of their cowardice. There was in the months before the invasion of Iraq no great debate over weapons of mass destruction. There was only the Europeans’ feigned claim we had not exhausted every diplomatic approach to Saddam.

Saddam ignored U.N. resolutions. He rejected international inspections. He acted willfully and with impunity. Yet at the United Nations, officials refused to act. Now we know why: There, and in many foreign capitals, officials were on the take.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His latest book is “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.”

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