For the past few years, writer Tariq Ali has made it his mission
to expose what he sees as the deceit of President Bush and the true
intentions of U.S. foreign policy to design a new imperial
order.

Julie Pannuto
Writer Tariq Ali speaks on the war on Iraq and the Bush administration last night in the Michigan League, claiming that President Bush knew Iraq never possessed weapons of mass destruction. (BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily)

Disgusted with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Ali took the
opportunity last night to speak at the Michigan League, urging the
University community to oppose the Bush administration, which he
sees as a group of lying politicians serving their own
interests.

Ali came to the University in hopes of sparking the motivation
for students to overcome their own apathy about what he called an
unjust war in Iraq and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But
he said he also wanted to make clear the faults of the Bush
administration by attacking the president’s justification for
the war in Iraq.

Ali said Bush originally tried to legitimize the war on the
pretenses of U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction. Yet Bush knew that no weapons ever existed, and up
until now no weapons have been found, Ali said.

“It’s not that the intelligence was faulty,
it’s that politicians wanted intelligence to supply them with
the information to give them the pretenses for conducting the
war,” he said.

Ali explained it has become evident in the aftermath of the war
that the reasons for invading Iraq were based on lies. He added
that statements from former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill
indicate the Bush administration had begun preparing for an
invasion of Iraq since Bush was elected.

All the administration needed was a pretext to start a war, so
they began using blurred photos of an Iraqi factory to spread the
lie that it was creating weapons of mass destruction, Ali said.

Ali said the lies justifying the war were apparent to him even
before the war began, because he said he knew America would never
attack a country that possesses nuclear weapons that could be used
against them. “If America did attack, (Saddam) would have
used it,” Ali said.

Now Iraq is being looted by America, Ali added. “The only
people who can benefit from this occupation are the big
corporations. … They will strip it of its
resources.”

He added the occupation has only made things worse in Iraq, and
said the best outcome is for American forces to leave.
“People say that (leaving) will create an even messier
situation. But look at how messy it is right now,” Ali
said.

But Stephen MacGuidwin, president of the College Republicans,
said critics like Ali have no basis for their claims because the
world is safer without Saddam and his dictatorship. “We have
disposed of one of the greatest tyrants in the world. We ended
genocide — 250,000 Iraqis were killed under his regime.
Critics can’t refute that,” MacGuidwin said.

He added that Bush did not fabricate any of the evidence. Bush
was acting on the best intelligence available to him, which was the
same intelligence used by previous presidents, MacGuidwin said.

But Ali said one thing he hopes students learn from his lecture
is never to trust politicians. “A politician’s
intention for wars are always told in lies,” Ali said.

Ali elaborated on the administration’s lies by adding that
the American political system acts by a double standard. He then
questioned the current Democratic candidates’ motivations for
criticizing Bush’s war on Iraq. “Would the Democrats
have spoken out against the president if there had been no
resistance against the war? There’s always that
pretense.”

But this flawed system of American politics can be changed if
the American people think for themselves and look past the
mainstream media, Ali said. Americans have to combat their own
apathy and challenge their leaders, he added. “This apathy is
an extreme danger to democracy,” he said.

Ali said change can happen if Americans come together, but he
added, “As long as people carry on accepting things, things
will carry on.”

University alum Ryan Winn said Ali’s lecture was effective
because it kept emotion out of the arguments and instead offered
real political solutions. “His points about the apathy of
American citizens, which I am guilty of, it’s something that
we have to do something about. We have to add some enthusiasm and
pressure to the government. It is extremely necessary.”

Rackham student Najeeb Jan said he agreed with many of
Ali’s viewpoints but said removing U.S. soldiers from Iraq
and hoping that the Iraqis peacefully resolve the solution was
something he did not agree with. “Whether the resistance
targets soldiers or civilians, we still need to be critical of
resistance also,” he added.

Last night’s event was sponsored by Students Allied for
Freedom and Equality.

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