Sunshine Week transcript! Craig Murray | American Dream Debate | Oxford Union
In January, former British ambassador Murray spoke at back-to-back Oxford Union events, on the 23rd at the Sam Adams Awards, and on the 24th to debate the motion: "This house still dreams the American Dream." He spoke in opposition. Other speakers and their YouTubes, pro and con, eight in total, are listed here.
This is the second video in his post, Of This I Am Proud. No doubt the other American Dream debaters are worthy of their own transcripts; I just haven't done them, actually haven't watched more than a couple of them. Haven't heard anyone say what I'd say, and I haven't even thought through what my whole speech would be. But I know I have one in me. Have you? I'd love to hear it.
Craig Murray | American Dream Debate | Oxford Union
January 24, 2013
Length: 10 min
MOTION: THIS HOUSE STILL DREAMS THE AMERICAN DREAM
Craig Murray gives his argument in opposition.
CRAIG MURRAY: Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much indeed. I was speaking here last night, I'm having a kind of Groundhog Day problem, but those of you who were here and saw me last night will remember that I said that I’d spoken in this hall on many an occasion but last night was the first time I’d ever done so sober. And I promised you if you came back again tonight you would see me speak drunk, and I’m glad to say I’m a man of my word.
I’ve got nothing in particular to say to you, so I thought I'd just be rude about the proposition.
I should say that the last speaker, I should make a declaration of interest, Ray [McGovern] has been a very good friend of mine for many years and I’ve stayed at his home in Washington. Until tonight I never knew that he had the worst Russian accent in the world! [laughter] And the worst German accent, and even for an Irishman the worst Irish accent [laughter, reaction], which is really quite extraordinary. I’m not going to be rude about the second speaker for the proposition because he was an intellectual and I have no idea what he said.
However, the first speaker for the proposition, I did understand at times and I thought he made a very decent summation of what the American dream actually is, where he said it’s the idea that every generation will have a standard of living better than the last generation, and the idea that anybody can become president. Well, when we saw George W. Bush, we all thought anybody can become president.
At least if their father had also been president and their brother was able to fix the election in Florida, but, um – the trouble with that dream is of course not only is it true that power in the United States is really, as we heard, held by a very, very small and wealthy elite, it’s that the idea is fundamentally flawed, because the idea that every generation would have a standard of living better than the last is fundamentally an idea about consumption and about consumerism and about the idea that human happiness lies in owning a lot of stuff. Because the truth is that infinite economic growth is not possible in a world of finite resources, and the American dream of infinite consumption has led the world into climate change and approaching disaster, and the United States has been the home of climate change denial and of blocking attempts to tackle the problem on the international stage. And that’s the real truth of where the American dream leads us. The American dream leads us into the idea that what you need to do is consume as many of the world’s resources as fast as you can, and to take for yourself as large a personal portion of that consumption as you can, and that the more you consume the more successful you are, until you are so fat and bloated and stupid you end up watching Fox News while eating McDonald’s and generally being entirely unpleasant.
I should say, I should say that it is not necessary to oppose this motion to view the idea that Europeans or British people are any more intelligent. It is not necessary to dislike Americans. It is not necessary to dislike Americans; I only do it as a hobby.
But we have to look at where the American dream has led us, and it has led us into an idea of American exceptionalism. And the truth is, the American dream was only ever founded on the dream for a small number of people, and it always ignored subclasses. The most obvious point being that the American dream involved the near annihilation of the Native American Indians, and the shameful history of land grab, of lies, of massacre, of disease, of starvation that has been the lot of the Native American Indians, in the pursuit of the American dream for a different people, is very true. And I would also say this, because I think I haven’t been controversial enough, that it seems dreadful to me that a key plank of American foreign policy is to repeat what was done to the American Indians and help Israel to do it to the Palestinians in terms of expropriating their land, herding them into camps, and starving them. That is the truth of the American dream today.
Um, I was once a British diplomat. I was a British ambassador. I saw how the American dream works out in terms of the so-called war on terror. I saw the extraordinary rendition program. I saw intelligence from the CIA got under torture. I used to be in Uzbekistan and I would see the long list of intelligence from the CIA which people had signed up to under torture in which they would confess and give lists of names of Al Qaeda members who under torture people would admit to being themselves members of Al Qaeda and say, “These people are members of Al Qaeda too.” And often the person being tortured had never met any of these people, had no idea who they were; they were simply signing lists to stop being tortured. Occasionally I knew people on the lists, because the Karimov regime, exactly like the Mubarak regime or like many, many other dictatorships of whom the CIA and the United States have cooperated, they wanted to demonize their own opposition by labeling everybody as Al Qaeda. I once saw a CIA list of Al Qaeda members which included a man I knew, a professor, and that gentleman I have had dinner in his home and he was a Jehovah’s Witness. There are not many Jehovah’s Witnesses in Al Qaeda.
I am willing to bet that Al Qaeda don’t even try and recruit Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I’m quite sure that Jehovah’s Witnesses would try and recruit Al Qaeda if they go there –
– knocking on the cave door saying, “Mr. Bin Laden asked me to bring round a copy of the Watchtower.”
The truth is that like so much of the narrative of the war on terror, it was an exaggeration of the threat, an exaggeration that pretends that America faces an existential threat from the rest of the world in order to justify the massive control of the military-industrial complex in the United States, and that too is what the American dream has become. The American so-called Dream consists of American exceptionalism. The American so-called Dream consists of not signing Kyoto. The American so-called Dream consists of refusing to join the International Criminal Court. The American so-called Dream consists of the fact that they can extradite people from the United Kingdom to face criminal charges in the United States where that person has no defense before the UK courts and they are extradited to the United States despite the fact they have never been there, let alone having committed a crime in the United States.
Ladies and gentlemen, we do not support rampant corruption. We do not support rampant selfishness. We do not support the destruction of international law. And what George Bush did to the United Nations in illegally invading Iraq was just as devastating as what Hitler did to the League of Nations when he invaded Poland, and I ask you to oppose this motion. Thank you.
So how'd the debate turn out? That was actually the second time Murray had posted the video. In the first, he tells us: "The Motion 'This house still dreams the American Dream' was defeated."