Tony Benn has claimed that if journalists like Jeremy Paxman were sent to do diplomatic work, there would be a nuclear war every week, writes Paul Donovan.
Speaking at a debate marking the 30th anniversary of New Internationalist magazine, Benn was justifying his decision to visit Baghdad and interview Saddam Hussein.
“If diplomacy was left to journalists, you’d have a nuclear war every week,” he said.
Benn justified the interview by saying it established there was no link between the Iraqi leader and Al-Qaida terrorists.
Other speakers in the New Internationalist debate included Professor Sir Laurence Freedman of the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London; Yasser Alaskary of the Iraqi Prospect Organisation; Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi exile; and Kerim Yildiz of the Kurdish Human Rights Organisation.
The session was chaired by Anthony Barnett of Open Democracy.net.
The two Iraqi speakers took opposing views on the war. Alaskary claimed 500,000 Iraqis had died because of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the argument should be about what replaces the tyrant, not how he is removed. Zangana, who was tortured before fleeing Iraq, said the war would just bring more suffering and death to the country.
New Internationalist magazine was established as a co-operative in 1973 and now sells 80,000 copies a month worldwide .