One wonders how to respond to Christopher Hitchens’ neo conservative turn. The Slate columnist has no sponsors or money men to feed him his lines. He’s candid. He doesn’t mind making enemies of toddies, the powerful, and the overly cautious. And he’s arrogant…insuferably so (a non sequitar surely, but then I take liberties in painting a dreary picture of my character study).
The Oxford educated Hitchens (Wikipedia bio), zealous supporter of the Iraq War as the primary fight against international terrorism believes that the left wing community’s comprised of a bunch of “cossaks” (this is the way he termed participants at the YearlyKos gathering in Vegas earlier this month). A nasty term indeed! The fact that cossak maraudors on horseback made skewers of my Jewish relatives in the White Pale gives me reason to respond to this portly, port guzzling polemicist with equal vigour. But instead of calling Mr. Hitchens a fascist term of endearment, I’ll refrain from playground fighting. So here goes my delicate analysis.
Despite bleeding heart accusations against him, it’s always been difficult for left-wingers to refute Hitchen’s lib credentials. The former Nation writer exposed the dirty wars in the 70s; opposed nuclear weapons on the grounds that they force the compulsory enlistment of civilians in war in the 80s; produced a scathing documentary on Henry Kissinger in the 90s; and has always believed that Zionism is based on lies. (even while he supports the existential right of a Jewish State). The last one wins brownie points in the left community!
CH: …Mrs. Clinton, had she been in Las Vegas for the Kos conference, could have met [terrorist-sympathizers] for herself. They’re a very large force in her own party. These are people who think George Bush blew up the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, openly say so, and circulate books and videos to that effect, and hold conferences to try and prove it, people who compare the Zarqawi gangsters in Iraq to the American founding fathers and the Minutemen, and who, well, shall I…do I need say more?
Hitchens, the self-professed contrarian’s wrong in equating those fed up with a Bush administration that’s lied about WMD and exagerated the relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda as Chamberlain-esque appeasers. Hussein was not Hitler. The Iraq War may strike neo cons like Hitchens as a replay of the “Good War” but its more like the internecine, sectarian conflict that plagued Lebanon for 2 decades. Saddam, remember, didn’t systematically order the extermination of an entire population….And Chamberlain appeasers?…well you get my point…
Then there’s the corporate angle and fuzzy math.
A contrarian sometimes has it right, sometimes not. The loose lips and poison pen of Hitchens has become a “wrecking ball” (to use Hume’s favorite metaphor) in exposing distortion of fact over the years. But then contrarians, even the entertaining ones, are sometimes flat out wrong.
Norman Podhoeretz’s grand argument in Commentary on World War IV, notwithstanding, the neo con line is crap. Not because it doesn’t try to be noble, but because in trying to transform the world into a Judeo-Christian zone of operation it’s bound to meet opposition from those who reject prevailing western morals. How can you expect to change hearts and minds through the barrel of a gun anyhow?
So long as Iraqi troop units remain ill prepared to takeover responsibilities, expect a protracted US presence in Iraq. (see David Corn’s blog post “Cheney’s Lousy Numbers” where Cheney inflates/distorts the # of Iraqi troops presently ready to take up arms against insurgents).
Last June, the Pentagon said three Iraqi battalions were ready to fight by themselves. By last fall, that number had dropped to one. By February, that number had fallen to zero, meaning there were no Iraqi units capable of taking on the insurgency without help.
Iraq’s a wasteland of rival gangs and anarchy. Only a dictator following the pattern of the Nazi regime’s Decree for the Protection of the People and the State could take order of a country like Iraq. And though invoking fascism is far from a savory notion, there’s no solution that won’t, at least in the short term, deter further guerilla battles from taking place.