Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Shorter Christopher Hitchens (A Collection)

The Brother Karimov:

It occurs to me that some involved in the war on terror may be opportunists. Nevertheless, the joke's on that fool Michael Kinsley if he thinks we pro-war people are a bunch of old school, Jeanne Kirkpatrick-style hairsplitters and hypocrites.

If Hitchens had been paying attention, he'd have known that the opportunists aren't just among dissident-boiling allies overseas. Right after 9-11, James Baker (I'm sure someone with Lexis-Nexis can find it) blamed the intelligence failure on post-Watergate congressional oversight. What he meant was the Church and Pike Committees, which uncovered the massive crimes -- including the installing or aiding of dictators similar to Karimov -- the United States secret agencies had wrought. It's no surprise, then, that Baker's party and the administration for whose interests he functioned as velvet hammer during that long November in Florida, is cheerfully doing business with "good" sociopaths like Karimov so as to battle the "bad" sociopaths like Saddam and the Taliban. Hitchens in this piece knows he echos the old hairsplitting distinctions Jeanne Kirkpatrick used to excuse US friendships with dictators during the Cold War. He insists that Karimov is not morally equivalent to Saddam. Yet he also knows that he is on record righteously trashing Kirkpatrick's similar arguments when they were fresh. His defense? "Irony", as always.


Stop The Masochistic Insanity:

If Muslims can't deal with a little Koran-flushing, too bad for them.

Yet more evidence of what killed the deep thinker and generous human being that was Christopher Hitchens: unhinged hatred of religion. I have no doubt that he's consistent in his own mind; if "the forces of secularism" had flushed the Bible or the Talmud instead of the Koran down the toilet, inspiring riots and violence, he'd blame the reaction and absolve the instigator then, too. But then rightwing America, his new friends, are only "forces of secularism" in a fucking dream world inhabited by no one else except Christopher Hitchens. I guess that's "an irony", too, so carry on, Hitch.

I find it useful to compare Hitchens with Pat Buchanan. Where Hitchens could never be called an isolationist and Buchanan could never be termed an internationalist, their inconsistencies reveal their biases. Hitchens was against ideological war when that war degraded democracies under the auspices of battling a monolithic evil (The Communist World). Buchanan was for that particular ideological war. Hitchens is for an ideological war that degrades existing democracies when that war is fought on the grounds of battling a different monolithic evil (The Muslim World, "Terror"); Buchanan, feeling ecumenical, is against that particular ideological war.


History and Mystery:

Everyone in Iraq, since the invasion, fighting against the United States and its selected government there, is either a jihadist or a Ba'athist, therefore the New York Times is a propagandic organ in calling such fighters "insurgents"

One expects this sort of denial from Richard Perle, not Hitchens, because it directly relates to the delusion that we would be met with cheers and roses, greeted as liberators. To a degree, we were, but then we occupied Iraq and tried to set up a hard puppet at first, a soft one now. This sort of thing, compounded with Abu Ghraibs, pisses off any indigenous population: as even Dear Leader said, "no one likes to be occupied". Hitchens's claim has been explicitly refuted by General Myers, implicitly refuted by Paul Wolfowitz and Bush himself.


Labour Friends of Iraq Debate:

Okay, so we did arm Saddam Husssein and so are responsible for what he did. Doesn't that mean we should make up for it by removing him? How do you like that argument, lefties?

Well, yes, but it'd help if we could trust the people removing him, which is hard to do when it's the same people who armed him. There's no credibility there. Also, we should only pay this debt if we can do it without injuring our own country. We know how that's turned out. Have those people who armed Saddam ever admitted that they were wrong for doing it? Why should we trust them? They aren't trustworthy. As it was, Saddam had no WMD, was in poor health, and his sons would have killed each other upon the succession. Now, matters are worse. Hitchens's beloved Kurds were effectively independent already and enjoyed stability and success because of the no-fly zone, which worked because it was only protection, not occupation.


Unmitigated Galloway:

I may be a "drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay", but George Galloway is a Stalinist and Ba'athist, corrupt, and linked to anti-semites; he may have "temporarily" won a libel suit in Britain against such charges, but let him try that shit here.

It's touching to see Hitchens defend the hacks of the Senate here, much less the supposed majesty of the chamber itself. Galloway gave the committee exactly what it deserved, his arguments against the war were accurate, and that's the real reason why Hitchens is livid. Incapable of believing that Oona King lost her seat to Galloway on the merits of positions, Hitchens lets fly the accusation that it was really because of racism and anti-semitism that King lost, the latter being a real gift to the Kristolmethodists, who delight in being fed their daily dose of tribalism.

For British readers, Hitchens still smears Galloway, but stops short of implicitly smearing the voters of Bethnal Green and Bow as racists. Let it not be said that Hitchens doesn't tailor to his audience.