Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hitchens Kicks Butt

Christopher Hitchens, known for his iconoclasm, atheism and liberal ideas has long been a thorn in the side of conservative thinkers. He was a formidable socialist and a fixture in the leftist publications of Britain and America, noted for his brilliance and acidic wit. But Chris has become a vociferous critic of what he describes as "fascism with an Islamic face," and is now sometimes described as a Liberal Hawk or a "neoconservative" -- ooooo scary. Hitch is the author of A Long, Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq.

On Larry King Live last weekend, Hitchens joined an interesting panel to discuss the war in Iraq: Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican, South Carolina, member of the Armed Services Committee; Senator Dianne Feinstein Democrat, California, member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security; and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation.

KING: Senator Feinstein, the government is saying that “Operation Swarmer” was an Iraqi idea and we went along with it. What do you make of that?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: My own belief is that Iraq is on the brink of a civil war and I think it's the most difficult time we've had.

KING: Katrina, don't you count it important that this offensive was an Iraqi idea?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think this is a sign of desperation, a war that is un- winnable, that is unlawful, unnecessary. And you're dealing with the slaughter possibly of innocent women and children and you possibly create more insurgents. The resentment against America is so deep. I think it's very important to understand that the United States is in a brutal occupation.

KING: Chris Hitchens, if what Katrina says is true, what do we do?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: The United States is acting very nobly as the militia for those who don't have a militia, for those who don't have any thuggery or IED at his disposal. It's the best thing we've ever done and shame on people who sneer at it.

KING: Is it going to work, Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: I'm encouraged is because every time they assassinate a judge somebody else wants to be a judge. Every time they kill a policeman, someone else joins the police force. All I can ask of the Iraqi people is to die for their own freedom. If we get it right in Iraq, if a democracy does emerge in Mid East form, it's a sea change. And I know the terrorists are dying for this to fail. The reason they're killing people indiscriminately, they know their worst nightmare is a functioning democracy in the Mid East.

KING: Do you agree, Senator Feinstein?

FEINSTEIN: I've been disappointed that the Iraqis couldn't get their government up and running faster. And when Muqtada al-Sadr went to Basra and blamed the Americans for the bombing of the Golden Mosque that for me was the straw that broke the camel's back.

KING: Katrina …

VANDEN HEUVEL: Again, I think this administration is desperate. We need to understand the staggering cost in lives and money. We have undermined American security. We have killed thousands of Iraqis. We have tarnished our reputation, frayed our alliances, and stretched our military to the utmost.

KING: Chris Hitchens …

HITCHENS: Katrina talks as if we'd left Iraq alone it would be stable or peaceful, not true. We have a responsibility to this country that goes back a long way and we have no right to walk away from it. The question of a civil war is subordinate to the question of defending Iraq from the attempt by a previous fascist regime to come back by terrorist means.

I think it's quite disgraceful to hear anybody say that the deaths involved in this are our fault. Bob Herbert today of the "New York Times" describes hideous atrocities committed by sectarian fascists of the worst type and he says these are the casualties of Bush's war, as if the president was killing them, as if our own forces were doing these murders instead of trying to kill and capture the people who are committing them. All moral sense has now been lost, it seems to me, by the fans of and by the people who come on your show and spout their speaker's notes. It's appalling to me that a Senator from the great state of California can come and say that her broad back was broken by the straw of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Game, set and match to Christopher Hitchens.

Then, yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Hitch wrote:

In February 2004, our Kurdish comrades in northern Iraq intercepted a courier who was bearing a long message from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to his religious guru Osama bin Laden. The letter contained a deranged analysis of the motives of the coalition intervention (to create the State of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates), but also a lethally ingenious scheme to combat it. After a lengthy and hate-filled diatribe, Zarqawi wrote of Iraq's largest confessional group that: These in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in their religious, political and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies . . . and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger.

The cadres of "al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" understood that their main chance was the deliberate stoking of a civil war. And, now that this threat has become more imminent and menacing, it is somehow blamed on the Bush administration. Civil war has replaced the insurgency as the proof that the war is unwinnable. But in plain truth, the "civil war" is and always was the chief tactic of the "insurgency."

Absent federal democracy and power-sharing, there will not just be anarchy and fragmentation and thus a moral victory for jihadism, but opportunist interventions from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (That vortex, by the way, is what was waiting to engulf Iraq if the coalition had not intervened, and would have necessitated an intervention later but under even worse conditions.)

There is a war within the war, as there always is when a serious struggle is under way, but justice and necessity still combine to say that the task cannot be given up.

In closing here is a tidbit from another of my favorite butt kickers, Ben Stein, on the Oscars.

Basically, the sad truth is that Hollywood does not think of itself as part of America, and so, to Hollywood, the
war to save freedom from Islamic terrorists is happening to someone else. It does not concern them except insofar as it offers occasion to mock or criticize George Bush. They live in dreamland and cannot be gracious enough to thank the men and women who pay with their lives for the stars' ability to live in dreamland. This is shameful.

There is no greatness there in the Kodak Theater. The greatness is on patrol in Kirkuk. The greatness lies unable to sleep worrying about her man in Mosul. The greatness sleeps at Arlington National Cemetery and lies waiting for death in VA Hospitals.

God help us that we have sunk so low as to confuse foolish and petty boasting with the real courage that keeps this nation and the many fools in it alive and flourishing on national TV.


Blogger Marmaven said...

Bill, may I please reprint your Hitchens interview on my blog? I'll send you a link to mine:

5:13 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Sure, help yourself.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, GREAT ARTICLE!..thanks Bill!


11:53 AM  

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