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Disingenuous Liaisons: Christopher Hitchens & the Iraq War

Publié le 16 février, 2009 | Pas de commentaires

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In a video interview which took place on February 7, 2009, on France 24 English, Christopher Hitchens made the following, astonishing, statement when explaining how he came to support Bush’s Iraq war:

“If you look at the drapeau, the flag in my lapel, which is that of the Iraqi Kurds, almost all of my Iraqi Kurdish friends are old leftists, old strugglers against facism. The Iraqi left, non-Kurdish, Arab Iraqi left, likewise, long struggle against Saddam Hussein. My solidarity with la gauche in Iraq is the main reason I took the position that I did. After all, it was Clinton and Gore who said, ‘we will have to take out Saddam Hussein’. It was the British Labour party that first said, ‘there will have to be a confrontation with him’, under Tony Blair, in 1999, long before Bush was elected.”

That’s as may be, and one wonders how many Iraqi Kurdish friends make up “almost all”. (And since when does he take his lead from Clinton, Gore and Blair?!) But what is anyone to make of that famous photo of Donald Rumsfeld, in Bagdhad, 1983, shaking hands amiably after a 90-minute meeting? By ’99, it was agreed in the West that someone had to ‘take him out’, after creating him a decade and a half earlier. But who was it that had him as their man, but Rumsfeld and his cohorts of an earlier age, who arrived 20 years later for the Bush administration to mastermind the Iraq war from bin Laden’s aircraft attacks. How can Hitchens be so tone-deaf to the chessplaying mentality of the neo-cons, a man for whom language is heard in terms of its ‘subtle registers’? He commits a fault of which he accuses only his basest opponents, sins of omission. Rather than seeing that he, as an ideologue, is historically prone to ignoring the underlying causes of any wars – namely money and power over resources – he has subjugated the fact that the neo-cons had plans to invade Iraq for oil and used 9/11 as their excuse, to his belief in a world-saving revolution of ‘democritization’ in “terrorist-breeding” countries.

The fact that he has written a book on Thomas Paine would prepare one to think he knew better. There was revolution in the United States, revolution in France, but his cast-off nation, Britain, had no such freedom from monarchy. One can at times think the bitterness left over from this and his thwarted Trotskyist hopes have cause him to view the US and their CIA-led military industrial complex – not to mention the Cheney-led Halliburton, as well as Blackwater and Lockheed – with rose-coloured glasses. Not to mention that by the end of the interview he sees fit to claim America for a wayward colony once again, as though all that’s best in America is actually English, and then pronounces on the Pope’s « mistake » in “preferring unity” with some deposed bishop of a pre-Vatican II sect, against the sanctity of his state-relations with the Jews, who pretend to feel threatened by this ineffectual codger’s disbelief in gas-chambers. They created this “crisis”, and now Hitchens must run a news-cycle, sullying his reputation as a champion of scoffing atheists, in defending the Jewish position – why? because, he has suddenly taken his remote “Jewish” heritage for an identity? He is too little to too many. After withholding his condemnation of Mugabe until he could rationalize deposing him as having become the head of a “rogue state”, by focusing on the argument that ignoring cholera in Zimbabwe may be “germ warfare” against surrounding countries, I thought he couldn’t get more off track. I was wrong.

We don’t want selective amnesia in people whose pages we expect to be a forum for the cutting edge of truth and reason. If Hitchens must justify his support for Iraq, many years later and many hundreds of thousands of deaths later, by claiming that the fall of Saddam Hussein and his support for ‘la gauche’ was the deciding factor, I can only believe that he has fallen victim to the plague that infects all those who begin with ideologies and end with the tragedy of misplaced trust, and must view his opinions from now on with a suitably jaundiced eye.



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