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Monday, July 21, 2008

Wally of the Week: Christopher Hitchens

Well, it looked like it would be a close contest, but in the end Hitch won this week's prize as easily as Padraig Harrington bagged his second British Open yesterday.
In his column for the Gray Lady, Hitch writes:

"If we had left Iraq according to the timetable of the anti-war movement the Iraqi people would now be tyrannised by the gloating sadists of Al Qaeda"

What a thoroughly dishonest piece of writing. There was no Al Qaeda presence in Iraq at all until Hitchens' 'liberators' moved into the country in 2003. Now he and his fellow neocons use the presence of Al Qaeda to justify continued military occupation of the country. It's a bit like me driving a bulldozer into your house and then saying I've got to stay in occupation of it because otherwise gangs of burglars and other ne'er do wells would come in and take over.

But that's not all the hogwash that Hitch is spouting this week. He also writes:
"Most people appear now to believe that it is quite wrong to mention Saddam Hussein even in the same breath as (a)WMD, or (b) state-sponsored terrorism. I happen to disagree".

Well, Hitch old son, the reason most people believe that Saddam should not be mentioned in the same breath as WMD or state-sponsored terrorism is that no evidence was produced to connect him with either.

The great irony is that when it comes to religion, Hitch is scathing about those who believe in things without producing evidence. But it seems that when it comes to neo-connery, the same rules of evidence don't apply.

Hitch is of course, the pin-up boy of trans-atlantic neoconservatism. But next time you read a neocon writer drooling over the great man's utterings and praising his principled and long-standing opposition to Baathist and Islamist tyranny, just remind them of the man who once wrote this:

"The Baghdad regime is the first oil-producing government to opt for 100-per-cent nationalisation, a process completed with the acquisition of foreign assets in Basrah last December. It was the first to call for the use of oil as a political weapon against Israel and her backers. It gives strong economic and political support to the ‘Rejection Front’ Palestinians who oppose Arafat’s conciliation and are currently trying to outface the Syrians in Beirut. And it has a leader — Saddam Hussain — who has sprung from being an underground revolutionary gunman to perhaps the first visionary Arab statesman since Nasser."

Yup, you have it: Christopher Hitchens, founder member of the Saddam Hussein Fan Club.


Anonymous said...

Good post, Neil. The man is a complete ignoramus.

Anonymous said...

Well, Hitch old son, the reason most people believe that Saddam should not be mentioned in the same breath as WMD or state-sponsored terrorism is that no evidence was produced to connect him with either.

Actually, there was loads of evidence to connect Saddam Hussein with state-sponsored terrorism, from providing financial backing to Palestinian suicide bombers to providing safe havens for the likes of Abu Nidal.

And it is also a matter of demonstrable fact that Saddam not only had a WMD development programme but also used such weapons on both the Iranians and the Kurds in the 1980s. How much more evidence do you need?

I agree that there was no evidence linking Saddam specifically with Al-Qaeda, either prior to 2003 or (obviously) later - but making a more sweeping claim that he had no connection with terrorism of any kind is just nonsensical. Just who is whitewashing Saddam here?

KNaylor said...

Hitchens is not an ignoramus but like most radical journalists with a desire to develop a reputation for themselves as fearless tribunes of freedom and justice he projected his own ideological fantasies on to the 'liberation' of Iraq in 2003.

Hitchens writes "If we had left Iraq according to the timetable of the anti-war movement the Iraqi people would now be tyrannised by the gloating sadists of Al Qaeda".

Well, that's impossible to verify as a second conditional sentence because the anti-war movement has no 'timetable' apart from 'troops out' or to try and rachet up the threat of terror within Britain if this is not done.

It's unfortunate that the anti-war movement is dominated by the remnants of the hard left and those who see Iraq and the war in Leninist terms as a historical inevitability rather than just a bungled attempt to secure energy security whilst introducing a secular market state democracy.

Anyway, the idiocy and fanaticism of the StWC and Respect does not mean that the neocons and fellow travellers of a radical US Imperialism should be let offf the hook. Those like Hitchens tend to see everything as a polemical battle.

If the anti-war movement was dominated in Britain by those like Galloway who fawned on the notion of Arab nationalist dictatorships, that was hardly a reason in itself to see the 'liberation' of Iraq as a defeat for the global threat of neo-totalitarianism everywhere.

Hitchens tends to think of himself romantically in the tradition of Orwell who saw the similarities between the power worship amongst those on the left who supported Stalin's dictatorship and Fascists. Whilst that might help explain a dolt like Galloway's politics, it hardly had much relevance to Iraq at the time of the invasion in 2003.

Hitchens just rolled together the Baathist regime in Baghdad with 'Islamofascists' because he sees them al in a manichaean fashion as part of a seamless web of evil.

That conflation explains why Hitchens sees all those fighting the US in Iraq as just esentially evil jihadists and why in his God is Not Great he has to assert that religion poisons everything and religion is germane to totalitarian thinking.

By 2005, however, it became clear that Sunni militias themselves were attacking Al Qaida. Hitchens himself wrote about that in a Slate article ( January 16 ,2005 )but denied they were insurgents because he does not like the idea they might be revolutionaries or rebelling against the liberating force.

So ,obviously, trying to append the term 'jihadist' or Bin Ladenist, as Hitchens has consistently done, to all those opposed to the US occupation is just an attempt eradicate this important distinction between Al Qaida and groups like the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades and other Sunni militia groups.

The conflations allow Hitchens to see the Iraq war as part of some crusade for enlightenment against the dark forces of evil and to portray Saddam as a metaphysical evil. Even if he did not possess WMD he can be mentioned 'in the same breath' because he had a latent intent to acquire them, had used them in the past and would use them again.

That's one of the the lame ex post facto rationalisations anyway. If it is not one reason then it is easy to shift the justification to another such as 'state sponsored terrorism'.

Yet Saddam, in fact, did not sponsor jihadists. One of the reasons Bin Laden turned his fury against the USA in 1991 was that the House of Saud allowed US troops into the Holy Land of Islam without allowing him to join the fight to push Iraq out of Kuwait.

Hitchens can't accept such facts because they don't fit in with his creed. In God is Not Great he even denies that Saddam's regime was a secular one just because he made demagogic statements including Allah and Islamist tropes. By that logic the USA does not have a secular form of government either.

Hitchens is a busted flush and his inability to admit he got it wrong, as Ignatieff and Hari have done is becoming ever more embarassing. It seems certain atheists really are as dogmatic and faith based as fundamentalists.

Anonymous said...

Dilip Hiro says that Hussein gave money to ALL Palestinian families who lost members to the Israeli murder machine, not just suicide bombers.

Anonymous said...


You should have been more honest in your posting, by stating the fact that the Iraqi intelligence had KILLED Abu Nidal. and claimed he committed suicide to avoid being arrested.

Secondly, Palestinians are freedom fighters. you still have to find a terrorist packed by Saddam to prove your point, unless you are working to claim the title of this week from Hitchens.

lets not forget the US is packing the terrorist israeli state with 3 billions of military aid annually.

Anonymous said...

Hello Neil,
I am trying to attract attention to my article "Iraq and around" that can be found on my site

In this article I try to show that some taboos established by culture influence and limit analysis of political experts creating obstacles on the way to solution in Iraq and not only in Iraq. I believe this issue did not attract enough attention so far.

Thank you.
Alex Yacobson