1.07.2006

Another Christopher Hitchens Rant

My chronicles of Christopher Hitchens’ self-delusion continue…

In yet another ridiculous Slate column we get this, to use Chris’ favorite term, piffle:
Then came the moment we all now yawn about, with millions of people waiting patiently and getting purple fingers, which has since been repeated twice, to the point where elections in Iraq—Iraq!—have come to seem routine, even banal.
Who thinks this? Answer: No one. Yes, believe it or not, even we anti-war crazies think elections are a good thing, and, oh my god, we actually believe the Iraqi people show great courage when they risk their lives to vote. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, and we can be anti-war and support elections, too.

You may yawn about the elections, Chris, but I still happen to think they are a big deal and, as fraudulent as they may be, one of the few bright spots in this mess. Don’t project your own boredom with elections onto others.

Hitchens then goes on to take on Noam Chomsky and his followers. I lean firmly to the left, and not even I take Chomsky seriously on most issues. Once again, Hitchens tries to make the extreme left wing position speak for run of the mill democrats. Maybe I should start putting Ann Coulter’s words in Hitchens’ mouth.

Then, after trying to convince himself that the idea that a new Iraqi government will be Shi’ite dominated isn’t a foregone conclusion (yeah, riiiight), he meanders into a discussion over whether elections preceding the formation of a viable civil society and democratic institutions can succeed. This is a subject that has been studied by academics for decades, and was the a key component of my bible during grad school . I have no idea what point Hitchens is trying to make regarding this. In trying to simplify one of the more complex issues in the political science, he cites a couple of examples which I guess he thinks buttress his position, if you can call Putin a good example.

He closes with the following jaw dropper:
The man who most often tried to rescue his domestic position by the resort to war—"to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels," as the Bard has it—was, in our time, Saddam Hussein. Huge cemeteries and mass graves, in Iraq and Iran and Kuwait, testify to the horror of this enterprise.
Wait, wait, wait a second. Hitchens is arguing that domestic politics were behind his wars with Kuwait and Iran. That's simply rewriting history and hoping you don't notice. The Iran-Iraq War began, as many wars do, over a long running border feud between the two nations. You can argue that any border war, whether in Latin America or the Middle East has an element of domestic politics and national pride associated with it, but using it like this is misleading and irresponsible. Saddam may have had expansionist dreams, but he was not wagging the dog to deflect attention away from domestic problems. Any "giddy minds" were premptively snuffed out.

The invasion of Kuwait occurred due to a myriad of (misguided) factors. Among these: bitterness over debts owed to Kuwait, Saddam’s ever present goal of Pan-Arabism, border feuds (again), attempting to gain a lucrative port, accusations of Kuwait tapping into Iraqi oil fields, and a historical claim to Kuwait as part of Iraq. These reasons are by and large indefensible, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was no doubt a mistake and justifiably opposed and repelled by most of the world. But that does not mean you can go back and change the circumstances by which it happened so it fits conveniently into your argument.

There is already an overload of intellectual dishonesty surrounding the war, and Christopher Hitchens, while doing his best to appear intellectually superior to those who disagree with him, adds to it on a weekly basis.

P.S. My Hitchens posts may be a thing of the past, as I've just now found a long running site, Hitchens Watch, dedictaed to debunking the "sinister piffle" Hitchens spews.
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