Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hitchens: From Anti-Imperialist To Great Liberator To What?

Posted by codemorse

From Red State Son:

In the final spasms of our friendship, Hitchens and I exchanged numerous emails about his apparent lack of interest in the continuing woes of Palestinian life. At that time, Hitchens was consumed with all things Iraq, trying to get others (like me) to share his lust for war and for brutally wiping out whoever Hitch deemed an enemy of civilization.

He droned on and on about the "debt" we owed to the Iraqis for once backing Saddam, and how duty-bound we were to invade their country and spread some of our high-minded ideals their way. After listening to him play this same tune again and again on his battered accordion, I asked him if we owe that much to the Iraqis, and Kurds, that we must directly enter their lives via military force, then what did we owe the Palestinians, whose fate we helped seal long before Saddam rose to power in Iraq?

If you applied Hitchens' rationale for war in Iraq to the issue of Palestine/Israel, then we should have immediately deployed troops to Gaza and the West Bank in order to liberate our Palestinian brothers and sisters from the oppressive Israeli boot. Of course, that would never happen, which led me to suggest to Hitch that perhaps all the high minded rhetoric about "liberating" Iraq wasn't so sincere to begin with. That maybe his once-keen anti-imperial eye was fogged with romantic nonsense. Hitch would hear none of it.

The US, he insisted, was no longer imperialist, but now used its military to further freedom. This was the New Radicalism, and by insisting that the US remained imperialist, I was doomed to be on the wrong side of history. Couldn't I see that the likes of Ahmed Chalabi and Halliburton contractors were today's Mandelas? And so on.Amid all this bluster, Hitchens never really answered why he was largely silent on Palestinian suffering. He'd pipe up now and then in interviews here and there, but his main focus was the glorious war unfolding in Iraq.

Recent events have forced Hitchens to return to the topic for which he was once renowned and often cited. He appeared on Hugh Hewitt's
reactionary radio show on July 12 to talk about Israel, Gaza and Lebanon; and while Hitch showed that he still remembers the basic argument, doubt and trepidation emerge:

HH: Do you think they're morally equivalent, Christopher Hitchens, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel?

CH: No. I couldn't say that I did, but you can hear the reluctance in my voice as a yes/no question. No, it seems to me that especially the suicide bombing campaign that took place, for example, against Jewish old people's homes in Natanya, on the Israeli coast on Passover, quite clearly suggests that these one blows themselves up for a compromise.

HH: Exactly.

CH: And that has, of course, helped to ruin everything. But the Israelis have supreme power, locally, politically. They have supreme power economically. They've, for a long time, had absolute supreme power militarily. For them not to say where they think their border should be, and to keep fooling us and building strange walls that go outside the perimeter of any likely state, makes the moral equivalence thing a little harder to decide with an absolute.

There's a lot more over at Red State Son. I encourage you to read it, especially if you're a fan of Hitchens (past or present).

(heads-up courtesy of This Modern World)


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