Tuesday, July 12, 2005

IRAQ/CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS--

Replying to the following article:

I'm quite familiar with Christopher Hitchens. He's an active proponent of "freedom at the tip of a spear" regardless of the situation. Sometimes I like what he writes, and sometimes I don't. In this case, I don't. Suffice it to say that Hitchens make an enormous mistake in assuming that the situations in Bosnia and Iraq were/are the same. What works for the goose does not work for the gander. I also fail to see why Mr. Hitchens is not actively campaigning for military inventions in Burma, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea, Uzbekistan and EVERY SINGLE OTHER COUNTRY ON EARTH ruled by a dictatorship.

He also makes a technical and logical gaffe in calling Serbian actions in Bosnia "terrorism" just to try to get that dirty word thrown in there to strengthen his argument concerning Iraq. Nobody was calling it that then. 9/11 may have changed a lot of things, but one thing it didn't change was what terrorism is, and what it isn't.

I also find it funny that Christopher Hitchens says "the necons were right about Bosnia" when it was today's neocons--Bush, Delay, Hastert, etc.--that were the most vocal about their opposition to intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo on the grounds of "no threat to national security" and "no nation-building" and "does he have an exit strategy?" (all quotes from major Republican leaders in the aftermath of the operations in Kosovo.. Rank hypocrisy there.

Furthermore, I'd love to ask Mr. Hitchens what he thinks about Bush 1's failure to occupy Iraq in the aftermath of the First Gulf War--when then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney said that occupying Baghdad, with all the money, troop commitments and uprisings that would follow, simply wasn't worth it, and containment was the better option. Was the administration weak then? Complacent? Not sure of itself? And how were things different in 2003 that suddenly made occupying Iraq okay, given the fact that Iraq had just as much to do with 9/11 as Bosnia did? Hmm. How about when Saddam Hussein massacred thousands upon thousands of Kurds in Northern Iraq and Shi'ites in Southern Iraq after Bush 1's unfulfilled promise to support an uprising against Saddam Hussein? Should that have taught us the same lessons as Srebrenica as well--that toppling dictatorships is imperative at all costs, except, apparently, when it isn't? What about Darfur, where at least tens of thousands have been slaughtered, thousands of children starved to death, the refugee camps have been attacked, and tens of thousands of women have been brutally gang-raped by Sudanese paramilitary forces? Seems to have slipped under the radar screen. I'm disturbed by Mr. Hitchens' selective memory on the topic of stopping genocidal dictators. How about the systematic extermination of thousands of political dissidents in Burma, and Aun Sang Suu Kyi's continuing political imprisonment? Don't see that one on there.

No, Mr. Hitchens, I won't let you get away with revising history. Actually, WE--the Clintonistas--were right about Bosnia, while the neocons you worship were telling us to stay out--because, according to Tom Delay (1996 quote in opposition to Bosnia/Kosovo intervention), "A mother has a right to know why her son has to die in a foreign land." And lo and behold, there was a popular revolution in Serbia without a foreign occupation, and now a democratically elected government.

"The continuing hostility of the Eastern Orthodox church?" For stopping genocide? Really? Is Mr. Hitchens actually saying that opponents of intervention in Kosovo were worried about hostility from the Orthodox church, in the same way that opponents of the Iraq invasion are worried about Islamic extremism? Seriously? Is he putting these two in the same ballpark? Amazing. I'll tell you what, Mr. Hitchens: if you can find me an example of a Orthodox-patriarch-worshipping fanatic going to blow up a Baptist or Catholic church because of Bosnia, maybe I'll re-think my post-facto support of our intervention there. It's true that Greek fans burned a few of our flags at their soccer games in the aftermath of the intervention. But that's as far as it got.

Keep in mind that the only thing I have done so far is address the utter folly of using Bosnia as a pretext for Iraq. I could continue to go on about how Iraq would have been the wrong thing to do even if our president hadn't been misled/lying to us (take your pick) about the (non-existent) threat to our national security. If Bush had said, "we're invading Iraq to end dictatorship and genocide" without any mention of a threat to the United States, I'm sure everyone would have said, "um, what about Al-Qaida?" I myself would have said that, but I also would have said that even if Al-Qaida had been eradicated, it still wouldn't have been smart because invading Iraq causes more problems than it solves. In all this, I haven't even talked about how Iraq, unlike Serbia before it, or Germany and Japan in WWII, is not a homogeneous population, but is rather a simmering pot of tribal, ethnic and religious tensions just waiting to boil over, kept in check only by decades of repressive dictatorship. That's a whole essay in and of itself. But if there's one thing I respect Christopher Hitchens for, it is that he sticks to his guns. He would have supported a war in Iraq, if only on that basis. In fact, if Bush had invaded only on that basis, I would have disagreed and I would have thought him foolhardy, but at least I would have respected him for sticking to principle. But this--combined with the utter, complete incompetence of Paul Bremer, the CPA and the Pentagon--is the worst of both worlds. Maybe in Hitchens' idealized world--where the administration had invaded Iraq in a competent and honest way--my reactions would be different. Likewise, if Mr. Hitchens picked his arguments and analogies in a more competent and honest way, my reaction to him would be different as well.

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