i hope you get cancer™

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In vino veritas, again

The third anniversary of the US-led rape of Iraq has given renewed popularity to the sport of Hitchens-checking. For this we must thank not only the roly-poly entertainer himself, but also our friends at Hitchens Watch, who are daily uncovering vintage nuggets of his pure PNAC-inspired bollocks on Iraq which would be risibly ironic were the subject not such a hideous crime.

Inspired by HW, I have been pottering about during a sleepless night caused by a bad cold, and found this beauty from November 2002. As Tubby admits, "part of the charm of the regime-change argument ...is that it depends on premises and objectives that cannot, at least by the administration, be publicly avowed." Helpfully, Hitch puts his boozy candour at the disposal of those who might, in late '02, be guessing as to what those premises and objectives might be.

"Saddam Hussein is not going to survive. His regime is on the verge of implosion. It has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Like the Ceausescu edifice in Romania, it is a pyramid balanced on its apex (its powerbase a minority of the Sunni minority), and when it falls, all the consequences of a post-Saddam Iraq will be with us anyway."

Oh OK. So, no need to invade then? All that stuff you've hawked round over the past three years about the "threat" posed by Saddam was either irrelevant or a lie. So why are all those people dying, Chris? Do tell.

"To suggest that these consequences—Sunni-Shi'a rivalry, conflict over the boundaries of Kurdistan, possible meddling from Turkey or Iran, vertiginous fluctuations in oil prices and production, social chaos—are attributable only to intervention is to be completely blind to the impending reality. The choices are two and only two—to experience these consequences with an American or international presence or to watch them unfold as if they were none of our business. (I respect those who say that the United States should simply withdraw from the Middle East, but I don't respect them for anything but their honesty.)"

Sorry Chris, not with you. You did mention the O-word, did I get that right? And you also reckon we can prevent Sunni-Shia rivalry, social chaos, etc.? And please - Chris - spare me the knee-jerk patronising reply in those cut-glass vowels of yours, would you? Be a love.

"Once this self-evident point has been appreciated it becomes a matter of making a virtue of necessity. If an intervention helps rescue Iraq from mere anarchy and revenge, some of the potential virtues are measurable in advance. The recuperation of the Iraqi oil industry represents the end of the Saudi monopoly, and we know that there are many Wolfowitzians who yearn for this but cannot prudently say so in public. The mullahs in Iran hate America more than they hate Saddam, while Iranian public opinion—notice how seldom "the Iranian street" is mentioned by peaceniks—takes a much more pro-American view. It's hard to picture the disappearance of the Saddam regime as anything but an encouragement to civil and democratic forces in Tehran, as well as in Bahrain, Qatar, and other gulf states that are experimenting with democracy and women's rights. Turkey will be wary about any increase in Kurdish autonomy (another good cause by the way), but even the Islamists in Turkey are determined to have a closer association with the European Union, and the EU has made it clear that Turkey's own Kurds must be granted more recognition before this can occur. One might hope that no American liberal would want to demand any less."

Well at least he was right about the oil.