"This analysis," says Hitchens, "only works if you think of politics as a process of maneuvering, whereby each party hopes to reap the benefit of the other party's mistake in having either 'lost' Iraq or in having 'acquired' it in the first place." Evidently Hitchens doesn't think of "politics" as this "process of maneuvering," but then it's always been the genius of Hitchens to set himself up in amorphous opposition to a perfectly rational, unremarkable belief, which he usually states with the clarity and concision of a wise advocate before tightening his haunches and beginning a wolf-howl of righteous derision--tuneless, frightening, and senseless. The analysis he's talking about has to do with who does what to whom regarding the various timetables and not-timetables proposed for the American project in Iraq. Hitchens shakes his fist like Groucho: "Whatever it is, I'm against it!"
Hitchens is ostensibly reviewing Peter Galbraith's new book advocating the partition of Iraq, but as usual, his real subject is himself.
What are our irreducible objectives in Iraq? To prevent the country and its enormous resources from falling into the hands of the enemies of civilization--most notably al-Qaida--and to protect what remains of the secular and democratic alliance that we once hoped might emerge to govern the situation. We made--both parties, not just the Bush administration--some serious promises to Iraqi democrats down the years. It would be morally impossible, as well as politically suicidal, to walk away from them."Our irreducible objectives" track awfully closely with the Hitchensian objectives long inarticulated. "Enormous resources" is a euphemism for oil, and that's as irreducible as it gets. On the other hand, "what remains of the secular and democratic alliance that we once hoped might emerge is odd," since what we "once hoped might emerge" never did emerge, and as a result can't offer up any remains. That's the thing about hope: kill it, and it leaves no carcass. The initial "we" and "our" in the passage are pretty standard for America, but the last reads strongly as a "me," despite the em-dash-offset caveat about bipartisan culpability. Who are these Iraqi democrats, and what promises did "we" make over the years, other than the usual promises that a man makes to the deep end of the toilet bowl when the last dribble of stomach acid and Glenfiddich plops from the business end of an otherwise dry heave, and his own reflection in the spoiled water takes on the air of Ahmed Chalabi. There were no Iraqi democrats: there were some exiles who wanted their own opportunity for autocracy.
There comes a heartfelt appeal to
values that are shared across American politics--such as the defense of self-determination and the protection of minorities from massacre and persecution . . .Here you have a citizen and resident of the two nations that invaded and occupied Iraq, who is reviewing a book discussing the merits of partition at the hands of the occupying powers, offering up the "defense of self-determination" as motivating principle of that very invasion. It reminds me of an old joke: A pedophile and a little boy walk into the woods at night. The little boy says, "Mister, it's dark and I'm scared."
The pedophile says, "You're scared? I'm the one who's gotta walk out of here alone."