Just Once More On Hitch
I want to move on from the Hitchens-Galloway experience, but I do feel the need to say a couple of things. First, I'm not a blind Hitchens partisan, and I've criticized him many times, in harsh language, on this blog. Second, it takes five minutes of listening to him speak to realize that the whole notion of him as a sell-out, as disingenuous, cynical, soused, whatever it is, is nonsense. He argues for the causes he does because he really believes in them---he really believes in the extension of democracy to immiserated parts of the world, and believes it in a way that the neocons definitely don't. If he's wrong, it's because of his stubborness about principle.
It's got to be obvious to everyone by now, including Hitchens, that the Bush administration simply could not be trusted with the task of rebuilding Iraq, and that in the absence of WMDs, the correct move would have been to wait until an administration with the tiniest facility for nation building came in. Only if there were simply no theoretical possibility of competent management of the war would attacking in March 2003 have been correct. It's the last point, in effect, that is the source of my disagreement with Hitchens. A just war, yes, though criminally executed. A necessary war, not exactly. What would have been less entertaining, though much more enlightening than Hitchens vs. Galloway, would have been Hitchens vs. Michael Walzer. (This is solispsistic but it would have been more comfortable for me too; I've gradually moved from Hitchens' to Walzer's position on the war.)
Oh, last note on Hitch, Hitchens never defended the substance of any of David Irving's claims, he only defended Irving's right to publish (which he has) and said that Irving was brilliant (which he is). Brilliant and deranged, and brilliant and dishonest are not mutually exclusive, and Hitchens has said as much (and more: e.g. something to the effect that Irving's libel trial was correctly decided). The Holocaust denier brush is the one Henry Kissinger chose to try to tar him with, and it backfired pretty spectacularly.
Last note of all: The statement, "Galloway wasn't up to the task, eh? Too bad" gets at everything I dislike about the anti-war movement. Just because somebody opposes Bush's cause in the war does not make him a comrade. Nobody who considers himself a leftist, or a liberal, or a progressive, or whatever the word is now, should identify with a man who takes bribes from Arab dictators, praises them exuberantly, glorifies suicide bombers, traffics in the language of jihad, and makes comfortable profits off the venture. As Hitchens aptly put it, it's disgraceful to go to Syria to praise Casey Sheehan's killers and come to New York to appeal to the emotions of his mother. Galloway is an enemy of the democratic left. When he fails to be "up to the task," the democratic left wins, and vice versa. If you're for the POUM, you're against both Stalin and Franco. You don't mourn Stalin's defeat anymore than you celebrate Franco's victory.