Hitchens losing it 

Hitchens losing it

I think Christopher Hitchens manages to be both morally and intellectually incoherent this time. Maybe the booze is taking over completely.

He observes that the U.S. military in Iraq is pursuing "a policy of 'force protection' that mandates Americans to treat any questionable action or movement with 'zero tolerance.' It's a moral certainty that many more Iraqi citizens die this way than are ever reported." He says it's probably not wise for the Americans to "gesture at" civilians "from inside a space-suit or armored vehicle, and then shoot them dead if they don't get it right the first time."

Hitchens supports the U.S. war in Iraq. Don't his observations make it sound like the Americans can't tell friends from enemies, have never known much about Iraq, and don't have enough people who speak the relevant languages? Perhaps they relied too much on the wild predictions of con man Chalabi, who apparently bought HItchens himself so many dinners and drinks?

Hitchens blames: the critics of the war. They're such nay-sayers, they will jump on any bad news, and positively welcome any suggestion that Iraq has become a quagmire. Knowing this tendency, the insurgents have cleverly but evilly decided to target such spots as checkpoints. Knowing the Americans will go to great lengths to avoid casualties among their own forces, the insurgents frighten them all into being a bit trigger-happy, thus widening the gap between Americans in uniform and Iraqi civilians. The war would be a thrilling and successful endeavour if it weren't for those left-wing, er, but non-Trotskyist, intellectuals.

So it's primarily the critics of the war who foster a pathological fear of U.S. casualties? Who regard every American life as something too precious to be shed in hell-hole #48? But isn't there more and more evidence that advocates of the war are neither willing to fight themselves, nor to see their children fight there? (See today's discussion about Pataki's son). Wasn't it a condition of their advocacy of the war, from the beginning, that it would somehow be perfectly safe and cheap? Wolfowitz wasn't just shooting the breeze when he told Congress it would be a cakewalk, over in a short time, and it would pay for itself. It is precisely the advocates of the war who are now forced to wonder if Iraq is worth the loss of significant U.S. casualties--and if it ever was.

If the stakes in Iraq itself--not in some vaguely defined region or religious grouping, much less the entire world--were not sufficiently high in the beginning to demand a big sacrifice, then they are probably not high enough now, either--even if would be embarrassing to bug out. The liberators of Iraq are now making sure as much of the burden of the war as possible falls on Iraqis, including civilians.

I heard Gwen Ifill this evening mention the story of U.S. citizens who have been detained in Iraq. All, she reported, have dual citizenship in an Arab country. I'm pretty sure one is Iranian--and Iran is actually not an Arab country. This is after almost four years of war--if not more, depending on how we are counting.

Vietnam isn't being mentioned only because critics of the war insist on bringing it up. The insurgents are probably thinking about it too.

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