Christopher Hitchens shows a surprising reversion to British mental reflex in his commentaries on the recent events in New York and Washington.
I gather he’s been watching a lot of Fox programming, or perhaps Rupert Murdoch’s British station.
He makes the point that the goals of the bin Laden adherents are simply insupportable. In context, though, he cites no one else’s reporting, and were it not for the valuable contribution of careful journalists such as Robert Fisk, I would find myself unable to believe any fraction of his characterizations of bin Laden and his allies.
The reason for that is because from that start Hitchens leaps to a truly strange conclusion: that the US is somehow newly in a position of moral authority to continue its long policy of selecting winners and losers at the level of nations. Undoubtedly, Hitchens is thinking of a more moderate Western-commanded coalition – featuring, naturally, the smart British boys who’ve done so well at seeing to peaceful solutions in the territories over which they once held sway.
The British reputation as mapmakers and following on that as peacemakers does indeed preceed them, but in a way which Hitchens seems completely to have forgotten.
“Very well then, comrades. Do not pretend that you wish to make up for America’s past crimes in the region. Here is one such crime that can be admitted and undone–the sponsorship of the Taliban could be redeemed by the demolition of its regime and the liberation of its victims,” Hitchens writes.
Hitchens is but a single notch less unhinged than his comely comrade Ann Coulter, who capped a column for the National Review which she began by distinguishing the right sorts of people from others, moved forward to rail about luggage checking by the wrong sorts of people with a spectacularly extreme call to arms:
But now I see that Hitchens, under the banner of opening a new front against fascism, agrees with at least two thirds of the prescription – and quite frankly he may well agree with the last as well, but be working up to coming out in support of it.
The essential problem is that Hitchens is leaving his back covered by the fascists I’d assumed he knew stood in power behind him, from the openly discredited Republican contributors with records as war criminals who were exposed years back and driven off into the World Anti-Communist League, there to plot with terrorist groups admitted to WACL such as Alpha-66, to our modern allies like Silvio Berlusconi, who went on the record last week openly advocating the need for Christendom to “continue to conquer peoples.” For their own good, of course.
In the past fifty years, we – or the United States Government, rather – have proven to a degree of near-mathematical certainty rarely available to students in the social “sciences” our congenital incapacity to be of assistance to other nations in their movements toward self-government. Should any faction with enough social rank to be included in a government threaten to elevate their nation’s interest to equal or worse yet superior rank to that of our businesses’ “interests,” our first reflex is to order them killed. This does a number of things, including priming people in our client states to distrust their own governments, to hate our government, and to correctly identify anyone who accepts its assistance as having blood money in their pockets.
Any honest call for a response to the terrorist actions in New York and Washington simply must keep this in mind. Anyone we choose to assist will be branded for all time as a collaborator with the enemy.
We cannot be in the business of picking leaders, much as Mr. Hitchens and Ms. Coulter might fantasize that we successfully could. Even were one to credit us with a newfound sincerity of purpose in light of our understanding, through these attacks, of the immense harm we’ve waged abroad – and no one in the war camp as yet, including Hitchens, is prepared to argue for us to adopt a tone of understanding – that would not oblige others to believe us; trust must be earned, as parents say to their misbehaving children, over time.
Turning up in Afghanistan waving our dicks, throwing our money and hurt around behind whoever’s conveniently willing to prolong the civil war for us is not a trust-building exercise. Mr. Hitchens need only reflect on England’s current standing in the world for confirmation of this; despite its exile for decades into the lower tier of powers, its fawning eagerness to act as our proxy combine with its own history to leave its government immensely suspect in much of the world.
If US politicians are able to go over and wave the dicks of their constituents’ children at a Foreign Menace, they will certainly not be indulging themselves in my name. Hitchens’ peculiar eagerness to lend his name to this exercise leaves me in agreement with Chomsky, who politely suggests something in Hitchens’ head has broken. One hopes not irretrievably, but his record in continuing to defend our actions in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, lately engaged in carrying their war of aggression into Macedonia, leaves me thinking that Hitchens will always be, first and foremost, sympathetic to the arguments of Britain’s unapologetically interventionist elite. CP
Peter Bell lives in Oakland, California.