In a panel discussion on the Iraq War, Christopher Hitchens tells the tale of his journey away from the modern International Left, which has become more a party than an ideology, to his chagrin.
Andrew Marr – You, I suppose fell out with quite a lot of people on the left over your support for Iraq and that’s the thing that probably dominates this collection more than anything else …
Christopher Hitchens – … I made a lot of friends on the Iraqi and Kurdish left on the other hand which more than made up for it.
Andrew Marr – But did all of this start with 9/11? Is that the moment of, sort of …
Christopher Hitchens – … Oh, by no means, no. It starts for me at the end of the first Gulf War, the one in 1991, which I was very critical of until the closing stages, when I was in Northern Iraq bouncing around in a jeep with some Kurdish guerrillas. They taped a picture of George Bush senior to their windshield, on my side, so that I couldn’t see out. And after a bit I complained. I said “look do we have to have this, I can’t see” (and also it would be awfully embarrassing if I ran into anyone I knew). I remember that the Iran-Contra business was very vivid in my mind. They said “the fact of the matter is we can move it to a side window if you like, but we think that without his intervention, without the umbrella in Northern Iraq, that we, and all our families, would be dead”. And I realised that I didn’t have a clever answer to that. And I began to re-work back to the origins of the war and realised that co-existence with the Saddam Hussein regime was no longer possible. And that was in 1991. Anyway, if you hadn’t concluded it by then you were obviously not going to be persuaded – as since we have found out.
Hitch has always been an outspoken critic of human rights abuses, and the United States hasn’t escaped his criticism. However, unlike some on the International Left, such as Amnesty International’s Irene Khan, Hitch gets it right when it comes to apportioning blame. He has traveled extensively in some of the hotspots of the world, and as a consequence, he gets an opportunity to see things as they really are. No panty-waisted CNN journo hiding in a safe hotel in Baghdad, he actually spent time traveling far and wide. I’ll take his word over that of the Khans or Galloways of this world any day.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]