Nowhere else to go

Hitchens, again, aims past the foolish puerile yammering about Iraq and homes in on the reality——we have no option but to win this fight.

I  think that the continuation of the Saddam Hussein regime would have been even more dangerous than the Bush administration has ever claimed. I also think that that regime should have been removed many years before it actually was, which is why the Bush administration is right to remind people of exactly what Democrats used to say when they had the power to do that and did not use it. No, there are two absolutely crucial things that made me a supporter of regime change before Bush, and that will keep me that way whether he fights a competent war or not.
The first of these is the face, and the voice, of Iraqi and Kurdish democrats and secularists. Not only are these people looking at death every day, from the hysterical campaign of murder and sabotage that Baathists and Bin Ladenists mount every day, but they also have to fight a war within the war, against clerical factions and eager foreign—based forces from Turkey or Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia. On this, it is not possible to be morally or politically neutral. And, on this, much of the time at least, American force is exerted on the right side. It is the only force in the region, indeed, that places its bet on the victory and the values of the Iraqis who stand in line to vote. How appalling it would be, at just the moment when "the Arab street" (another dispelled figment that its amen corner should disown) has begun to turn against al—Qaida and Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, if those voters should detect an American impulse to fold or "withdraw." A sense of history is more important than an eye to opinion polls or approval ratings. Consult the bankrupt Syrian Baathists if you doubt me.

But all right, let's stay with withdrawal. Withdraw to where, exactly? When Jeanette Rankin was speaking so powerfully on Capitol Hill against U.S. entry into World War I, or Sen. W.E. Borah and Charles Lindbergh were making the same earnest case about the remoteness from American concern of the tussles in Central and Eastern Europe in 1936 and 1940, it was possible to believe in the difference between "over here" and "over there." There is not now—as we have good reason to know from the London Underground to the Palestinian diaspora murdered in Amman to the no—go suburbs of France—any such distinction. Has the ludicrous and sinister President Jacques Chirac yet designed his "exit strategy" from the outskirts of Paris? Even Rep. Murtha glimpses his own double—standard futility, however dimly, when he calls for U.S. forces to be based just "over the horizon" in case of need. And what horizon, my dear congressman, might that be?

The atom bomb, observed Albert Einstein, "altered everything except the way we think." A globe—spanning war, declared and prosecuted against all Americans, all apostates, all Christians, all secularists, all Jews, all Hindus, and most Shiites, is not to be fought by first ceding Iraq and then seeing what happens "over the horizon." But to name the powerful enemies of jihad I have just mentioned is also to spell out some of the reasons why the barbarians will—and must—be defeated. If you prefer, of course, you can be bound in a nutshell and count yourself a king of infinite space and reduce this to the historic struggle between Lewis Libby and—was it Valerie Plame? The word "isolationist" at least used to describe something real, even "realistic." The current exit babble is illusory and comprehends neither of the above.  

Clarice Feldman   11 22 05

Hitchens, again, aims past the foolish puerile yammering about Iraq and homes in on the reality——we have no option but to win this fight.

I  think that the continuation of the Saddam Hussein regime would have been even more dangerous than the Bush administration has ever claimed. I also think that that regime should have been removed many years before it actually was, which is why the Bush administration is right to remind people of exactly what Democrats used to say when they had the power to do that and did not use it. No, there are two absolutely crucial things that made me a supporter of regime change before Bush, and that will keep me that way whether he fights a competent war or not.
The first of these is the face, and the voice, of Iraqi and Kurdish democrats and secularists. Not only are these people looking at death every day, from the hysterical campaign of murder and sabotage that Baathists and Bin Ladenists mount every day, but they also have to fight a war within the war, against clerical factions and eager foreign—based forces from Turkey or Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia. On this, it is not possible to be morally or politically neutral. And, on this, much of the time at least, American force is exerted on the right side. It is the only force in the region, indeed, that places its bet on the victory and the values of the Iraqis who stand in line to vote. How appalling it would be, at just the moment when "the Arab street" (another dispelled figment that its amen corner should disown) has begun to turn against al—Qaida and Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, if those voters should detect an American impulse to fold or "withdraw." A sense of history is more important than an eye to opinion polls or approval ratings. Consult the bankrupt Syrian Baathists if you doubt me.

But all right, let's stay with withdrawal. Withdraw to where, exactly? When Jeanette Rankin was speaking so powerfully on Capitol Hill against U.S. entry into World War I, or Sen. W.E. Borah and Charles Lindbergh were making the same earnest case about the remoteness from American concern of the tussles in Central and Eastern Europe in 1936 and 1940, it was possible to believe in the difference between "over here" and "over there." There is not now—as we have good reason to know from the London Underground to the Palestinian diaspora murdered in Amman to the no—go suburbs of France—any such distinction. Has the ludicrous and sinister President Jacques Chirac yet designed his "exit strategy" from the outskirts of Paris? Even Rep. Murtha glimpses his own double—standard futility, however dimly, when he calls for U.S. forces to be based just "over the horizon" in case of need. And what horizon, my dear congressman, might that be?

The atom bomb, observed Albert Einstein, "altered everything except the way we think." A globe—spanning war, declared and prosecuted against all Americans, all apostates, all Christians, all secularists, all Jews, all Hindus, and most Shiites, is not to be fought by first ceding Iraq and then seeing what happens "over the horizon." But to name the powerful enemies of jihad I have just mentioned is also to spell out some of the reasons why the barbarians will—and must—be defeated. If you prefer, of course, you can be bound in a nutshell and count yourself a king of infinite space and reduce this to the historic struggle between Lewis Libby and—was it Valerie Plame? The word "isolationist" at least used to describe something real, even "realistic." The current exit babble is illusory and comprehends neither of the above.  

Clarice Feldman   11 22 05