I won’t format this well, but I’ve finally came around to the idea that Hitchens was right about Iraq. A little background first…
Years ago I thought that since Saddam was a dangerous dictator it was a good idea to depose Saddam, but then I thought it was a mistake because the war didn’t seem to go well and we didn’t seem to have an exit strategy or a way of making the place democratic and stable. When we found out there weren’t WMDs, the liberals became pretty powerful, George Bush made the case worse by speaking like an idiot, and it was the popular thing to dislike the war and the Republican led government. (I don’t think I ever totally stopped supporting the initial intervention, but for me I questioned why we stayed there if it weren’t to gather oil, and I thought it was a grey conflict I didn’t need t care that much about.)
Anyway, I read when Richard Dawkins condemned the war like a typical European back in 2003, and he didn’t seem to have the insights of Christopher Hitchens. I think he was wrong about Iraq and that Christopher Hitchens is right. I was cautious of accepting Hitchens’ arguments since Iraq did seem to get worse after he died, but his moral convictions were right, and I think history will show his view was better than that of his opponents. (Incidentally, I tried to be charitable and understand his contrarian position by watching a few of his interviews and he gave them right up until his day where he spoke about it, and the debate he had on Iraq.)
Hitchen’s earlier views might have been wrong and blinded by Anti-Americanism of the Marxists he hung out with, but ever since 9/11 he seems to have had an epiphany and realized that America could be a force for good. Like he did, I do feel that kind of clarity again.
When you look at the counter-factuals, sooner or later we would have had to confront Iraq. The Europeans would always have opposed us because they were frankly morons and have a European guilt complex (and look at what is happening with Muslim violence in their countries now.)
Yeah it’s convenient to be right, but I did fight it for a long time and to be skeptical of it. I considered some of the conspiracy theories like it was about oil or some vendetta left over from his father. Ultimately though, we couldn’t let such dangerous people control such a vital part of the world. It might take decades, but if we can make Iraq democratic, that would be a huge improvement and might lead the Middle East upward. (I’m not so sure about Afghanistan.)
Of course, it does limit our military options when we are bogged down in the Middle East, but since the Europeans won’t help and much of NATO is useless, we have to do it, and American exceptionalism has a lot to say for it. I guess I’m onboard with the neocons as fellow travelers; the American revolution really is the only one that hasn’t been put out yet.
I can take some pride in that aspect of my American identity, because we do have a better foreign track record abroad than most countries. (Certainly better than the peaceniks in Europe.) Sure we’ve supported lots of dictatorships in fighting the Communists, but it’s pretty obvious that a lot of those decisions were forced when we were in ethically gray areas. Moreover, in cases like Iraq, we had to go in because France and Russia kept vetoing our sanctions.
(I’m not sure that I can agree with torture, but the Americans are basically the good guys compared to everyone else on the stage right now.) You see the other side beheading people in Iraq, you see the Russians poisoning spies, you have seen the ungrateful Europeans contributing nothing for decades while relentlessly criticizing the American policy in the Middle-East from under the umbrella of protection America gives them. It’s sad that they get to enjoy their socialism and get fat dumb and happy, while Americans actually sacrifice our freedoms and our lives to keep them free. China is a dictatorship; the Middle-East and Africa are a mess, and the Australians are probably just as Anti-American as the Europeans (although they send troops.)
I’m starting to think actually that although most people don’t like the neo-cons and foreigners understandably resent being forced to follow someone else, the critics don’t actually really understand how much thought the neo-cons have given to trying to make the world freer. It’s so much easier to be a bien-pensant liberal. If you don’t defend democracy abroad, you will lose it at home; just look at how the Russians tried to subvert our election.
You know, one of these days I should go to Taiwan for myself as a private citizen and talk to some of those people and make friends there, in the name of defending democracy. I know they don’t want to be part of China. I need to start thinking about how people who want freedom everywhere regardless of the language they speak or the country they live in are my fellow travelers. There’s something in all of us that wants freedom, and doesn’t want to be oppressed, and that’s why you had all the revolutions against the USSR in Eastern Europe, and the slave riots, and so forth. There are some universal rights, and contrary to what those liberals and isolationist conservatives say, they do exist.
Europe (especially Germany, France and Spain), Russia and China are off-limits! No more supporting the peaceniks or autocrats with my tourist dollars!