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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 20, 2003

The unkindest cut of all

When one of your own does it to you.

Christopher Hitchens challenges his former fellow travellers on the Left to Chew On This My Leftist Comrades
The government and people of these United States are now at war with the forces of reaction.

This outcome was clearly not willed, at least on the American side. And everybody with half an education seems to know how to glibly dilute the statement. Isn't Saudi Arabia reactionary? What about Pakistani nukes? Do we bomb Sharon for his negation of Palestinian rights? Weren't we on Saddam's side when he was at his worst? (I am exempting the frantic and discredited few who think or suggest that George W. Bush fixed up the attacks to inflate the military budget and abolish the Constitution.) But however compromised and shameful the American starting point was--and I believe I could make this point stick with greater venom and better evidence than most people can muster--the above point remains untouched. The United States finds itself at war with the forces of reaction.
To understand the significance of this charge, you must understand the meaning and significance of the word "reaction". The dictionary defines it as "a movement back to a former or less advanced contition or state". The Left has been against America for being reactionary while believing themselves to be to be progressive.

If the counsel of the peaceniks had been followed, Kuwait would today be the 19th province of Iraq (and based on his own recently produced evidence, Saddam Hussein would have acquired nuclear weapons). Moreover, Bosnia would be a trampled and cleansed province of Greater Serbia, Kosovo would have been emptied of most of its inhabitants, and the Taliban would still be in power in Afghan-istan. Yet nothing seems to disturb the contented air of moral superiority that surrounds those who intone the "peace movement."

There are at least three well-established reasons to favor what is euphemistically termed "regime change" in Iraq. The first is the flouting by Saddam Hussein of every known law on genocide and human rights, which is why the Senate--at the urging of Bill Clinton--passed the Iraq Liberation Act unanimously before George W. Bush had even been nominated. The second is the persistent effort by Saddam's dictatorship to acquire the weapons of genocide: an effort which can and should be thwarted and which was condemned by the United Nations before George W. Bush was even governor of Texas. The third is the continuous involvement by the Iraqi secret police in the international underworld of terror and destabilization. I could write a separate essay on the evidence for this; at the moment I'll just say that it's extremely rash for anybody to discount the evidence that we already possess. (And I shall add that any "peace movement" that even pretends to care for human rights will be very shaken by what will be uncovered when the Saddam Hussein regime falls. Prisons, mass graves, weapon sites... just you wait.)

None of these things on their own need necessarily make a case for an intervention, but taken together--and taken with the permanent threat posed by Saddam Hussein to the oilfields of the region--they add up fairly convincingly.

Have you, or your friends, recently employed the slogan "No War for Oil"?
If so, did you listen to what you were saying? Do you mean that oil isn't worth fighting for, or that oil resources aren't worth protecting? Do you recall that Saddam Hussein ignited the oilfields of Kuwait when he was in retreat, and flooded the local waterways with fire and pollution? (Should I patronize the potluckistas, and ask them to look up the pictures of poisoned birds and marine animals from that year?) Are you indifferent to the possibility that such a man might be able to irradiate the oilfields next time? OF COURSE it's about oil, stupid.

The sanctions policy, which was probably always hopeless, is now quite indefensible. If lifted, it would only have allowed Saddam's oligarchy to re-equip. But once imposed, it was immoral and punitive without the objective of regime change. Choose.

In his [Dr. Barham Salih, who is the elected prime minister of one sector of Iraqi Kurdistan] area of Iraq, "regime change" has already occurred. There are dozens of newspapers, numerous radio and TV channels, satellite dishes, Internet cafes. Four female judges have been appointed. Almost half the students at the University of Sulaimaniya are women. And a pro al Qaeda group, recently transferred from Afghanistan, is trying to assassinate the Kurdish leadership and nearly killed my dear friend Barham just the other day.... Now, why would this gang want to make that particular murder its first priority?

Most of the massacres and betrayals of the Kurdish people of Iraq took place with American support or connivance. But the Kurds have pressed ahead with regime change in any case. Surely a "peace movement" with any principles should be demanding that the United States not abandon them again.

Instead, there is a self-satisfied isolationism to be found, which seems to desire mainly a quiet life for Americans. The option of that quiet life disappeared a while back, and it's only coincidence that for me it vanished in Seattle. The United States is now at war with the forces of reaction, and nobody is entitled to view this battle as a spectator.
Welcome aboard Christopher. Your arguments carry more weight than a thousand voices on the right saying the same thing.

Ted Belman tedbel@rogers.com