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Christopher Hitchens: No “Arab Spring” If Saddam Still Ruled Iraq

The Arab Revolutions are a unique moment in the history of the world for a number of reasons. Chief amongst these important reasons is the shattering of age old Orientalist myths that Arabs and Muslims are impervious to Democracy, the language of rights, etc. These talking points are usually further essentialized by the view that what is holding Arabs and Muslims back is the retrograde force of Islam.

Yet, there are attempts to steal these revolutions. Attempts to deny the indigenous, organic nature of the transformation happening before our eyes. “How could the natives rise against their dictatorships without our help,” the thinking goes.

Christopher Hitchens comes to mind. The militant atheist, morose humorist, man of letters, convert from the ranks of International Socialism to neo-Conservatism, who, terming the revolutions “Arab uprisings” believes they would never have happened if it weren’t for the Iraq War.

Hitchens was an early skeptic of the revolutions, he wrote that he “won’t be surprised” if the “exemplary courage and initiative of the citizens of Tahrir Square slowly ebb away.” The revolutions put him and others like him in a tough spot, he supported the Iraq War, claiming that Iraqis could only be freed from Saddam through Western intervention. He denied that the war was ever only about the threat of WMD’s, but rather about overthrowing a ruthless dictator.

He didn’t believe in the ability of Iraqi people, which is surprising considering the frequency with which Hitchens extols the founding fathers who wrote a document based on natural law that made the bold claim that liberty was an unalienable right for all mankind,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Either we believe that all mankind is equal and thirsts to realize its unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or we don’t. Either we believe that all mankind has the ability to throw off the shackles of oppression without dubious intervention, unending occupation or we don’t.

Hitchens writes,

Can anyone imagine how the Arab spring would have played out if a keystone Arab state, oil-rich and heavily armed with a track record of intervention in its neighbors’ affairs and a history of all-out mass repression against its own civilians, were still the private property of a sadistic crime family? As it is, to have had Iraq on the other scale from the outset has been an unnoticed and unacknowledged benefit whose extent is impossible to compute.

It is pitiful to see Hitchens try to cover his ass now. Such a great man of letters, reduced to writing like some glorified assistant to Donald Rumsfeld, justifying the unjustifiable.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died due to the conflict in Iraq. Many more lives have been upended, destroyed and ravaged, including the lives of many American soldiers.

Now, beaming onto our television and computer screens are the inspirational, brave, victorious people of Tunisia and Egypt, who proudly let it be known that they toppled their despots.

Instead of worrying about his legacy or what the obituary in the New York Times will read, can Hitchens overcome his hubris and polemical nature, and give credit where credit is due?

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  • Hanking

    Christopher Hitchens is a racist and everybody knows it. He’s been proved wrong and rather than evolve his beliefs and acknowledge his mistakes, he’s continuing to take the moral high ground and he still doesn’t really have a clue about the Middle East.

    The Neo-Cons and racists and Chistopher Hitchens of this world have had their time. So in a way we should thank him for his uneducated and racist opinions.

    He’s taught us exactly how not to think.

  • Old Slaughter

    “Either we believe that all mankind is equal and thirsts to realize its unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or we don’t. Either we believe that all mankind has the ability to throw off the shackles of oppression without dubious intervention, unending occupation or we don’t.”

    That is the most ridiculous logic I have heard in some time. Being born equal does not mean you are equally able to topple a regime. Incoherent toss at best.

  • DrM

    @nutbar,

    Facts? More like fairy tales and lies from the diseased mind of a low class white supremacist euro-twit. The peoples of the Middle East and beyond are perfectly capable of taking care of business, and don’t need or want any more of your puppets ruling them. Laughable that you pretend to have concern for them given your hatred of Muslims. You completely ignored western colonialism and terrorism in the region as I knew you would. You don’t oppose dictatorship as long it serves your interests. Typical.
    “This will be no war — there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention…. The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling…. It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on.”
    (Christopher Hitchens, in a 1/28/03 debate– cited in the Observer, 3/30/03)
    In a fair and civil debate on the topic of politics, religion and theology, Hitchens wouldn’t last five minutes against a qualified opponent even if his friends Dawkins and Dennett were propping up his drunken carcass from either side.
    Churchill is only a “great man” to far right historical revisionists today. It’s only WW2 these clowns remember him for, ignoring the fact that he was a war criminal white supremacist with great admiration for Hitler’s race theories. It’s all in his memoirs. His “opinion” of Islam is more credible then his views on Gandhi whom he wanted “bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” There’s also the Bengal famine, the use poison gas on Iraqis, and testing chemical weapons on Indians in Rawalpindi. No wonder you look up to such a beast.
    Don’t brake your hand punching out your own strawman, adolf. Get back to me when you pull your head out of your rear end.

  • hellosnackbar

    @Dr M,
    I loathe dictatorships be they secular or theocratic.
    The problem in the ME is that there’s a distinct possibility that the dictatorship these brave souls are fighting might leave a power vacuum
    that could be filled by Muslim theocrats who would institute their own
    dictatorship with some mutts using the Koran as its authoritative base.
    (Allah forbid!)
    Your ludicrous condemnation of Hitchens only serves to identify you as
    a feeble minded halfwit.
    Yes Hitchens stirs up opposition(usually lame)with his polemics;but few
    (except you)have the temerity to label him as a self serving charlatan.
    And what relevance has your comment about Salah in the streets have?
    As for Winston Churchill he’s been identified on a world wide basis as a great man.(it seems that in your mind anybody who has a poor view of
    Islam is ergo worthless?)
    You then mention colonialism as though it were entirely restricted to
    Western powers;conveniently forgetting that the spread of Islam was effected by COLONIALISM.
    Maybe you should chew a little on these facts? when you next talk to the top of your carpet?

  • DrM

    @hello nutbar,

    Dream on. You do have quite the imagination. Hitchens only makes an “impression” on semi-educated prepubescent gullible mind. If you haven’t figured yet, that your beloved Contrarian is nothing but a charlatan, there is nothing that can be done for you. Your emperor is butt naked, and that’s not a pretty sight, but Hail to the One blessed with the melodious voice, and lovely accent. That’s all one needs to look smart and consistent.
    Islam isn’t going anywhere but up(guess you missed the part where the protestors were making salah in the streets by the millions), and western colonialism and its puppets are headed straight for the dust bin of history. Try as you might to hide it, you do support secular dictators who do your bidding. Who cares about Winston Churchill? Churchill was nothing but dog face racist and war criminal who was the first person to use poison gas against a Middle Eastern population. His opinion of Islam was no different then any other filthy colonialist trying to control the region, and totally irrelevant.

  • Sam Seed

    “lol@Galloway

    This is the same moron that supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, supported Saddam Hussein, and supported the murderous dictator Slobodan Milosevic”

    I think you’re telling porkies, where is the proof?

    Dan, you simply hate the fact that George Galloway speaks the truth and stands up for justice and tolerance. You are the moron, George Galloway is a true humanist.

    Galloway vs Hitchens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZnUIeKOIgc

  • Thank you Ian for the ’07 quote. Gives us more perspective on the vapidness of Christopher Hitchens thought.

  • Michael Akkawi

    Hitchens is a scar on the face of atheism! Like bigoted Muslims or bigoted Christians, you also have bigoted atheists whose task is to detect and warn against all kinds of bigotry except their own!

    What will he write to cover his ass now that people of Syria (a replica of Iraq in terms of ideology and brutality) are revolting agaist the ruthless Saddamite dictator Bashar al-Asad!

  • iangould

    Anyone tempted to take Hitchens analysis of middle eastern affairs at all serious needs to read the article he wrote a couple of years back praising the Tunisian dictatorship.

    “Why pick on mild Tunisia, where the coup in 1987 had been bloodless, where religious parties are forbidden, where the population grows evenly because of the availability of contraception, where you can see male and female students holding hands and wearing blue jeans, and where thousands of Americans and more than four million Europeans take their vacations every year?

    When it’s put like that, who wouldn’t want the alternative of an African Titoism, or perhaps an African Gaullism, where presidential rule keeps a guiding but not tyrannical hand? ”

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/07/hitchens200707?currentPage=2

  • iangould

    “Can anyone imagine how the Arab spring would have played out if a keystone Arab state, oil-rich and heavily armed with a track record of intervention in its neighbors’ affairs and a history of all-out mass repression against its own civilians, were still the private property of a sadistic crime family?”

    So, basically, Hitchens’ argument is that Iraq – presumably still under sanctions – would have invaded Egypt and Libya to supress the revolutions or exploited them to conquer those countries.

    Buy a fucking map, Chris, you egomaniacal alkie.

  • Garo

    Certainly,there should be no sacred cow. Could not agree more with such a commitment expressed publiclly by the editor of loonwatch.com.

    Thanks,Garibaldi,for making your intent so clear. Will be watching.

  • Ali

    O and to those who think the overthrow of Saddam had some sort of demonstration effect on these protesters, realize that the Arab world almost unanimously hated the invasion of Iraq. So I don’t think protesters in Egypt 7 years after the fact said to themselves, “dude Saddam is gone, we should revolt.”

  • Ali

    So Hitchens is telling me that Saddam Hussein would have sent his ground troops through Saudi Arabia, wave hello to the Americans and kick ass in Yemen. Or maybe he would do the same as he went past Israel on his way to Libya and Egypt. Maybe Iraqi soldiers would take pictures of American bases as they intervened in Bahrain.

    I think Hitchens is forgetting that Iraq was facing the most comprehensive sanctions the modern world has ever seen including the existence of a no fly zone and sorties that were flown daily over Iraq. Even if Saddam tried to move an inch towards Syria, the US and Britain would bomb him so much he wouldn’t know what to think, you know considering his air force and navy didn’t exist and all. Hell, Saddam barely had an army after that sanctions regime. His people suffered too but the Hitchens forgets easy…http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/183499.stm

  • Dan

    lol@Galloway

    This is the same moron that supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, supported Saddam Hussein, and supported the murderous dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

  • Garo

    Four or five years ago,(I cannot remember exactly),I watched,on C-SPAN TV cable channel,a debate between Christopher Hitchens and George Colloway,the outspoken,activist and former member of the House of Common. I was not impressed,at all,by Hitchens’sophomoric debating mediocre talent. I was extremely impressed by Colloway’s straightforwardness and his debating ability through which he completely exposed and neutralized Hitchens’obvious prejudices,especially about Israel.

    Yes,Hitchens can shine as a “good and even sharp” debater when his opponents are sophomoric debaters like him,but a very poor one when he faces talented debaters like George Colloway or the late Edward Said.

  • Mosizzle

    Link 182, this is the article from David Liepert that Anj was talking about.

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