Monday, July 11, 2005

Hitchens on Srebrenica and Baghdad

Christopher Hitchen's has an excellent essay on the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where 7,000 Muslims were executed by the depraved forces of Milosevic. Naturally, Hitch must connect the U.S. intervention in the Balkans to our invasion of Iraq, but I like this point of his:
The European Union utterly failed Bosnia, which was in its very own "back yard." So did the United Nations. So did the Clinton-Gore administration, for as long as it regarded Milosevic as "containable" by the use of sanctions. Bosnia did not cease to be a killing field, and Serbia did not cease to be an aggressive dictatorship until the United States armed forces took a hand. The neoconservatives, to their great honor, mostly supported an effort to prevent genocide being inflicted on Muslims: an enterprise in which Israeli interests were not involved. Many liberal and socialist humanitarians took the same view. The argument about intervention and force changed forever as a result, except that many people did not notice. Just go and look up what the leaders of today's "anti-war" movement were saying then … too many civilian casualties (of all things!); the threat of a Vietnam-style "quagmire"; the lasting enmity of the Christian Orthodox world; above all the risk of a "longer war."

Yes, well, we could have guaranteed a nice, short war if we had let the practitioners of genocide have their way. Except that, within a few years, the precedent of unpunished ethnic cleansing would have spread well beyond the borders of Yugoslavia. And we would never have been able to say "never again," because dictators everywhere would have had a free pass. Why did Saddam Hussein, that great lion of the Arab and Muslim world, denounce the American bombing of the Muslim-killing Milosevic? Why did Qaddafi do the same? For the very same reason that Christian fascists in Serbia now denounce the intervention in Iraq: They know that the main foe is the United States and that this fact transcends all the others. There has been a great deal of nonsense published in the last week to the effect that an alliance with the United States can put other countries like Britain in the position of being "targeted." Why deny this? I reflect on what was not done at Srebrenica, and on what ought to have been done in Rwanda, and on what was put off too long with the Taliban and the Baathists, and I think what an honor it is to have such enemies. Co-existence with them is not possible, which is good, because it is not desirable or tolerable, either. The Srebrenica memorial stands as enduring testimony to that inescapable conclusion.
My only problem with Hitchen's logic is that he believes the Bush Administration did Iraq because of the depravity of his regime. Hitchens as well as anyone else who cared to look into U.S. ties to Iraq knows the U.S.'s role in supporting Hussein throughout his worst crimes at a time when he most certainly had WMDs. Better yet, the present-day administration officials such as Donald Rumsfeld had high positions during the Reagan Administration's support of Hussein.(Read about U.S. support of Hussein during the 80's from the National Security Archives here). Hitchens also studiously ignores the deceit of the Bush Administration in taking this country to war (although war is not the right term for the invasion and occupation of Iraq). Nevertheless, Hitchens, always a friend to the Kurds, did actually support the invasion and, in his mind, liberation of Iraq because of its humanitarian aspects. Also, all his writings have total and utter contempt for tyranny, which is hard to find these days.

For that reason I will always respect Hitchens, although I do wish he would admit (he might have, but I haven't read it) that the Bush Administration lied and deceived the American public when arguing about the risk posed by the Hussein.

Hitchens is an impressive writer and expert debater (one of my personal favorites), it would be a tragedy if his talents obscure the facts.