Ian Parker�s recent
New Yorker Profile of Christopher
Hitchens, �He Knew He Was Right,� aptly subtitled �How a former socialist
became the Iraq war�s fiercest defender� is the fastidiously told tale of
Christopher Hitchens hitching himself to the Death Star of the administration
and its preemptive, unilateral, war on Iraq. May the force wake him up!
seems to linger in the darkest recesses of neocon thinking, a far out inner
space. I see the maps to World Hegemony hanging on the Death Star�s war room
walls, as in the Pentagon. Though I see Hitchens as na�f in residence, blind to
his commanders headed for destruction. Their malevolent destruction of Iraq
alone -- infrastructure, cities, arable land -- has delivered a death toll of
650,000 Iraqis, nearly 3,000 US soldiers, and a $378 billion tab to US
This includes the privatization of the war,
yielding untold billions to civilian contractors, Vice President Cheney�s
former company, Halliburton, its subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root, as well as
CACI. In fact, the profit is pouring into their coffers like vast amounts of
blood. They are wallowing in the blood money. Hussein�s decades-long rein pales
by comparison, even with its ugly toll of an alleged 300,000 dead.
Then of course
there is the oil, the second largest Gulf supply behind the Saudi�s, all
conveniently under the thumb of the Texas Oilopoly, controlling supplies and
prices, raking in profits; Exxon Mobile sailing to the largest corporate take
in US history.
The question is,
when Hitchens hitched himself to the Death Star, was he bored with his
hard-earned left-wing success, drunk at the wheel, or seduced by the infamous
Paul Wolfowitz to America�s leading den of iniquity, the Pentagon (and other
dark corners). I believe it was mostly the third, perhaps a splash of the first
two as well that led him to it.
Ian Parker quotes
Salman Rushdie, a member of Hitchens� salon, who said laughingly, �I met Paul Wolfowitz.
And I discovered to my immense surprise, that he�s a very nice man.
reminds us is the �neoconservative who served as the Deputy Secretary of
Defense between 2001 and 2005, and who now runs the World Bank, and was a
primary architect of the invasion of Iraq; he has become the emblem of
Hitchens�s new political alignment. Wolfowitz respected Hitchens�s record as a
writer on human rights. He called Hitchens in the fall of 2002, at the
prompting of Kevin Kellems, then his special adviser, and now an adviser at the
Parker tells us that Kellems said after the call
to Hitchens, �It felt like Cold War espionage. Contacting someone on the other
side you think might want to defect.� More importantly, Hitchens accepted an �invitation
to lunch at the Pentagon,� one might say to make a pact with the devil. Kellems
reminds us, �We didn�t put his name on the schedule.� Well, of course, here was
a real human being with a notable record of fighting, writing for human rights.
Why would you want a name like that, unless to legitimatize the cabal.
In fact, if Hitchens had written nothing but The
Trial of Henry Kissinger, definitively documenting Henry Kissinger as a
war criminal, responsible for (among
other atrocities) the organizing and order to assassinate Salvador Allende,
the freely elected president of the democratic state of Chile, Hitchens would
remain one of our major left heroes, fast-balling 90 mph sentences into
eloquent strikeouts of the bad, the evil, and even worse. What�s more, Hitchens
body of work is impressive. His second love is
literature, and he can quote poetry like an Oxford don. Hitchens' degree is from Balliol College,
part of the University of Oxford. Lovely learning
lending a grace and depth to his writing and speaking.
Back Story to Nowhere
I remember first
seeing Hitchens after 9/11 on various talk shows, including the Fox Five Terror Scare-athons. Hitchens
was one of the more interesting talking heads, a bit surly, shirt open, hair
long, twitching like the three-pack-a-day smoker he is, answering questions
with the speed, depth and intensity of a man who perhaps felt they were too
easy, insults to his formidable intelligence. You see I admire all that
Hitchens can be. All the more reason to lament his loss to the Death Star.
Yet a wise
Wolfowitz knew, as Parker points out, Hitchens was �a longtime observer of the
cruelty of Saddam Hussein, and had spoken publicly for his removal since 1998.
He supported the cause of Kurdish Independence and had been to Halabja and seen
the injuries caused there by Iraqi chemical weapons.� I might add those weapons
were supplied by the CIA.
Parker notes that
�he [Hitchens] was friendly with dissident Iraqis in exile, including Ahmed
Chalabi.� Chalabi was convicted and sentenced in absentia for bank fraud by a
Jordanian military tribunal. He faces 17 years in prison, should he again enter
Jordan. Parker�s adds to Chalabi�s resume, �now a member of the Iraqi National Congress, which
aggressively promoted the notion, now
widely discounted, that Saddam was poised to become a nuclear power.�
� . . . Widely discounted, that Saddam was
poised to become a nuclear power� is New Yorker politesse for
absolutely untrue and unfounded. Bogus. Lies.
after 9/11 and the defeat of the Taliban, Parker notes that �he [Hitchens] had
thrown himself into the debate over Iraq, making speeches and writing for Slate. Brandishing the nineteen-thirties
slogan �Fascism Means War,� he argued that Saddam was something more than a
tyrant.� Yes, he was. He was a vicious dictator that George Herbert Walker had
installed and then helped to attack Iran, giving him the necessary arms and
money, while feeding same to Iran. Leaving a million casualties and another
to Parker, �Though he [Hussein] did not have nuclear weapons, he aspired to
have them . . ." Would that be like Israel who has had two to three
hundred bombs since the �60s? Or like Pakistan, Libya or India, who have
managed to get the plans or the real thing since? �His [Hussein�s] regime was
on the verge of implosion . . ." Well, yes, they were broke after an
eight-year war with Iran. Yet Hitchens claims �And better that it should
implode under supervision, with the West providing armed resistance to the
imminent Iraqi and Kurdish revolutions.� The West had just finished sponsoring
both sides in the war. Their true ends were achieved. Revolutions, my Socialist
friend, were not in their best interest. Control was.
�Hitchens told me, �The number of us who would have criticized Bush if he hadn�t removed Saddam -- that�s the
smallest minority I�ve ever been a member of.'� Well, time has certainly proved
him abysmally wrong. Hitchens not only reveals a total forgetfulness of US
involvement in all that had transpired. He also seems ready to join the
Coalition of the Very Willing and forget that the CIA previously sponsored
Osama and his Mujahideen in 1979 to �89 to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.
And from this group al Qaeda was born, a CIA armed and trained black ops
�terror� entity. Is that what happens when you hang around Fox Five studios too long? Is it amnesia, arrogance, alcohol, too
The balance of
Parker�s sad tale on the mating of Hitchens and Wolfowitz is that the latter
felt those of a like mind should be on �closer terms.� Hitchens responds that
he had been trying to signal Wolfowitz in his writing and Wolfowitz said, �I
wondered.� Egads, all we need now is a score by Alfred E. Newman with syrupy
violins and a romantic theme lifted from somewhere. They talked about this and
talked about that, �Rwanda, Bosnia, the history of genocide, the cost of
inaction.� And what about the genocide Iraq was to become? Also, had Hitchens
ever considered why Bush Sr. did not eliminate Saddam when he had the
opportunity at the end of Gulf War One? Could it have been that destabilization
of the region which would affect the flow of oil? Oil, I repeat, oil, the bread
and butter of Texas/America�s industry.
�Finishing Each Other�s Sentences�
the duo of Hitchens and Wolfowitz as �two giant minds unleashed in the room.
They were finishing each other�s sentences.� According to Hitchens, �Wolfowitz
is a bleeding heart. There are not many Republicans, or Democrats, who lie
awake at night worrying about what�s happening to the Palestinians, but he
does.� Oh Jesus. And did he worry about what the Likud government was doing to
the Palestinians: a little more genocide, finally burying them under a Warsaw
Hitchens we are
told had been �a decades-long agitator for the Palestinian cause; he co-edited
a book on the subject with Edward, Said, the late Palestinian-American
scholar,� with whom he parted company abruptly before Said�s death. What�s
more, Hitchens says, �Wolfowitz wants America�s human-rights ethic to be
straight and consistent as far as possible and if there�s an anomaly he�s aware
of it.� Was the anomaly that Palestine had been partitioned in 1948 to create
Israel, a Zionist militarist state? If so, how do we account for the fact that
Hitchens rails against religion co-opting political agendas? Or had lunch and
too much wine at the Pentagon and holding political hands with Wolfowitz
entirely blurred his sense of history?
On April 9, 2003,
after the initial �shock and awe� days, when the destruction of Iraq began with
a boom, Hitchens wrote, �So it runs out that all the slogans of the anti-war
movement were right after all. And their demands were just. �No War on Iraq,�
they said -- and there wasn�t a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a �war�
at all. �No Blood for Oil,� they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been
duly rescued [?] from the attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled.� And
why did Mr. Hitchens think that had happened, by accident or with the skilled
assistance of James Baker and a cadre of Texas oilmen behind him? Rescued?
Kidnapped might be a better word.
Parker reports, �In
July 2003,� he [Hitchens] and a few other reporters flew to Baghdad with
Wolfowitz.� Ah, Kissinger was right about one thing: Power is the most potent
aphrodisiac. Now Hitchens is in love. He says to Fox News, �It�s quite extraordinary to see the way that American
soldiers are welcomed.� Welcomed, eh? Is that what the �insurgency� was? A
Coming back home
Hitchens says, �To see the work that they�re doing and not just rolling up
these filthy networks of Baathists and jihadists, but building schools, opening
soccer stadiums, helping people connect to the Internet, there is a really
intelligent political program as well as a very tough military one.� He�d
bought the bullshit hook, line and sinker. The seduction, the reduction of a
brilliant journalist�s critical intelligence to ashes, was complete. His
�filthy jihadists� were the original creation of the CIA and Jimmy Carter�s
former NSC chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski. ZB invoked for the first time the term
�jihad,� a religious war against what he cited as the �atheistic Russians� to
stoke the Muslim fighters.
�And three years
later,� Parker reports, �Hitchens is still on Fox News talking about the Iraq war. He has not flinched from his
position that the [illegal] invasion was necessary, nor declined any serious
invitation to defend that position publicly, even as the violence in Iraq has
increased, and American opinion has turned against the intervention and the
President who launched [it].� I assume these are free appearances, made as a
journalist, with no conflict of interest.
And of course,
Hitchens still brings �his rhetorical mettle� with him. Great.
having hitched himself to the Death Star, now the Starship Galactica, coming
from another channel, with critics at the cannons, is firing back non-stop.
Though ironically, my mission is not to blow the man apart but, like Humpty
Dumpty, to put him back together again, if possible. Something happened. He
sounds like an MKULTRA victim, brainwashed, on autopilot, slurring, mouthing
the script. Could it be the booze and the cigarettes?
In a recent interview
on NPR�s All Things Considered, Gay Raz, the interviewer, noted
Hitchens was already drinking scotch when he arrived. In the four-hour
interview, he went through four double scotches, three merlots and 16
cigarettes. Hitchens claims it helps him think. I believe his dependencies
totally interfere with a clear thought process. In fact, somebody should get
this guy into a 12-Step program quick. I saw him in two short scenes from an Applause Channel documentary on F. Scott
Fitzgerald. He looked like he�d put on 50 pounds (around his waist). The long
hair was now a botched short haircut. It was strange. As the ad campaign for
the �Negro� College Fund used to say, �A mind is a terrible thing to waste.�
What Went Wrong With Christopher Hitchens?
Does the fascination
with booze and tobacco come from boredom with the quotidian as he perceives it?
Or, having reached a level of great success as a human rights fighter, did he
need a new mountain to climb? Or was it the simple allure of all that power and
money, being the ultimate insider, perhaps bumping into Bob Woodward in some
Pentagon hallway, in the gray marble maze, in the throbbing intestine and belly
of the beast? Or is he a Faust for our time, a new play for Broadway? Or does
he want to cross the line from his middle class beginnings, his father a
British Navy commander, and his mother from a poor Jewish family? Does he
want to cross over to the elite corners of the world he skirted at Oxford? Or
to the world he was invited into for a private meeting with Tony Blair? In
short, what went wrong with Christopher Hitchens?
He hasn�t touched
9/11 with a stick, especially given the enormous body of evidence that would
indicate a conspiracy. He hasn�t bothered to say he doesn�t agree. Instead we
get this White House press release from him, �We know we�re at war today and so
do they and they will pay and pay and for it (their nihilistic Islamism) [his
phrase]. They will rue the day when they decided to challenge civilization and
democracy and attempt to replace it with theocracy and barbarism.� Barbarism?
Has he heard of depleted uranium, its effect on our troops as well as millions
Has he taken a look
at Afghanistan lately and the surge in opium production, yielding a bonanza to
the CIA and every junkie on earth? Does he know about the Evangelical
Christians, that Jesus-loving fundamentalist plurality that helped put Bush in
the White House and how they would dominate our political agenda? Has he heard
about the rape of Habeas Corpus? Does he lament the lost of constitutional
rights to the USAPATRIOT Act? Does he have any knowledge of how the West
exploited the Middle East, particularly from WW II on, to gain total control
over its oil? This man has come to speak from a dark hole in space, from the
heart of the Death Star itself.
For in the News
Room of the Death Star sailing in the outer, outer space of its rhetoric, he
sits, no Howard Beale, but a silver-throated, English-accented pitchman for
perdition, drowned in substance, kidnapped by the right. Somebody bring him
home. Put a cap on the sauce. Get him clear. Get him a hobby. Gardening, for
instance, a British gift. Put his hands in the soil to feel its richness, life
growing in spite of all odds. Even a Death Star excreting its uranium-enriched
poison into the earth, water and atmosphere. Wake up, Chris,, before it�s too
late. Or is it already?
Jerry Mazza is a
freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.