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Christopher Hitchens: Bush Crippled by Agency Fratricide

Sunday, 18 December 2005 12:00 AM

Commentator Christopher Hitchens tells NewsMax that the Bush administration has been crippled in its war on terror by "debilitating inter-agency fratricide" as agencies like the CIA, NSA, Defense and State departments war over the president's policies.

The controversial writer shared some of his insights this past week as he prepared for another great debate over the Iraq war on Dec. 20 in Tarrytown, N.Y.

A Vanity Fair contributing editor and vociferous advocate for the liberation of Iraq, Christopher Hitchens will square off against former U.N. inspector Scott Ritter, a vocal opponent of U.S. foreign policy regarding the Middle East.

Slated for the Tarrytown Music Hall, the battle promises to be at least as tumultuous as the show a few months ago when Hitchens went toe-to-toe in a debate with British MP George Galloway, one of the war's harshest critics, at Manhattan's Baruch College near Gramercy Park.

Born in the U.K. and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, Hitchens is an unabashed liberal who has contributed to The Nation and Slate, in addition to his Vanity Fair perch.

He has famously split from the Anglo-American political left on the issue of Iraq, becoming one of the strongest supporters of George Bush's vision of a democratic state.

For sure, Hitchens likes a political brawl.

He took some heavy hits from the acid-tongued Galloway at the Baruch College venue:

Hardly the perennial hawk, Hitchens criticized the first Gulf War, claiming – in an essay reprinted in his 1993 book, "For the Sake of Argument: Essays & Minority Reports" – that the Bush administration lured Saddam Hussein into the war.

Hitchens explains that his new status as an articulate advocate of the second Gulf War is essentially the product of personal evolution – beginning with the deep shock he felt over the 1989 "fatwa" issued against his longtime friend Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses."

Hitchens saw the fatwa, or marked-for-death, on the head of Rushdie as a dangerous example of "theocratic fascism" or "fascism with an Islamic face."

Following Desert Storm in 1991, Hitchens linked up with Kurdish freedom fighters and saw first hand the towns where the chemical weapons had been used and the uncovering of mass graves.

With the Kurds, he noticed a photo of former President George H.W. Bush taped onto the windshields of their vehicles. He was told by the Kurds with him that but for George H.W. Bush and Operation Desert Storm, they and their families would have been dead.

Hitchens came to see the U.S. intervention in Iraq as inevitable – and a good thing.

"It never seemed to me that there was any alternative to confronting the reality of Iraq, which was already on the verge of implosion and might, if left to rot and crash, have become to the region what the Congo is to Central Africa: a vortex of chaos and misery that would draw in opportunistic interventions from Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia."

Hitchens recently told an audience that he somewhat unwittingly worked his way into a full-time job writing about the political, cultural and sexual conflicts both within Islam and between Islam and the West.

Regardless of the mechanism that got Hitchens started down this fateful road, the preoccupation has made him a busy man.

NewsMax caught up with the peripatetic author upon his return last week from Shanghai, China.

The damage done by this failure is now irreparable. Clearly, the Iraqi democracy theme is more appealing, but that case makes itself without any administration "spin." Meanwhile, it is a rare week that does not bring news of some appalling blunder or misjudgment: most recently the planting of "good news" in the Iraqi press and the misuse of the NSA.

The frigid neutrality of the soft-left human rights, ecological and feminist "community" has meantime been eclipsed by something even more contemptible: the open alignment of Ramsey Clark, doyen of the "anti-war" forces, with the past policies of the Saddam Hussein regime. His apologia for the crimes of which Baathism stands accused is an unmitigated disgrace, as is the silence of his political allies on the point.

As for precedent, even during the debate on whether or not to intervene in Bosnia, cities like New York did "adopt" Sarajevo. The connection between the current indifference and an open or covert wish to see a Coalition defeat in Iraq is one of the most horrible things I have ever witnessed.

The CIA has tried to use Dr. Chalabi as a scapegoat for its own incompetence, corruption and defeatism, and has found a depressing number of liberal and "left" allies in this brazen attempt to change the subject. Its attempted frame-up of Chalabi in Baghdad itself has been a resounding failure, while he himself (at some cost in political re-branding) has become an admired and useful politician in his own country.

I think his past ability to work with Kurds, Communists, Shi'a and other disparate forces gives him an advantage, despite the risk that proteanism can be confused with opportunism.


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Commentator Christopher Hitchens tells NewsMax that the Bush administration has been crippled in its war on terror by "debilitating inter-agency fratricide" as agencies like the CIA, NSA, Defense and State departments war over the president's policies. The...
Sunday, 18 December 2005 12:00 AM
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