Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Christopher Hitchens: "A War to Be Proud Of"

In addition to contributing the post immediately below, the ever-watchful Ralph Kostant points us to this excellent Weekly Standard piece by Christopher Hitchens. Like most of Hitchens work, the piece is too densely packed with gleaming nuggets to do justice to it with a snippet quotation. Here's one anyway:

Coexistence with aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies is not in fact possible. One should welcome this conclusion for the additional reason that such coexistence is not desirable, either. If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.
I greatly respect Mr. Hitchens' intellectual honesty, because the opinions he routinely expresses on foreign policy cannot make him popular in the journalistic elites (like the Vanity Fair crowd) among which he moves.

Hitchens' piece also brings to mind another important aspect of the current war effort: The inability of the White House (and yes, President Bush) to articulate the justification for the war. I am as committed a conservative Republican and Bush supporter as one can be, but I must admit I find this disappointing. The president keeps on repeating the same old mantra: We removed a terrible dictator; we're fighting them there instead of here; etc. All that is true, but he can't just keep saying it over and over without developing some other derivative themes; the fickle public will simply get bored. Meanwhile, the MSM simply reports on U.S. casualties.

When I read Hitchens' piece, I see ten compelling reasons why the war is very much worthy of our support and pride. But why should Americans have to dig into the pages of The Weekly Standard to see those reasons? As Hitchens notes:

It would be admirable if the president could manage to make such a presentation. It would also be welcome if he and his deputies adopted a clear attitude toward the war within the war: in other words, stated plainly, that the secular and pluralist forces within Afghan and Iraqi society, while they are not our clients, can in no circumstance be allowed to wonder which outcome we favor.
Alas, GWB is the only president we have. He's wonderful. But he needs some help telling his story. Where are Peggy Noonan and Karen Hughes? We need them.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, indeed. Thanks to Ralph Kostant and you for bringing this article to my attention, which I was able to read at lunch. Mr. Hitchens' discussion of the reasons behind the President's apparent inability to make the case for the war is disheartening:

"'[H]ow come the White House hasn't told us?'

"I do in fact know the answer to this question. So deep and bitter is the split within official Washington, most especially between the Defense Department and the CIA, that any claim made by the former has been undermined by leaks from the latter. (The latter being those who maintained, with a combination of dogmatism and cowardice not seen since Lincoln had to fire General McClellan, that Saddam Hussein was both a "secular" actor and--this is the really rich bit--a rational and calculating one.)

"There's no cure for that illusion, but the resulting bureaucratic chaos and unease has cornered the president into his current fallback upon platitude and hollowness."

Such bureaucratic infighting (and Hitchens doesn't even mention State) is the result of agencies that seem to believe that it is up to them to define the policy of the United States, regardless of what direction the leader of the administration may have taken the country toward. The agencies believe that they are somehow "above politics" when in fact they are merely entrenched bureaucrats who will not yield their own worldviews in the interst of the policies of the country itself as defined by elected leaders.

That being said, a good press secretary and some good writings used more frequently, could go a long way in helping the President despite the bureaucratic morass. President Bush II at least, unlike his father, seems to have "the vision thing." It's unfortunate that he lacks the ability to communicate it. 

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 2:10:00 PM  

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