Vanity Fair’s Christopher Hitchens extended interview about the state of the war on terror.
HH: I’m joined by Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens. Christopher Hitchens, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. We’ve missed you.
CH: Nice to be back. How was Alaska?
HH: It was wonderful. And were you down South America way?
CH: I was in Brazil.
HH: and how is Brazil’s stability. The rest of the continent’s going you know where.
CH: The sad thing about Brazil is that the only word in Brazilian Portuguese that everybody in the world knows is favella, which means uncontrollable slum, or ghetto. And in…of the big cities like Rio De Janeiro, but particularly Sao Paulo, which is the biggest city in our hemisphere, it seems to be slipping slight out of control. I mean, the guys in the prisons give orders that the police are forced to obey. It’s rough.
HH: Is the general continental instability in South America a result of ideology, of poverty, or of malcontents like Hugo Chavez who know how to play on both?
CH: Well, there will always be Peronists like him. I mean, he reminds me very much of Peron, and acts almost exactly the same way, and of course, has fooled a lot of the left into thinking he’s a radical when he’s just another demagogic populist. But I tell you what I think the real problem is in the favellas in Brazil, which is a problem for all of us, including in neighboring countries, or adjacent ones like Colombia and Bolivia, is this stupid war on drugs. I mean, this is what happens if you allow a commodity that everybody wants either to produce or to consume to be controlled only by criminals. And I think that that’s the root of an enormous amount of this fusion between desperation and poverty, and crime and violence.
HH: Well, I’m not going to argue with that, because obviously, the cartels of Colombia and of the surrounding region have wreaked havoc throughout. But Christopher Hitchens, what would the world look like if the commodities they offer are freely available?
CH: You mean, what would the world be like if I could decide what I put in my body, and not the government?
CH: Better, by definition. And it would mean that the stuff was cleaner. It wouldn’t be cut with poison. It would mean that it would…could be obtainable on prescription, and you’d have to pay for it, and you’d have to pay tax on it, and there’s a large amount of money could be raised…
HH: Now wait. That’s not…prescription is not…
CH: It would mean that people in my neighborhood…
HH: But prescription is not what you suggested. Then you don’t get to decide what you put in your body. You’re talking about legalization.
CH: Well, decriminalization would be the minimum that I’d say.
HH: But have you ever met a crystal meth addict?
HH: And what did he or she look like to you?
CH: Pretty bad.
HH: And that’s what we would have, an epidemic.
CH: I don’t think even the sexual side effects can be worth it in the long run, but that’s true of a lot of stimulants and depressants. I mean, I’ve met lot of alcoholics, too, and lots of people with lung cancer.
HH: Yeah, but people with alcoholism and lung cancer and nicotine diseases don’t become completely deranged, violent, and almost psychotic in a matter of months.
CH: No, that’s true, but that’s kind of self-cancelling in a way. It takes care of itself. What I don’t want is people shooting themselves and each other, and in my neighborhood in Washington for the right to sell something that I can actually buy with one phone call if I want it. I actually don’t, I don’t use the stuff, but the thing…now we’ve taken a commodity…look at what’s happening in Afghanistan for an example. There’s only one real crop that people can grow there, and hope to get any kind of income until they recover there, their vines and their orange trees. They’re going to take a long time. And we turn up and burn it for them, and we say the only people who are allowed to take a share in this trade, and raise enormous money from it, are the Taliban and the warlords. We are handing Afghanistan back to barbarism by this stupid dogma.
HH: Well, I’m still not sure, though, the alternative is to decriminalize or legalize that which immediately ruins lives…
CH: No, it doesn’t matter…if we bought Afghanistan’s opium crop, we could throw it away if we liked, or just…
HH: Oh, I’m actually in favor of that.
CH: But the thing is, we happen to be very short of pain killers in this country. There’s a lot of people who are underprescribed for analgesics, and suffering needless pain. Somebody has to grow the opium in order for proper pain killers to be made. And currently, we pay the Turks to do it. I can’t understand why they get the business, and not the Afghans. All this could be made perfectly rational, an subject to what I’m sure you would call market forces.
HH: Well, some people say MSNBC comes close.
HH: Let’s move on, Christopher Hitchens, to the news that we have not had a chance to cover, and that is the London bombing plot. And your friend, Andrew Sullivan, originally aired a post saying perhaps it was a put-up job, but I think everyone is now persuaded that the jihadis are deep, sophisticated, and enduring in London and in environs. Is Britain up to dealing with this?
CH: Well, yes, I think so. By the way, I mean, Andrew could be wrong about this, or he could be right. but whoever is right about this case, or wrong about it, your point is correct. I mean, they are in England, in Britain, and they are well dug in. And if this plot turned out to be a fantasy, there are several that have not, as we found out last July. There are signs of encouragement. I mean, this thing does create antibodies within the Muslim community. After all, you had every chance of being killed on one of those planes if you were a believing Muslim, and that registers with people. They live there. London, in particular, is an incredibly welcoming city, and very various. There’s really…no one can complain that they’re driven to violence by the conditions in London. It’s quite an absurd claim. They’re only driven to violence by the evil preachings of deranged imams, who should be deported, or silenced, or jailed.
HH: Is the…my co-blogger at Hughhewitt.com, Dean Barnett, wrote a piece saying…asserting that he believes a radical Islamic wave is sweeping Islam now. Not merely an al Qaeda outpost here and a cell there and one bad mosque, but is in fact sweeping Islam. Do you agree with that assessment?
CH: Yes, I’ve been saying so for years. I think there’s a civil war within the Muslim world, and it’s being waged by people who want to impose the law of Sharia…I won’t…one shouldn’t say the law of Sharia. Sharia means law…who want to impose Sharia, and want to restore the old caliphate, the former empire. Just in brackets, by the way, all those who think that they’re anti-imperialists are fooling themselves and others. These people are pro-imperialists. They want an empire of their own. The method they use for it, which they call jihad in fact nothing more than the use of terrifying force against innocents. And they hope to win this war within Islam by exporting it to the West, and to show how tough they are, and to intimidate and terrify people. And they’re doing, I would say, very well.
HH: Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago law professor, wrote in the New Republic today, that when this subject comes up, people vote Republican. So his advice to Democrats is to work to keep terrorism out of the news. Is that responsible advice?
CH: (laughing) Did he really say that?
HH: Yes, he did.
CH: I have, I mean, I have heard him and read him say some rather iffy things, and that seems like pure oppressionism to me, I have to say.
HH: It is, and…
CH: I mean, and keeping it out of the news is going to be a pretty full-time job, and it still won’t work. I mean, the ways in which people, the inventive ways in which people will blow up each other’s mosques in order to make a point, for example, including making my point about it being a Muslim civil war, are pretty hard for a reporter, however concerned for the future of the Democratic Party, to ignore, wouldn’t you say?
HH: Yes, but they’re doing a good job of it in Connecticut. Will it work in Connecticut?
CH: I do…I tell you what. I have a theory that I call the Berkelian theory, and it’s not to do with the university. It’s not unknown on the campuses at that university. You know the old question about if a tree falls in the forest, and no one’s there to here it, did it really make a sound? A lot of people think if we were not in Iraq, this stuff either wouldn’t be happening, or we wouldn’t have to care. And this really staggers me, because I had thought five years ago next month, it’ll be, famous date, that the first thing that would become clear to people is there’s no such thing as a difference between over here and over there.
HH: Have you seen World Trade Center? Oliver Stone’s movie?
CH: Yes, I have. I even saw the man himself at the first showing in San Francisco, and I must say I was astounded. The last time I saw him, we had a debate in New York at a film festival, while you could still smell the World Trade Center from downtown. It was still smoldering and sinking. And he said it was an uprising that had occurred there, a revolutionary uprising, and when it was joined by the forces of anti-globalizing, anti-capitalist mobilization, it would probably be a revolution. And I discussed if he’d like to have another go at saying that, while we could still smell it, and he stuck to his line. Why he’s changed, and produced a film that could have been made by John Wayne, I don’t know.
HH: But it is a fine film, in my estimate. Did you think it achieved what a film of that sort ought to have achieved?
CH: You know, to be honest, I thought it was banal. I mean, that’s why I say…when I say John Wayne, I don’t mean that…
HH: …as a compliment.
CH: …as a praise. I mean, the lantern-jawed Marine who silently gets up in his home in New England…
HH: Except it’s real, Christopher Hitchens.
CH: Puts on his uniform, and looks at an old rugged, wooden cross, and then goes downtown to do the right thing? I mean, I know some of this did happen, and I’m proud to be an admirer of whoever did it. But I mean, it was absolutely without nuance of any kind.
HH: But there is no nuance in the destruction of 3,000 lives, and there is no nuance in courage, is there? It’s pretty bold and in primary colors.
CH: Yes, I don’t know, I thought Nicholas Cage, I read somewhere, of where he said it was the best acting of his life. If all you have to do is lie pinned, and sort of whisper huskily, and then guess what? Across cuts your family who are worried about you. I mean, I couldn’t…I found it really difficult to stay awake.
HH: By the way, 10 seconds, Christopher. Do you suppose the NSA program had anything to do with foiling the London bombing plot?
CH: Nothing that I know about, no.
HH: Okay, that’s why it’s secret.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, I’d like to play for you an exchange I had yesterday with General John Abizaid from Qatar. It’s cut number four:
HH: General, I’m aware of your time, so I don’t want to abuse it. And I’ll…just two more questions, unless you want to go longer. I’ll go as long as you want, but I know you’re busy. Is the issue of pre-invasion WMD in Iraq closed in your mind, General?
JA: Well, I always hesitate, Hugh, to get involved in this issue that’s become so highly politicized. Let me just say the issue of WMD is probably the single most important issue in the region. And every day, I deal with the intelligence of looking over what al Qaeda talks about. And as a matter of fact, all you have to do is go to their websites. They are looking for a safe haven so they can gain time to develop WMD of some sort. Whether it’s chemical, biological or nuclear, they have the intent to use it. They have stated it openly, over and over again. And were it not for the fact that these people are trying to acquire WMD, and intend to use it against us, and the technological capability in the world today might allow that to happen, I’m not so sure that the effort out here would need to be as big as it is. But we’ve got to keep these guys on the defensive, we can’t let them get a safe haven, and we absolutely can’t let them get WMD in their hands.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, that is as succinct a statement of what the war is about as I’ve heard in a long time. Do you agree with his assessment?
CH: Well, I thought it was much too modest. I mean, when you were asking him about the issue of pre-war WMD, and you can’t claim that he succinctly answered that question.
HH: No, he sidestepped that, saying it’s just too political.
CH: No, but of course, I believe in civilian control. He’s not the person to make a determination about this, but I think he could have done better, and just say that we’ve found a lot of evidence, as a result of the invasion, that couldn’t have been found by the inspectors, a functioning, latent, WMD state, that has the continuing ambitions, and some of the means to re-equip itself. And I think it needs to be said every single time, even though it’s become a mantra that you can’t mention Saddam and WMD in the same sentence. I happen to know, and can prove to anybody, that that supposition is false.
HH: Oh, I know. You proved it with regard to the Niger yellowcake.
HH: But I’m more interested, though, in going forward, supporting the war and maintaining a commitment to the war, that people understand what Abizaid to be true, that if they find a safe haven, they will obtain eventually, and perhaps quickly.
CH: No, he was absolutely right about that. I mean, what people don’t understand, but can easily learn if they look it up, is this, that after they were expelled from Afghanistan, the al Qaeda forces began to look for the next potentially failed…or actually rogue state in which to operate, and they all started making their way over, a significant number of them did, through Iran, to Iraq. They thought that was the next place where there would be a chance for them to do what the Taliban and al Qaeda had done in Afghanistan, to have at least a state within a state, and maybe the whole state.
CH: And of course, it was absolutely essential to prevent that from happening, and I can’t understand why people have any difficulty with that position.
HH: Well, that leads me to Southern Lebanon, where a state within a state, intent upon producing WMD has got to be presumed to exist in Hezbollah, and yet the world has attempted to do everything possible to keep Israel from crushing them.
CH: It’s funny. Actually, I fear to say that until a couple of months ago, the situation in Lebanon was actually, Hezbollah had a state within a non-state. But you may think that’s a small distinction. I think it may be quite a large one. Here’s what interests me. When countries like, say, North Korea acquire weaponry of a dangerous kind, people say well, they don’t have a delivery system for it, you know, as though no need to worry yet. Now with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, they’ve demonstrated repeatedly that they do have the delivery system. What they don’t yet have is the material. But sooner or later, someone’s going to put the two things together. And therfore, it’s important to care about the one as the other.
HH: So what do you want the world to do, Christopher Hitchens, visavis Hezbollah, Syria and Iran?
CH: Well, I think it’s a matter of going to the source. I’ve always thought so. I mean, it doesn’t matter which road you go down, whether it’s the European Union doing its best to make Iran keep at least the promises its actually signed, or whether it’s the U.N. trying in its so pathetic way to do that, or whether it’s tracking international gangsters who blow up the Jewish community center as far away as Buenos Aires, who can be traced right back to Iran, we have the names of known people in the Iranian government who are wanted men, who have commissioned assassinations and death squad activity overseas, and we do nothing about it. Whether it’s that, or whether it’s the question of the independence of Lebanon, or the role play by Syria, it doesn’t matter at…or the importation of increasingly sophisticated killing materials into Iraq. At whichever point you pick up the thread, it leads you back to Tehran.
HH: And if any of those criminals in Tehran, or their operatives around the world, are calling their operatives in the United States, do you think that there really is a warrant necessity in time of war?
CH: Oh, sure. Obviously yes. I mean, if there’s going to be a surveillance of calls made or received by Americans from overseas, then you have to get a warrant for it.
HH: Well, you’re wrong about that, but you did win a round. Were you impressed with Judge Diggs-Taylor’s reasoning?
CH: I thought it was a little emotional, perhaps.
HH: A little conclusory?
CH: Well, and in fact, in her reference, much attacked, to the idea of the president as a monarch, though she added the word heredity, which seemed to me rather odd, I was afraid that she might have lifted it from my own article in Vanity Fair. And of course, when that happens, I feel a terrible sense of insecurity, as I thought if people are relying on what I’ve written, they must be desperate for a line.
HH: Now (laughing)…you’re probably right. I want to play for you a little Howard Dean today on George Bush in Iraq. Cut number two, please:
Wolf Blitzer: Here’s what the president said earlier this week, when it comes to the difference between what he said, where Democrats have views on Iraq, and what his position is. Listen to what he said.
GWB: There’s a fundamental difference between many of the Democrats, and my party. And that is, they want to leave before the job is completed in Iraq. And again, I repeat. These are decent people, you know, they’re just as American as I am. I just happen to strongly disagree with them. And it’s very important for the American people to understand the consequences of leaving Iraq before the job is done.
WB: That’s translated by a lot of Republican politicians into charges of cut and run, that that’s what you want to do, and basically, give up any hope for trying to deal with the situation in Iraq.
HD: This is exactly what was going on in Vietnam, and the President and the Vice President are saying exactly what Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew said, again and again and again. It resulted in 25,000 more Americans being killed in Vietnam, and the result was the same as it would have been had we left earlier. This is wishful thinking on the part of the President. They never thought this out. I can remember the Secretary of Defense saying the whole war would be paid for by Iraqi oil. The Vice President was saying we’d be greeted as liberators. These folks are fundamentally out of touch with what’s going on in Iraq, and they’re fundamentally out of touch with the needs of the American people, and we need a new direction in this country, Wolf, and we’re going to have a new direction after November.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, your response?
CH: Oh, you hardly know where to start. Well, for one thing, just a minor factual point, but it keeps coming up, I was there. I saw coalition forces being greeted with enormous joy, and welcomed in a quite obviously unseined way. No one’s ever going to tell me I didn’t see that with my own eyes. I did. It is not completely untrue to say that Iraq could pay for itself, if we could get a breathing space to recover its oil industry. That’s not at all a fatuous point. There are people who are determined to ruin the country, rather than let it be democratic. They’re giving us a real fight on that, but the fact remains the leader of the Democrats in the Senate the other day, Senator Reid, said, in his response to a presidential broadcast, that the terrorists would not be there if we were not. In other words, the blame for this fantastic campaign of cruelty and sabotage and sadism is laid at the door of those who are trying to fight it.
HH: Over and over again.
HH: I just wanted to get your reaction to two more Howard Dean clips, Christopher Hitchens, earlier today on the Situation Room on CNN. Here is Howard Dean talking with Wolf about a Wolf/Joe Lieberman exchange. Cut number four.
WB: When it comes to this issue, Senator Joe Lieberman clearly disagrees with you, and in part, that helped explain why he lost the Democratic primary in his home state of Connecticut. I interviewed him here in the Situation Room yesterday. Listen to this exchange I had with Senator Lieberman.
WB: Are you telling us, can you look into the camera and tell the people of Connecticut once and for all you would not, then, join the Republican Caucus?
JL: That’s absolutely what I’ve said. Are you representing the Republicans here today?
WB: I’m asking the questions.
JL: No. The answer is, I’ve made that clear. I have…
WB: So there’s no chance you would side with the Republicans, even though you would become a chairman, potentially, of a committee?
JL: No, I’m a Democrat, and I will remain a Democrat.
WB: You’re a Democrat, too, Governor Dean. It looks like there’s a win-win, potentially, for the Democrats. If Ned Lamont wins, he’s a Democrat. If Joe Lieberman wins, he says he’s a Democrat.
HD: Look, I’m the chairman of the Democratic Party. The Democratic voters in Connecticut chose Ned Lamont, who’s a very capable, very smart guy, who’s moving forward and looking for a new direction in America. And I’m 100% supporting Ned Lamont. I’m going to campaign with him, we’re going to help him in every way possible. We believe that the voters have spoken. When the voters speak, you have to honor that in politics.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, the left has put the Democratic Party in a nightmare situation. Do they have to win? Does Lamont have to win to keep the net roots, and the Michael Moores of the world with any shred of credibility?
CH: No, because they could always say, and they will if they lose, that they made this difference, and I think that’s already very important to them. By the way, Mr. Dean is not the chairman of the Democratic Party. He can’t stop being a micro-megalomaniac. He’s the chair of a very lowly organization called the Democratic National Committee, which is increasingly enthrall to these bloggers and pro-war, other side purporting fanatics.
HH: And do you…that’s interesting. You believe the bloggers are pro-war the other side?
CH: I would absolutely reject the definition of anti-war people like, for example, Michael Moore and many others, who have openly said they’re not pacifists. They’ve openly hailed the other side, and said they hope and believe it will win. You can’t call yourself anti-war if you say that. If you describe these butchers and beheaders and foreign-imported suicide motorists and so on as insurgents or as resistence fighters, then you’ve taken your stand, and you’ve announced what side you’re on, and fair enough. But let’s not have that called anti-war.
HH: Is it unpatriotic for Michael Moore to say such things?
CH: Well, I don’t know about unpatriotic. I mean, these people are not just fighting or killing Americans. I mean, it’s rather it’s those that disagree with the President, who describe these, rightly enough, he’s only elected by Americans, of course. There’s an attack on America? I mean, I think 80 different nationalities resorted in the World Trade Center. It’s an attack on civilization. So people who make excuses for those who do it are a bit worse than unpatriotic, I’d say. They’re taking the side of barbarism.
HH: The Presbyterian Church USA, PCUSA, of which I am an elder, has published a book by a theologian claiming that the United States government was behind the 9/11 attack. It’s not the only nutter book out there. It is among them. But what do you…
CH: Good grief. Has it gone that far? I mean…
HH: Yes, it has.
CH: I mean, I saw that crap video, if you’ll pardon the expression, it’s called Loose Change?
CH: There was also a very good frame by frame rebuttal of it. There is a lot of garbage like that around, yes.
HH: And of the people that purvey that, why are they doing it, Christopher Hitchens? Because there’s no logical way you can reach…
CH: Well, one of these days, we, you and I, sir, are going to have to have a discussion about the role of the Churches and Christianity, and all this. I mean, the role of practically every Church in the country, and internationally, from His Holiness, the Pope, to the American Council of Churches, and the…that you’re apparently a member of, was uniformly in favor of keeping Saddam Hussein in power, and uniformly says that Osama bin Laden is the product of poverty, rather than the cause of it, and the product of misery, rather than the cause of it. I’ve always believed that Christianity is a very superficial and trivial form of masochism, and guilt.
HH: Well, you certainly can’t confuse…
CH: And it doesn’t surprise me…
HH: I know you believe that, but you can’t confuse the leadership of mainstream denominations who are addled, with the actual believers…
CH: Not my problem. Not my problem. I’m not a member of this disgraceful Church.
HH: Well, that’s what…but what is motivating…
CH: Well, or I may say, of any other. I have no…I refuse to have…
HH: I know that. (laughing)
CH: I do not grant bin Laden his first premise, as you do. He grants that there’s a God who intervenes in our affairs…
HH: In the affairs of men, yes. I’m with the framers.
HH: I am with the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and with Jefferson. I do believe such agency exists. But I’ll let you respond, since you wrote the Jefferson biography.
CH: Excuse me, but Jefferson did not believe such agency existed. He believed that there was a God, or at least that there seemed to be from the observation of nature a requirement for a first cause.
CH: He was a deist. He absolutely did not believe…
HH: I know, but he did use nature, and nature’s God in the Declaration, and those who…
CH: And that’s what he meant by it. Of course…
HH: And those who surrounded him did believe.
CH: Of course he contradicted himself when people of faith of any sort are bound to do that, as I say. Their contradictions are not my problem.
HH: Put him in shackles, will you? We’ll be right back, if we can keep Hitchens.
HH: I’m abusing his time today, and I apologize. I still owe you dinner the next time you’re in Southern California, Christopher Hitchens, and it will be my pleasure. The book I’m referring to, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, has been published. The author is David Ray Griffin. It’s been published by the Presbyterian Church USA’s publishing house, and the defense of it comes from the head of that house, John Knox, very funny name. It says, “We have a long tradition of being a publisher of somewhat progressive stances on theological and social issues. So it is not out of character for us to do this.” Is a book that alleges the Bush administration brought down the towers a progressive book, Christopher Hitchens?
CH: Well, only if you think that the ravings of Osama bin Laden are liberation theology, which a lot of people do. They think that he is the voice of the unheard and the oppressed, and so on. They don’t realize, or they don’t remember, or they don’t know that he’s actually the client of repressive governments like the Afghan one, or the current Sudanese one, that he hoped the Indonesian government would destroy the new independence in East Timor, that he kills anyone who disagrees with him, and takes the particular pleasure in killing civilians. But because he’s so to say third world, people don’t notice, for example, that he attacked the government of India the entire time, and hopes to destroy it by taking Kashmir out of the Indian federation. Naive people, like these idiots in the Presbyterian Church, who by the way, were idiots for a lot longer than this, tend to think well this must be a brown-skinned, third-world cry for help. It just goes to show how moronic people can be, and wicked, too, to coin a phrase.
HH: That’s what I was going to ask you, if it is, in fact, reprehensible, immoral, as you said, wicked, to publish such books, or to write such books?
CH: To tell people that the main enemy is not what it actually is, namely theological facism and its roots with cult of death, and its love of death, and its announced preference for death over life. To say that instead, this violence is directed to you by the U.S. government is yes, I think it’s an absolutely evil thing to be saying, as well as…well, unless it’s said by someone who is a perfect idiot, so stupid as to be innocent. And it must be a conscious lie, and a conscious lie, I think, is a wicked thing.
HH: Cut number three from my interview with General Abizaid yesterday, Christopher Hitchens, on the nature of the enemy.
HH: General Abizaid, is the American media, and I understand fully your commitment to 1st Amendment freedom, as every member of the American military is always quick to say, but is the American media making your job easier or harder in securing stability and ending extremism in the region?
JA: Well, I don’t know that I want to characterize what the American media is doing or not doing, other than to say it would be a huge help for everybody if we started talking about our enemies out here, what they stand for, what they want, what their vision of the world is, why they’re dangerous, and how this is a worthy fight to fight at this level now, rather than letting it wait to get worse.
HH: What is their vision of the world, the enemy…
JA: And I think that’s the unspoken story. It’s the enemy…
JA: I’m sorry, Hugh. I didn’t understand you.
HH: What is their vision, the enemy’s vision of the world?
JA: Well, certainly, if you look at al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, all you have to do is go onto one of their websites. But you see it as to drive out the United States from the region, overthrow the regional powers, take over the Sunni Arab world first, and then the Muslim world, and install a Sharia-type government that would look very much like the government that they installed under the Taliban, when the Taliban ran Afghanistan. And if you want to know what that looks like, it’s executions in the soccer stadium, no rights for women anywhere, Sharia law strictly enforced, no music, you name it. And the people in the region really, don’t want that kind of a future for themselves or for their kids.
HH: And the vision of the Iranian revolutionary regime?
JA: Well, the Iranian revolutionary regime has a different sort of a notion, but it’s one that’s primarily a world in which Iranian influence and power call the shots in the Middle East, and done so under the current Shiia, revolutionary precepts that you see played out in Tehran, which again, is very, very restrictive. Not as restrictive as what Osama bin Laden brings, but certainly more restrictive than the people like. When you ask Iranians whether or not they approve of this government, they’d just as soon get on to some other kind of government that’s more liberal.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, does General Abizaid correctly assess the intent of these regimes, or these forces?
CH: Yes, I think there’s nothing to disagree with him what he says. If anything, it’s a little too…I would say the Iranian regime, by the way, was a counter-revolutionary regime. It’s a regime of an extremely reactionary kind that destroyed the revolution, the democratic revolution against the Shah, and buried it, and hijacked it to impose a theocracy which the General is also right to say, I would confirm from my own visits to Iran, is very much disliked and distrusted by people, that it keeps them in beggary and under-development, and under the constant threat of war.
HH: And so if his assessment is correct, and I agree with it, and you think it’s understated, but you agree with it, if the Democratic Party achieves majorities in either the House or the Senate in the November elections, will that enemy be better off or worse off as a result of the policies they propose to pursue?
CH: Well, given the awful things that senior Democrats have been saying, some of them anyway, about the false theory that the violence and cruelty and irrationality of these people is only the product of American policy, is not produced by itself, one might expect things to be worse. But you know what? When the Democrats are in power, this stuff is not going to stop. However nice they try and make at the U.N., or anywhere else, and with a part of myself, I sort of look forward to them having to confront it, and not having the chance of being shielded by the Bush administration, and their free ability to criticize it while contributing nothing to the struggle.
HH: Couldn’t the consequences…
CH: They won’t be in that position anymore. They’ll have to answer to the voters.
HH: But isn’t that risk enormous, that they won’t? That they’ll go ostrich and we’ll be defeated?
CH: No, I don’t think…I frankly don’t think so. No, I think that the…in spite of the fact that the administration has utterly failed to make a good case for itself in Iraq, in particularly in Iraq, and has just colluded in a fantastic month of failure and defeat in Lebanon, I still think the American people do understand what Abizaid said. They know who the enemy is, and they will demand a government that fights them.
HH: All right. Christopher Hitchens, thanks for a lot of time this week. Look forward to talking to you again soon.
End of interview.