The Limey Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

My PITC alerted me to this column by Christopher Hitchens on the “lynching” of Saddam Hussein. Now, all and sundry should know by now that I do love The Hitch. His foppish ferocity, his rhetorical brilliance, not to mention his sheer shit-faced showmanship – all of these set my heart aflutter (though not as much as a glimpse of Ghida Fakhry). But while I agree with the Hitch that Saddam Hussein was an exceptionally brutal menace who required elimination, I’m afraid he has increasingly let himself indulge in a fantasy of what Iraq truly is in the aftermath of Hussein’s ouster, rather than accept the unfortunate reality. Or, perhaps more precisely, Hitchens spends so much energy savaging his opponents and their arguments, often brilliantly, that he never stops to notice that he is defending a mirage.

Hitchens accuses U.S. officials of acquiescing in a “crude Shiite coup d’état” by handing Hussein over to “the unwashed goons of Muqtada Sadr’s ‘Mahdi Army.'” But Saddam Hussein ceased to be the ruler of Iraq long ago and the Iraqi central government is already in the hands of Shiite militias. Where, pray tell, is the coup? Hitchens seems to imply that the Mahdi army and SCIRI’s Badr Corps wrested power from the hands of some Enlightenment liberal, democratically-elected Iraqi government by force of arms. The fact is that they never had to. They are the democratically-elected government. The United States didn’t acquiesce in a coup; it toppled the pre-existing government all on its own, enabling a Shiite ascendancy via the ballot box while insisting on the charade of Iraqi national unity.

The majority of Iraqis are Shiites and the majority of Shiites appear to have cheered the “lynching” of Saddam Hussein. Muqtada Al-Sadr’s name has more legitimacy on the streets than American troops, the rule of law, or the idea of “Iraq.” I know very well what The Hitch is fighting against – Baathists, Wahabists, Sadrists, Cindy Sheehan. But what, in heaven and Iraq, is he fighting for?

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2 Comments on “The Limey Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks”

  1. Mike Harrison Says:

    Vengeance is such an important component of capital punishment, and methinks it should not be a component of “justice” in any democracy.
    But what do I know?

  2. HW Says:

    Justice is simply vengeance with some regulatory limits. That said, I believe Big Mike is probably right.


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