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The Blair Hitch Project - Comments

thatgingerscouser's Avatar Comment 1 by thatgingerscouser

Wow, Hitchens had me feeling a twinge of sympathy for Blair there. Damn he's good...!

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 05:21:42 UTC | #575952

kamel's Avatar Comment 2 by kamel

A job for life? you must be joking sir.With Tony Bliar in charge a permanent solution can be cooked an few days.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 05:23:45 UTC | #575953

Pete H's Avatar Comment 3 by Pete H

Amen to all that.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 05:25:11 UTC | #575954

Canasian's Avatar Comment 4 by Canasian

Refined uniqueness, and I can't help but chuckle at his choice of titles.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 05:46:34 UTC | #575958

Tray Donovan's Avatar Comment 5 by Tray Donovan

Why is it I feel as though I just walked on a bridge I wasn't supposed to walk on? Methinks I hear the rumbling of a troll.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 07:04:20 UTC | #575971

Charisma's Avatar Comment 6 by Charisma

This really was an excellent debate. I'm glad Hitchens wrote a piece on it.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 07:17:09 UTC | #575973

Gunga Lagunga's Avatar Comment 7 by Gunga Lagunga

Umm... okay Hitchens. I reckon. Sure. Why not.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 07:28:05 UTC | #575975

sbooder's Avatar Comment 8 by sbooder

Hitch, you have been duped mate.

I found Blair whispering with one of his aides. As I paused at the door, they both looked up rather shyly. I offered to withdraw, but they said no: they had just been saying to each other how grateful they were that I had said some words that evening in defense of his decision to remove Saddam Hussein.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 07:59:06 UTC | #575978

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 9 by Stevehill

When Tony Blair took office, Slobodan Milošević was cleansing and raping the republics of the former Yugoslavia. Mullah Omar was lending Osama bin Laden the hinterland of a failed and rogue state. Charles Taylor of Liberia was leading a hand-lopping militia of enslaved children across the frontier of Sierra Leone, threatening a blood-diamond version of Rwanda in West Africa. And the wealth and people of Iraq were the abused private property of Saddam Hussein and his crime family. Today, all of these Caligula figures are at least out of power, and at the best either dead or on trial. How can anybody with a sense of history not grant Blair some portion of credit for this? And how can anybody with a tincture of moral sense go into a paroxysm and yell that it is he who is the war criminal? It is as if all the civilians murdered by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be charged to his account. This is the chaotic mentality of Julian Assange and his groupies.

Count me as one of those groupies then. We, the so-called good guys, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq and displaced up to 5 million.

We have new bad guys to replace the old ones. There is practically no evidence that the Bush/Blair muscular doctrine of fighting a "War on Terror" has done anything whatsoever to reduce the threat to the West. There is more evidence than any reasonable person could demand to suggest that they have increased the threats and the chances of us each being a victim.

We have thrown away our own freedoms - e.g. the Patriot Act - to kowtow before this insane doctrine.

Hitch has always had a strange blind spot about the West's illegal wars, quick to praise the (small) upsides and utterly blinkered to the substantial downsides.

In a few years "we" will be out of both Iraq and Afghanistan for good. The local "democratic" leaderships will be the same old, same old - corrupt, heroin-trading, stuffing their Swiss accounts with oil money, and appeasing the Taliban.

Do we really think most of their people will think it was "worth it"?

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 08:07:01 UTC | #575980

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 10 by Michael Gray

Read the final two paragraphs. Have a puke bag handy. Hitchens soundly praises the genocidal Blair, yet obliquely drubs the non-criminal Julian Assange. Perhaps the chemo is finally getting to him?

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 08:08:29 UTC | #575981

Alex Burton's Avatar Comment 11 by Alex Burton

Again Hitchens takes a swipe at Julian Assange without much reasoning. A touch of jealousy perhaps ?

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 09:11:19 UTC | #575992

fuzzylogic's Avatar Comment 12 by fuzzylogic

Stop trying to read into Hitchens' opinion on the wars and Wikileaks and such. I think we all know him well enough to know he doesn't have ulterior motives or play the spin game, he says what he means and we can simply disagree respectfully with a man of his integrity and intellect.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 09:16:38 UTC | #575993

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 13 by Steve Zara

Comment 11 by Michael Gray

When someone far more learned and experienced than me says something I disagree with, I can consider them wrong, but it would seem arrogant of me to question the soundness of their reasoning. Such a person is not likely to reveal a lack of intellect and integrity but only when they happen to disagree with my views. That would be a remarkable coincidence.

This is why I find occasional comments along the lines of Hitch having 'lost it' over Iraq to be so bizarre.

If you believe that Hitchens is perfectly sound on just about everything but lets himself down when he disagrees with you, then that says more about you than it does about Hitchens.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 09:18:16 UTC | #575994

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 14 by Richard Dawkins

I thoroughly agree with Comments 14 and 15.

Richard

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 09:36:32 UTC | #575997

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 15 by debonnesnouvelles

To anyone feeling slightly uncomfortable after reading the article, I recommend to immediately watch the Blair/ Hitch debate as an antidote. Or indeed any of Hitch's debates from the last few months. His arguments and reasoning, as sharp as a razor blade, soon alleviate any feeling of discomfort you might have just experienced.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 09:52:02 UTC | #576002

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 16 by Stephen of Wimbledon

In response to Comment 10

I totally agree. This seems to be an out-of-character blind spot for Hitchens, and I don't think I will ever understand how he legitimates the actions of Bush Jr. and Blair - or how he can reconcile this act of terrorism with his obviously moral character and solidarity with the common people.

It is not just with the benefit of hindsight that we can see that the Iraq War 'cure' hurt far more people than the 'illness'. Not conceding, of course, that what occurred was a cure. As Steve Hill points out (Comment 10): It is looking increasingly likely no-one will be better off in the longer term. No, the majority of the British people had made it clear that they wanted no part in Bush's invasion plan. This is conveniently left out by Hitchens; that Blair has a long record of anti-democratic action.

It seems to me that the first two golden rules of morality are: - Treat others as you would like them to treat you - Two wrongs don't make a right

The war in Iraq ran completely contrary to both these moral imperatives.

We all know that political leaders must make decisions between shades of grey. No-one is pretending that the decision to support, or not support, the United States must have been nuanced.

Also, Blair did succeed with Charles Taylor - where the situation was a more obviously dark shade of grey.

But Blair allowed this early success to go to his head and committed to supporting George Bush Jr.'s war of vengeance for 9/11, when all other countries - very sensibly - urged calm.

Also, Hitchens makes two highly contentious claims: - That Blair is only hated for Iraq - That Blair could have won the 2010 General Election

These are complete nonsense.

I am obviously no fan of Blair, but I defy anyone to prove that Blair could have won the general election. He resigned precisely because his personal ratings were sinking so low that they were dragging down his party.

Those of us who had to live through the Blair years remember: - Labour kow-towing to foreign and extremely partisan right-wing media owners - Blair saying that that his three top priorities would be "education, education, education" (big clue). We now have an education system so devalued that British universities must run remedial classes to teach undergraduates things that previous generations learned at school. University vice-chancellors complain that undergraduates cannot handle tertiary studies because they don't know how to study, or lack application. Foreign universities turn down applications from British undergraduates because Labour re-invented level exams and they now lack rigour and depth. - A national debt of 1.1 trillion pounds - and growing - effectively meaning that Labour borrowed from the unborn. - Devolution without reference to the British people not living in devolved areas. - The changing of the House of Lords from a largely hereditary chamber into the Chamber of Sycophants, Unelectable Politicians and Trucklers, without referring the matter to voters - Huge amounts of money spent on the National Health Service (NHS) - which still fails to meet targets. An NHS that was so bad at meeting targets it had revised targets issued again ... and again ... and again (etc. ad nauseum). - A military that was so underfunded that soldiers, sailors and airmen died or now live as cripples. It was not enough that these people were prepared to put themselves in the line of fire - they and their families were insulted when insufficient or outdated equipment was routinely issued. - Local councils so devoid in capacity to address local concerns - from a lack of grit to keep winter roads open to Baby P dying while under the 'care' of social services. - The undermining of a pensions system that was once the envy of Europe. Alex Brummer's excellent book on this subject should be read by every British citizen over 30 - as this policy has a direct effect on all of them. - An implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights that undermines hundreds of years of case law and generates case after case of ludicrous decisions that hve nothing to do with justice

Believe me, I have more.

No politician leaves office with praise ringing in their ears. The medium term habit of most historians is to try to balance the public view of the politician immediately after leaving office with the knowledge of the emerging consequences of their administration. We have yet to reach that stage with Blair. When we do, I am confident that my view of him will be vindicated.

Anthony Blair's premiership, once the consequences of his actions are properly understood, will be that he was the most damaging Prime Minister of Britain in the history of that office.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 10:01:14 UTC | #576006

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 17 by Stafford Gordon

Apart from Blair's spineless duplicity apropos of WMD and their forty five minute deployment, the fact remains that the British Government was implicated in putting Saddam in place initially, in the full knowledge of his modi operandi and character.

It was known he was a psychopath, but he served to fill the breach in the bulwark preventing the USSR from gaining a foothold in oil rich West Asia; remember the USSR? Times change.

So I think a case can be put that since "The West" assisted in his gaining power in the first place, we carry the responsibility of removing him; if only the argument had been couched in those terms!

Read "Unholy Babylon" by Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander; chapter three "Iraq and the West" pin points Saddam's stratagy after the fall of the Shah of Iran.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 10:10:11 UTC | #576007

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 18 by debonnesnouvelles

Comment 11 by Michael Gray :

Read the final two paragraphs. Have a puke bag handy...

Sorry Michael, but you have not done, or you have not been true to your Hitch research. Everything you find on the net indicates that Christopher Hitchens was always a supporter of Tony Blair's position to back the Iraq invasion. It is totally understandable that people living in the UK have lots of reasons not to be thrilled about Christopher's backing of Tony Blair, and since this article has been posted here, we all have to let them make those points.

But to indicate that it is Christopher's state of health that would make him change his mind is preposterous. "Make no mistake..."

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 10:46:25 UTC | #576012

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 19 by SomersetJohn

Shakespear said it best, "The evil men do lives on whilst the good is oft interred in their bones,"

I hold Blair to be a contemptible little man with many things counting against him. I don't deny that he did some good things, and stood against some evil things, especially in the Balkans. But I'm convinced he will be remembered more for his own evil in Iraq than for any good he did elswhere.

I have no qualms in disagreeing with Hitchens on this issue. If I agreed with him on everything I would be no more than a (rather poor) clone of the man. And in his case I am reasonably sure he will be remembered far more for the good he has done than for his agreeing with the Iraq war.

I would pose this question, how much disagreement over the war would there have been if two conditions had been met.

  1. Sadman had been removed with surgical precision.

  2. An effective post-war strategy had been in place before the start of hostilities.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 11:11:39 UTC | #576016

rookieatheist's Avatar Comment 20 by rookieatheist

I'm re-posting the comment by Steve Zara because I think some people here have left their rational brains elsewhere and Steve's comment points that out quite clearly:

Comment 15 by Steve Zara :

If you believe that Hitchens is perfectly sound on just about everything but lets himself down when he disagrees with you, then that says more about you than it does about Hitchens.

You may disagree with Hitchens, but not with naive rhetoric along the lines of "the West has also killed many people, therefore the West is just as bad as the dictators/Islamic radicals". Such nonsense ignores the complexity of the issues at hand. To put things into perspective, one should contemplate the notion of the "perfect weapon", as put forward by Sam Harris.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 11:13:48 UTC | #576017

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 21 by AtheistEgbert

I do have sympathy for Blair, because unlike Bush, he is a man riddled with guilt and pain and doubts, that show all over his face and being. Blair has blood on his hands and does not understand that his attempts to 'redeem' his sins, is only making matters worse.

Saddam, like Stalin, were once allies for the west, when it suited us. We are as much to blame (as is the former USSR) for creating monsters around the world, as attempting to force them out of power with a kangaroo trial and kangaroo execution, and then impose our half-enlightened politics on barbarians.

We are half-barbarians, no mistake. We can't go around the world imposing our values when the very act of doing so is monstrous and violent, and then pretend we never did business with these people beforehand. That is a gross blind sighted view of history, and Christopher Hitchens should not continue spinning it otherwise.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 11:42:50 UTC | #576020

rookieatheist's Avatar Comment 22 by rookieatheist

Comment 23 by AtheistEgbert :

Saddam, like Stalin, were once allies for the west, when it suited us.

Saddam and Stalin would have existed and exerted their evil without any intervention from the West. Sometimes being an "ally" with a dictator is the first step in peacefully bringing down such regimes. Look at Iran, North Korea and Cuba. Do you think that the West's policies of alienating those countries has had a positive effect on the lives of people living in those countries? By not invading Cuba and N.Korea we certainly don't have blood on our hands, but that's not very comforting to each successive generation born in those countries. The West actively encourages interaction with Russia and China, and their respective peoples are the better off for it.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 12:03:30 UTC | #576022

Alex Burton's Avatar Comment 23 by Alex Burton

Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins :

I thoroughly agree with Comments 14 and 15.

Richard

Both of comments are using flawed logic - basically saying that if a person has argued successfully in the past (in this case with supreme elequence and reason) that any other opinions they might express demand less scrutiny. Essentially an argument from authority.

I would characterise reason as not a natural attribute of a person, more a fleeting attribute we can attain if we concentrate hard on a topic that is aligned with our interests. We all know how brilliant scientists can argue with razor logic, and then choose to ignore the evidence for climate change, and pray to a non existent deity on the weekend.

Reason is almost useless without evidence - about these wars a lot of which would be secret without Wikileaks.

The fact is that Wikileaks, by using a novel journalistic method, has shown the public a truer , more detailed, and verifiable historical account of the wars than all of the conventional journalists banging away on the telephone and keyboard, wining and dining with contacts etc.

As usual we see the press was fed a controlled stream of propaganda and filtered information. The wikileaks method of publishing a summary for public consumption and the source material means that accusations of bias and agendas beyond openness are readily checked.

Hitchens has articulated well his reasoning for supporting (at least the starting) of these wars - although I am uncomfortable with it I am not faulting it. As far as I see the argument is just conflating wikileaks with anti war protest - he may still present a rational case for his dislike of Wikileaks/Assange but I havent seen it yet.

The suggestion is that somehow we should all want to live in ignorance of what our governments have done and that attempting to gain an accurate historical insight with which to judge is automatically a statement that we think the Taliban / Hussein are no worse than our own governments. Even if we aren't worse that doesn't mean we can't drive our governments to do better.

Hitchens has a few reasons not to like Assange - who I think he has more effect than any other journalist with apparently less effort, and the evidence that his organisation has made available questions Hitchens judgement in supporting the wars.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 13:30:52 UTC | #576036

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 24 by Cook@Tahiti

Hitchens opposed the first Gulf War when most people were supporting it, likes to rubbish Clinton in front of Democrat-supporters, encourages British audiences to raise a toast to the US military that are defending them, and has also stated that he'd miss religion if it disappeared as there'd be no one to argue with. Perhaps he just likes taking the contrarian point of view for the thrill of it. It's almost predictable that he'd support Blair only because Blair is so despised. Perhaps if Blair were praised, Hitchens would take the opposite view.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 13:37:01 UTC | #576037

Tintern's Avatar Comment 25 by Tintern

"If you believe that Hitchens is perfectly sound on just about everything but lets himself down when he disagrees with you, then that says more about you than it does about Hitchens."

One is not a lesser person for disagreeing with someone and feeling they let themselves down when they normally earn your respect. Hitchens has clearly disappointed many here. And he should leave Assange alone; if real journalism existed in any influential shape or form anymore as part of our mainstream media he wouldn't be needed. As pointed out earlier he is not a criminal. Blair is, lying and cheating and bullying his country into war. There are many bad guys in the world much worse that Blair but Hitchens is guilty of excusing him far too easily here.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 13:43:41 UTC | #576038

root2squared's Avatar Comment 26 by root2squared

There is a moral pulse to be detected here, and it's quite a strong one.

That's not a moral pulse, he's just really happy to see a sycophantic supporter of his racist genocidal war.

It is very hard to find a lower form of the human species than Blair and his supporters. Even the pope, who I despise, is on a much higher moral ground than these two. At least he opposed the war and said it was a defeat for humanity.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:06:41 UTC | #576045

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 27 by DocWebster

I hear a lot of boohooing here because Hitch didn't follow the script we wrote in our minds for this article. Don't deny you did it either. You read "The Blair Hitch Project" and it was written by Hitch so you were settling in to read about what a tosser Blair is in Hitch's inimitable prose. As they say in football "That's why they play the game", you just don't know what is going to happen till it happens. It really hurts to have an idol think for themselves, doesn't it??

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:09:41 UTC | #576046

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 28 by debonnesnouvelles

Comment 25 by Alex Burton :

Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins :

I thoroughly agree with Comments 14 and 15.

Richard

Both of comments are using flawed logic - basically saying that if a person has argued successfully in the past (in this case with supreme elequence and reason) that any other opinions they might express demand less scrutiny. Essentially an argument from authority.

Alex, your statement is simply not true. It is not a question of less scrutiny towards the views of the person who's intellectual work one has previously valued. It is a question of being more critical of one's own gut reaction, in the light of the fact that one has been happy to agree with said authority in the past.

And I would like to add the following question: How exactly did most of the people on this discussion forum attain their knowledge and expertise of American and British foreign policy?

Before you disregard Hitchens' opinion openly like that, do what he did. Then you can give us your valued opinion.

Drawing false conclusions, even if one has gathered accurate evidence, is a pitfall that all of us human beings are capable of.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:10:43 UTC | #576047

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 29 by Stafford Gordon

26: Rtambree.

Yes, it had crossed my mind. I have an acquaintance who possesses that very characteristic.

However, I'm reliably informed that Tony Blair is charming in the extreme, so, perhaps Christopher Hitchens was/is smitten.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:14:58 UTC | #576049

scotsman2010's Avatar Comment 30 by scotsman2010

Comment 28 by root2squared :

That's not a moral pulse, he's just really happy to see a sycophantic supporter of his racist genocidal war.

Can anyone remember Hitch ever been called sycophantic before? Surely a first?

Whether you agree with him on this or not, I believe that term is totally inappropriate.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:20:14 UTC | #576050