January 27, 2011

Christopher Hitchens Excerpts

From Hitch-22:
I noticed that all my poet and novelist friends possessed at the very least some musical capacity: they could either play a little or could give a decent description of a musical event. Could it be this that marked them off from the mere essayist? I hit one iceberg-size objection right away. Vladimir Nabokov, perhaps the man of all men who could make one feel embarrassed to be employing the same language (English being only his third), detested music: “Music, I regret to say, affects me merely as an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds… The concert piano and all wind instruments bore me in smaller doses and flay me in larger ones.” Ah, but that needn’t mean he wasn’t musical.

* * *

if Saddam Hussein could have been so crazy as to go for broke, and to steal all of Kuwait when he could have had a lucrative chunk of it for the asking, why then he might be such a deranged megalomaniac that he could no longer discern even his own interests.)

* * *

The idea of “Reds for Bush” might seem incongruous, but it was a very great deal more wholesome than “pacifists for Saddam.”

* * *

From time to time I would be asked to sign a petition against the sanctions, which were said to be killing tens of thousands of young and old Iraqis by the denial of medical supplies and food. I couldn’t bring myself to be persuaded by this pseudo-humanitarianism. In the same period, Saddam had built himself a new palace in each of Iraq’s eighteen provinces, while products like infant formula—actually provided to Iraq under the oil-for-food program—were turning up on the black market being sold by Iraqi government agents. More and more, it seemed to me, anyone who really cared for the well-being and survival of Iraqis should be arguing for the removal of the insane despotism that had necessitated the sanctions and that was eating the country alive.

* * *

Anyone who heard an Iraqi radio or television broadcast in the last decade of the regime can readily confirm that the insistent themes were those of “martyrdom” and holy war.

* * *

I think of it whenever I hear some fool say, “All right, we agree that Saddam was a bad guy.” Nobody capable of uttering that commonplace has any conception of radical evil.

* * *

I probably now know more about the impeachable incompetence of the Bush administration than do many of those who would have left Iraq in the hands of Saddam.

* * *

The “WMD” question, as everybody hopes now to forget, was very often a rhetorical tool in the hands of those who wanted to leave Saddam Hussein in power. Attack him, and he would unleash the weapons of horror that he had wielded so promiscuously before.

* * *

Constantine, in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, confesses that, yes: “For the sake of my country, and perhaps a little for the sake of my soul, I have given up the deep peace of being in opposition.”

* * *

I saw all the members of the press corps donning gas masks and running to the shelters to avoid the shower of chemical weapons, gases, and nerve-agents which never turned up—and in which they later claimed never to have believed.

No comments: