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A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq Paperback – June 3, 2003
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Hitchens puts together a very strong argument for the initial invasion. That Saddam was clearly an evil man, the last of the petty fuhrers, an unstable centre in a middle east where Afghanistan was being reintegrated into the modern world.
It was only during The Surge that I started to understand the reasons why Saddam had to fall. Given the historical errors that had been made up to then it was a dramatic conversion based, largely, on this book and related information.
After the surge Al-Qaeda was defeated. Iraq was relatively peaceful and governed, even if poorly. We had arrived at a point where the future middle east could be build free of a fascistic, bloodthirsty distraction. Sadly, the gains of the surge were lost once the USA abandoned Iraq and the rest is history.
Hitchens is a crafty, skilled, invidious flack for the neocon minority that regards war as the solution for any problem produced by the collision of two or more ideas. He prides himself as a contrarian, an ironic self-title that mocks the opposition of those who recognize the civil war in Iraq as Bush's greatest folly. The book is an astute selection of 'Slate' online columns written prior to the invasion, his "facts" are a first-class example of what is known in the news business as "press release journalism".
As such, it is a concise summary of the folly -- some would say wisdom -- that inveigled Americans into a "perfect" war that avoids the horrendous toll of the Vietnam. But, it's just enough to maintain constant uncertainty, unease and doubts which Bush uses adroitly "to avoid changing horses (i.e. commander-in-chief') in midstream" but not enough to bring about his own defeat. Few wars are so good they last indefinitely without fatal results; but, Hitchens proves once and for all that it's possible to fool enough of the people enough of the time to win enough of the votes. The neocons couldn't be happier, more smug, more self-satisfied or more pleased with Hitchens.
Perhaps the most telling metaphor for the book is the cover photo showing US forces pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein; to this day, Americans are still expected to do everything for the Iraqis. It's why more than 3,000 US civilians and military personnel have died since the "Mission Accomplished" boast. It shows why newspapers are still far more trustworthy than hired flacks. At least Colin Powell had the decency to admit he was duped; Hitchens has a habit of hiding from his mistakes, which may be why he hasn't come up with a sequel about "peace, prosperity and progress in the Garden of Eden (Iraq)".
Hitchens is a usually arrogant contrarian with a distaste for most elements of American-style democratic chaos; but, he can also be a fawning lap-dog for utterly ridiculous ideas as this book illustrates. Anyone who loves the American role in Iraq's civil war will find it is a useful and inspiring gospel; those who oppose folly will appreciate the ease with which some people can be thrown, tied and branded.
Today it's perhaps even more significant than in 2003, when Hitchens bought hook, line and sinker into the "let's have a nice little war" scenario. America now has its "long short war". Now, ominously, a similar drumbeat is starting faintly for a war against Iran; perhaps Hitchens will volunteer again to be a spokesman for why Americans should die in another MidEast land.
All in all, a wonderful book by a brilliant author whose penchant for irrascibility instead of reason results in razzle-dazzle raves for cowboy politics instead of the rational ideas of the Clinton years. Journalism used to reflect the idea, "Question everything: If your mother says she loves you, check it out." Hitchens has turned it around to mean, "Accept everything, if Bush says "war" just reply "Ready, aye, ready!"
Most recent customer reviews
Hitchens is a more than acceptable writer, but this thing is as out of date as Windows 95.Read more
It's a shame that such an incisive, and normally clear headed journalist and critic could have been so wrong about the war in...Read more