Video: The Hitchens boys joust over whether Britain should stay in Afghanistan

posted at 7:07 pm on June 27, 2007 by Allahpundit

More from “Question Time.” Peter’s the conservative and Christopher the liberal, as you know, but if you didn’t you’d be forgiven for being confused after watching this. Note the latter’s point about Iraq and Afghanistan being good practice for western militaries in waging war against jihadist forces. He makes it apologetically, anticipating the flak he’ll take for reducing such terrible conflicts to de facto training exercises, but that’s a dodge anyway. The real objection the left has to it is that it promises more war to come — a long war. Peter bristles at that idea. Would that it were up to us.

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You gotta love paleoconservatives.

You’d think they’d have learnt something from the folly of pre-World War II isolationism.

Damian G. on June 27, 2007 at 7:15 PM

This war is going to continue whether we want it to or not. Is the current strategy of waging it the best one? I think the obvious answer to that is no. But it needs to be waged, whether people want to admit it or not.

BadgerHawk on June 27, 2007 at 7:34 PM

Yeah, the Jihadis aren’t gonna stop for anyone. They’re a product of a failed civilization, and failed civilizations go nova. They explode outward in a last ditch effort to save themselves. That’s what we’re facing, contain the explosion or be swallowed by it.

Bad Candy on June 27, 2007 at 7:47 PM

This is the same argument advanced by Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald and they aren’t paleoconservatives. Sharia law shouldn’t have been mentioned in the Afghan constitution. Should British troops stay? Yes but the US/UK should insist on no sharia, no way no how.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 7:48 PM

That would be Peter Hitchen’s argument which I should have said in the above post.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 7:49 PM

Britain’s liberals are far more eloquent in their points than a majority of our Dems here in States. They sound more moderate than anything coming out of San Fran Nan.

I have come to point that it comes down to one thing. He who last the longest in this war wins. The enemy knows this and the last few years and the implosion of political discourse in the states gives me grave pessimism. Americans are used to quick easy resolve and this war is anything but. Bush in office or Clinton, their war machine has more will power and no time tables. As we step down, they will gear up. The problem is that some of the American public has been fooled that all of this will go away if a Dem is put into office. Chris Hitchens is right – our actions are just preventive (and some offense) in to cascading into madness. Remove that and be prepared for pre-911 mentality and recourse. This talk of our casualties now in this war is in no way going to compare what the enemy has planned. They are fighting us and we are fighting ourselves. Guess what that means – sides win.

Jiggity on June 27, 2007 at 7:54 PM

Any place you can kill jihadis is a good place.

But do it better, harder, smarter and more.

We’re not fighting for their freedom, but ours.

They get the benefit of our fight.

Do they appreciate it is the question.

Can any Muslim appreciate anything done by an inferior infidel dog?

Answer: kill more jihadis.

profitsbeard on June 27, 2007 at 7:55 PM

Particularly unrealistic is the questioner who remarked that British casualties were unsustainable, given that the UK has lost only 61 dead (35 of those KIA) and 120 injured over 5.5 years, in a national population of 60.8 million.

BillINDC on June 27, 2007 at 7:57 PM

I like the way Hitch lays this out. He always by bringing his detail, addresses the paradox of the war as I see it: Carry on your lives in the face of terrorism (ie Bush’s post- 9/11 speech, where he says go back to living life) and the complete inadequate information that causes the average person to conclude that the war isn’t going well, and is, essentially just dragging on without progress or death to the enemies.

Spirit of 1776 on June 27, 2007 at 7:58 PM

Per usual, profitsbeard asked (rhetorically):

Can any Muslim appreciate anything done by an inferior infidel dog?

Answer: yes.

BillINDC on June 27, 2007 at 8:00 PM

I have come to point that it comes down to one thing. He who last the longest in this war wins.

Cha-ching. Didn’t one of the Taliban leaders talk about how we love Pepsi and they love death? These guys will fight until the end of time. We need to stop making strategic decisions based on the election cycle and get in this thing for the long hail. This fight is going to take decades.

BadgerHawk on June 27, 2007 at 8:03 PM

Particularly unrealistic is the questioner who remarked that British casualties were unsustainable, given that the UK has lost only 61 dead (35 of those KIA) and 120 injured over 5.5 years, in a national population of 60.8 million.
BillINDC on June 27, 2007 at 7:57 PM

Also the idea that professional soldiers don’t want to spend thier whole career in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since when does a professional soldier expect to sit behind a desk in thier home city?

Resolute on June 27, 2007 at 8:05 PM

Well I certainly would not attribute the noble eloquence and biting logic of C Hitchens to all of Britain’s liberals, many of whom I have heard declare the most sickening and ignoble assertions imaginable.

But it is equally painful to know that so many of the very same “conservatives” that we are fighting in the Senate even as we speak share the isolationist, scotch and cigars conservatism as Peter Hitchens.

Jaibones on June 27, 2007 at 8:06 PM

Bill,

Great point.

Liberal View:
War is bad. Casualties are very bad in war because war is bad.

Radical Islamic Jihad view:
Death is great. Kill and kill yourself because war is great. We will always be at war with Infidels.

Conservative View:
You kill us – we kill you. Stop killing us and we stop killing you.

Leftist view:
Don’t worry about those Radical Islamic Jihadis, can we please make sure that Gays can marry the same sex? Oh yeah, Bush sucks! Make sure you buy your carbon offsets!

Jiggity on June 27, 2007 at 8:07 PM

Also illogical – beyond the nation-building aspect of Aghanistan, which paleocons naturally dislike and liberals situationally dislike (depending on domestic politics), the mission there is an essential launching pad to merely kill jihadis.

Even many domestic liberals recognize (at least superficially) the tactical necessity of killing radicals in that portion of the world.

BillINDC on June 27, 2007 at 8:13 PM

These discussions are long over due. No timetables, please. I think it will probably still be a long war, possibly less bloody now going forward than it might have been had we not started when we did. A lot has been learned about what to do (and not do) these past few years.

Bacchus on June 27, 2007 at 8:13 PM

I have come to point that it comes down to one thing. He who last the longest in this war wins.

Remember the motto of the RAF “He who dares wins.” This is why Bush will not be vindicated like Reagan as he hinted shortly after Reagan’s funeral. If we could’ve had Bush circa 2002 for the last five years the man would be a legend and the mullahs would be ancient history.

Didn’t one of the Taliban leaders talk about how we love Pepsi and they love death?

Yes but as Robert said on Sunday this is 1,300 year old slogan. They’ve lost to plenty of foes who didn’t love death.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 8:21 PM

Also illogical – beyond the nation-building aspect of Aghanistan, which paleocons naturally dislike and liberals situationally dislike (depending on domestic politics), the mission there is an essential launching pad to merely kill jihadis.

I agree to a large extent – if troops are killing members of al-Qaeda that saves lives. However if there is no or very little effort to fight this ideologically then ultimately its not a solution. Bush said this was an ideological war and then made no significant effort to fight it ideologically as well as militarily.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 8:26 PM

Chris Hitchens’ logic and intellect are pristine examples of pure awesomeness!

TheSitRep on June 27, 2007 at 8:28 PM

BillINDC on June 27, 2007 at 8:13 PM

Damn, 2 great points back to back. You own this thread.

BadgerHawk on June 27, 2007 at 8:37 PM

Chris Hitchens’ logic and intellect are pristine examples of pure awesomeness!

He’s the guy who disproves the rule about liberals. They are not all wrong.

I’m going to go wash my mouth out with soap now.

unamused on June 27, 2007 at 8:43 PM

I had heard about Christopher’s brother who was said to have been pretending to be Conservative, while CH is pretending to be liberal. Well, it certainly seems to be a bit of a sticky wickett and altho I agreed with CH, (formerly my favorite journalist until Mark Steyn appeared), I have seen his far left side and it ain’t pretty. (One example: he defended the murder of Terri Schiavo by the cruelest of means).
Blimey, I even write in a British style when I describe the Hitch.

Christine on June 27, 2007 at 8:43 PM

Sharia law shouldn’t have been mentioned in the Afghan constitution. Should British troops stay? Yes but the US/UK should insist on no sharia, no way no how.

If their sharia law is subordinate to the laws of the land, then I don’t see a problem. Anyone? Sharia law simply will not, and cannot, be the same oppressive laws of the Taliban era.

Right now, we have immigrants who are still thinking in terms of honor killings. They have to learn, or be taught, that it’s not allowed. It’s against the law. The imams must be made to respect the laws of the land too, and to preach accordingly. Unquestionably.

Bacchus on June 27, 2007 at 8:45 PM

Christopher Hitchens the liberal
Well damn he’s the only Lib that makes any since.

American8298 on June 27, 2007 at 8:50 PM

I’m beginning to be a real fan of Christopher. We’re left with only two choices. Allow radical islam to breed like the cancer it is, or destroy it. I’m in favor of a nuclear solution.

Radical solution to a radical problem.

Kini on June 27, 2007 at 8:54 PM

If their sharia law is subordinate to the laws of the land, then I don’t see a problem. Anyone? Sharia law simply will not, and cannot, be the same oppressive laws of the Taliban era.

I see your point but I worry that if sharia law is given even a cermonial role in Afghan society it could influence its citizens to carry out terrible deeds.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 8:54 PM

The military solution to radical islam is not intellectually defensible unless the West is prepared to kill a significant portion of the population. That is not on the table in either argument seen here.

Radical islam, therefore, can not be vanquished by staying in Iraq and Afghanistan and killing the odd islamist, as we are doing now, and as C Hitchens advocates. Those people have a birth rate several times our birth rate. Mathematically, this approach fails for demographic reasons. It will achieve nothing in the long term.

The fact remains that radical islam does not need Afghanistan or Iraq. The armed radicals show up there only because power vacuums were created there, not because those two geographical areas are fundamental battlegrounds or mean anything in the war on islam. Radical islam stems from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, purportedly our allies, but in reality the vectors of this disease. It would behoove us to use military force to topple those governments, much more so than patrolling the backwaters of Afghanistan.

The salient point is that while it can’t hurt to stay there for 30 years and play whack-a-mole, it certainly will not address the source of the infestation, or the seriousness of the pathogen.

jihadwatcher on June 27, 2007 at 9:06 PM

It is a sad fact that the enemies we fight adhere to a mentality that is over a thousand years old, and yet the politicians of the west (Brit and Yank) seem to believe that our enemies, like us, hold elections every so many years to digress from an original battle plan.

It is genuinely regrettable that Brit and Yank soldiers are killed and wounded on a regular basis, but our enemies do not take account of such inflictions upon their forces. This is why I believe that, 2 years or 50 years, if we are to defeat our enemies, we must consider very long term goals over what might get our politicos re-elected next term.

Sad fact. History bears me out.

thejackal on June 27, 2007 at 9:07 PM

Interesting comments from jihadwatcher and thejackal. I remember years ago reading an article by some snotty liberal saying oh well maybe if we translated the The Federalist Papers into arabic and sent to Bin Laden he’d call off his jihad. Har de har har. The fact is the rate of books translated into arabic falls behind that of any culture in the world. When Caliph Omar invaded Alexandira (Eygpt) he had all Latin works set on fire. A few months ago I read that Mubarak intervened in a book fair to censor improper works – the arabic translation of Mein Kampf was allowed but the novels of Milan Kundera were removed. Notice a pattern? Our politicans are great when it comes to talking about the information economy but the they cannot fathom the idea of an information war. I think The Federalist Papers and other landmark texts conerning freedom should be translated into Arabic and smuggled into the Middle East. If Bush inists this is an ideological war then he should fight it like one.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 9:26 PM

I was weaned on British and American history.
Christopher seems more like Churchill; Peter like Chamberlain.
As Dame Thatcher has observed, Britain has an international fraternal commitment to democracy with America.
Blair confirmed it.
Randy

williars on June 27, 2007 at 9:44 PM

Christopher seems more like Churchill; Peter like Chamberlain.

Yeah but this conflict isn’t similar to World War II. It’s more like the Cold War which was won economically and ideologically. Cutting off the Saudis oil revenue and bringing Muslims into the modern world should be the objective. It won’t be as glamorous as the Battle of Britian or the naval battle in the Pacific but that’s how it stands.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 9:51 PM

As Maha Rushie points out on a regular basis… “This is a world goverened by the use of aggressive force.”

When I first heard him say that I was struck by simplicity of that statement. I have yet to hear anyone else speak one sentence that so encapsulates humanity.

VolMagic on June 27, 2007 at 10:15 PM

Gotta disagree a bit, aengus.

This seems like Nazi-redux to me: The Islamo-fascists believe that non-Muslims need to convert, submit, or die(sic). The legacy of their faith is already a terrible thing….Not a “Cold War” at all.

I agree that we can defeat them economically and ideologically, but not unless we can defeat them militarily. ;)

Saudi oil revenue is not a cause of this dire conflict, but

cutting off

the revenue would be.

Lastly, I am uncomfortable with objectives that call for

bringing Muslims into the modern world

. That’s an invitation to unhealthy stereotypes, imho.
Randy

williars on June 27, 2007 at 10:29 PM

Gotta disagree a bit, aengus.

This seems like Nazi-redux to me: The Islamo-fascists believe that non-Muslims need to convert, submit, or die(sic). The legacy of their faith is already a terrible thing….Not a “Cold War” at all.

I agree that we can defeat them economically and ideologically, but not unless we can defeat them militarily. ;)

Saudi oil revenue is not a cause of this dire conflict, but “cutting off ” the revenue would be.

Lastly, I am uncomfortable with objectives that call for “bringing Muslims into the modern world”.
That’s an invitation to unhealthy stereotypes, imho.
Randy

williars on June 27, 2007 at 10:35 PM

Oh dear. Sorry.
Randy

williars on June 27, 2007 at 10:36 PM

Gotta disagree a bit, aengus.

This seems like Nazi-redux to me: The Islamo-fascists believe that non-Muslims need to convert, submit, or die(sic). The legacy of their faith is already a terrible thing….Not a “Cold War” at all.

I agree that we can defeat them economically and ideologically, but not unless we can defeat them militarily. ;)

You misunderstood me a bit. I have always advocated the military defeat of the Islamists. I’m simply advocaging a parallel economic and ideological effort to sustain it.

The “Cold War” involved plenty of military conflicts (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Grenada) but could not have been won by military means alone. A twin-track strategy of military intervention and ideological assault is needed. Jimmy Carter failed in both these aims whereas Ronald Reagan Reagan succeded in both these aims.

You’re right that it’s Nazi-Redux but there’s a reason for that. After WWII the Germans were De-Nazified and the Japanese were detoxified of their belief in their sun god (or whatever the hell it was). The muslims who fought on behalf of the Axis powers (Bosnian, Bakhori, “Palestinian”) weren’t considered important at the time.

My point its that the deprogramming of fascists that was conducted after 1945 – which overlooked the muslim element of the Axis – should be attempted beforehand to prevent a war in which millions of people die.

aengus on June 27, 2007 at 11:54 PM

Saudi oil revenue is not a cause of this dire conflict, but “cutting off” the revenue would be.

Saudi oil funds this dire conflict and while cutting off their profits would have a dismal effect on their economy I would not be sad. Two reasons off the top of my head: 1) the majority of the Saudi electorate would be in the exact same position they are now as the oil wealth is doled out to jihadists and Saudi princes 2) I, my family and every commenter on this site would be less likely to die in a terrorist attack.

Lastly, I am uncomfortable with objectives that call for “bringing Muslims into the modern world”.
That’s an invitation to unhealthy stereotypes, imho.

Oh I’m terribly sorry. The next time I’m talking to one of my jihadist friends I’ll plead with them not to release a beheading video because I don’t want them to propagate negative sterotypes of muslims. That wouldn’t do.

aengus on June 28, 2007 at 12:04 AM

How refreshing it is to hear an intelligent a civilized debate on the war in Afhanistan and Iraq. We need to see more of these.

Helloyawl on June 28, 2007 at 2:57 AM

Isolationism, which I agree with as a paleoconservative, was no choice in Afghanistan – just as with World War 2.

If you are being attacked very clearly, as was 9/11, you have no choice but to repsond with war, the terrorists after all had already declared it! Other NATO nations should ofcourse help out, I have no respect for any nation which isn’t helping in Afghanistan.

Iraq was ofcourse different, no attack was actually made, no weapons were really found, Saddam was more of a threat to his own people than the West and I don’t believe that is worth any sacrifice by us, we can’t go into every nation with a cruel leader – we’d be in Cuba, Venuzeula, North Korea, Darfur, Zimbabwe, not possible.

Just to add this is from a Brit.

GBCrane on June 28, 2007 at 5:14 AM

Christopher Hitchens is a philosophical conservative. He is liberal by no stretch of the imagination. He is an atheist, which creates confusion for some, as a preponderence of atheists are liberal, with a minority who are libertarian, and a simple handful who identify as conservative.

CH understands that people who tell you they are your enemy, and who wave weapons at you, must be dealt with three ways: Swiftly, harshly, and thoroughly. Anything less is a tacit allowance for them to attack you first.

PH is brilliant in his own way, but drinks the socialist Koolaid on the topic of war, believing that we can get the bad guys to quit fighting by not fighting ourselves.

It’s awful to hear a member of the Hitchens family sounding like Harold Pinter on a bad day.

- Christopher’s response to Peter’s initial answer of the question. Read the Pinter speech at the link for the full effect of Hitch’s zinger on his little bro.

Freelancer on June 28, 2007 at 5:24 AM

Dude, don’t crap on Harold Pinter. Have you read The Birthday Party? Pinter is a genius.

cardindex7 on June 28, 2007 at 4:14 PM

That said, he’s no Ibsen.

cardindex7 on June 28, 2007 at 4:14 PM

Pinter has a grand grammatical style. The moment he makes a foray into political thought, he’s a babbling idiot.

Freelancer on June 28, 2007 at 4:23 PM

I have just two questions for Peter Hitchens and all his kind around the world.

If the Taliban was as bad as we know it was to the general Afghan population before the Brits and us got there, what the hell does he think they’re gonna treat them like if we were to leave and the Taliban is left to their own devices – again?

Secondly, in order to be the imperialist powers that Hitchens ‘the unwiser’ says we and the Brits are, then doesn’t it stand to reason that Afghanistan would actually have to have something for us to rule or something for us to loot it of?

Teddy on June 28, 2007 at 9:05 PM