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December 5, 2003
Christopher Hitchens Scolds the Anti-War Left

Christopher Hitchens, a liberal in the classic sense, has been a supporter of the war on terror and the Iraq war all along. As he has done during the run-up and aftermath of the war, Hitchens takes the left to task for its obtuseness:

The truly annoying thing that I find when I am arguing with opponents of the regime-change policy in Iraq is their dogged literal-mindedness. "Your side said that coalition troops would be greeted with 'sweets and flowers!' " Well, I have seen them with my own eyes being ecstatically welcomed in several places. "But were there actual sweets and flowers?"

Literal interpretations of predictions seem to be a one-way street, as Hitchens notes in his closing:

There were predictions made by the peaceniks, too, that haven't come literally true, or true at all. There has been no refugee exodus, for example, of the kind they promised. No humanitarian meltdown, either. No mass civilian casualties. All of these things would of course come to pass, and right away, if the Iraqi "resistance" succeeded in sabotaging the coalition presence. But I refuse to believe that any antiwar person is so keen on vindication as to wish for anything like that.

Hitchens gives a couple of other instances of hair-splitting like these, and then delves into the meaning of the Iraq-North Korea connection that surfaced after American intelligence started reviewing computers captured in the Iraq war:

Now downloaded hard drives from Iraqi government computers, plus interviews with Iraq officials and scientists, have established that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy Rodong missiles from Pyongyang and was hoping to purchase the rights to the North Korean production line. The significance of this is obvious enough: The Rodong missile has a range much greater than that prohibited to Iraq by the U.N. resolutions. It also makes sense: North Korea is bankrupt and starving and exports only weapons and drugs while Saddam's Iraq had plenty of spare off-the-record cash in American dollars.

This clearly shows that Saddam Hussein had no intention of complying with UNSC resolutions and was busily violating them right up to the time we invaded. While his previous SCUD system could reach Israel, as we all saw in 1991, the Rodong would be able to reach American military bases throughout Asia Minor. Clearly, had we all sat on our hands and waited for the "inspections" regime to complete its task -- completion never being defined -- Saddam would have acquired missiles with enough range to seriously threaten our ability to contain him. Instead of 300 battle casualties and another 200 post-combat casualties, the first salvos of the war that would have inevitably followed would have likely killed several times that number, and possibly large parts of Israel at the same time, even if they were only armed with conventional warheads.

That difference is one of the very good reasons that we needed to resolve the considerable and gathering threat on our presence in the Middle East in order to fully prosecute the war on terror, even if you discount everything you read in the Feith memo. Waiting around for Saddam to completely rearm himself would have led to a repeat of 1939-41 Europe. Appeasing only emboldens dictators, and ignoring repeated treaty violations in order to have the madmen throw the first punch risks getting yourself knocked out -- especially with the chemical and biological weapons that Saddam had and used in the past. (Thanks to Hugh Hewitt.)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 5, 2003 1:34 PM

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