Hitch on Iraq Now

He's for the surge, whether it's working or not:

"It's precisely when it's going badly that the surge deserves support."

So we are required to support a military strategy regardless of its consequences? This does, I confess, seem to me to be the authentic Bush position at this point. But the decision to support something regardless of its effect, regardless of the criteria by which its architects urged it to be judged in the first place or only a couple of months ago, is a function not of judgment but of pure ideology. I agree with Hitch that we need to protect Kurdistan at all costs. I agree that we have serious enemies in Iraq that require tackling and preferably killing. But throwing more military tools at an internal Iraqi political crisis, risking American lives to support what Hitch calls a "sectarian thug" in Maliki, is not something we can continue regardless. Especially when Hitch concedes that the war is being run by a president who "doesn't have a clue."

In the middle of the interview, mercifully, Hitch offers a compromise: that we can leave once we have assured Kurdish autonomy and have smashed al Qaeda. But it seems to me that the good news from Anbar is that many Sunnis have already turned on al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has already suffered major defeats in public opinion in Anbar and (before that) Jordan. Why this happened and what role the surge played in helping it happen is an interesting question. But it has happened. Which means withdrawal is now an option even on Hitch's terms - as long as we maintain a presence in Kurdistan and Anbar remains opposed to al Qaeda. So it seems to me that Hitch favors withdrawal in the near future. He also concedes that his biggest mistake was assuming minimal competence in the Bush administration. I made that mistake too. And he says something that I've also been forced painfully to acknowledge: that "corners were cut" in presenting the case for war against Saddam. Bush decided to scare rather than educate people about the Islamist threat, in all its complexity and lethality. That remains his unforgivable sin. He's still doing it, with his moronic, condescending rhetoric on the surge. Anyway, here's the Hoover clip. See for yourself.