Deconstructing the "Christopher Hitchens Principle"

by Bob Avakian

Revolutionary Worker #1185, February 2, 2003, posted at

It is important to take on the "Christopher Hitchens Principle."* This is a rationalization as ridiculous as it is reactionary, but it goes something like this: Anywhere the U.S. has "made a mess of things," by installing or at least backing tyrannical dictators, it is not only the right but the responsibility of the U.S. government to go in--to invade and occupy when necessary- -to "set things right"! And of course, the list of such places is very long indeed.

So, according to this "logic," all the U.S. has to do, to "earn the right" (and indeed have the responsibility) to invade, occupy, etc. is to fuck up a country--or help fuck it up--in the first place! It's really a neat game to play--except it's not a game, it brings death and destruction through war, and continuing agony in its aftermath, on a massive scale.

You back (and in some cases actually install) a Noriega, or a Hussein, for example, and then, if and when you determine that such a person/regime is no longer useful to you, or poses some kind of obstacle to you--or even just that going after and "getting" such a person/regime serves a useful purpose for you--you point to the horrible things such a person/regime has done (all of which you backed, or at least weren't bothered by before) and then you use that as a key part of the "justification" for why you have to pull a coup, and/or bomb, invade, occupy, to put an end to such a horrible person/regime.

And, again, so long as any regime is useful to you, you deny, downplay, or simply ignore the horrors it perpetrates, including "against its own people." So, for example, Hussein is a monstrous tyrant for what he did to the Kurds in Iraq, but "right next door," the regime in Turkey--which has carried out massacres and destruction in the Kurdish areas of that country, on a much more massive and long-term basis--is one of the "good guys" helping to fight the "evildoers." And the real evil that regime has done is rarely, if ever, mentioned, and certainly not presented in its true light and full dimension, by the U.S. imperialists and their media and mouthpieces. And that is not even to mention Israel--which, along with the many crimes and atrocities it has perpetrated against the Palestinian people, for more than five decades, continues to brazenly violate UN resolutions. But, of course, Israel is never threatened with military attack by U.S. imperialism; on the contrary, U.S. imperialism has provided, and continues to provide, the crucial backing, aid and arms to Israel in carrying all this out.

Not only is the "Hitchens" rationalization ludicrous and outrageous, there is a consistency to what the U.S. imperialists do (a consistent evil--to use their terminology more appropriately): where the U.S. government invades and occupies, it does not "set things right" and make things better, for the masses of people . It may perhaps alter some of the particular forms and "arrangements" through which the masses in this or that country are plundered and brutalized, but in no way does it bring "liberation," or contribute to the aim of actual liberation, but instead it fortifies and intensifies domination and exploitation serving the aims of U.S. imperialism.



* Christopher Hitchens is a British journalist who trades on his left credentials to argue for pro- imperialist politics. In the wake of 9/11, he has emerged as a defender of the U.S. government "war on terrorism," using his journalistic platform to launch unprincipled attacks on radical forces in the anti-war movement.

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