Aggregating Skeptical Thought

Hitchens and Iraq

Christopher Hitchens has written an article, Fighting the “Real” Fight, over at regarding the “foolish myths about Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia”. Mr. Hitchens is an incredibly smart man unfortunately he still holds on to this foolish belief in the validity of the War in Iraq.

I can’t help but cringe when I read this article. Maybe I don’t understand the issues the way he does but some of his arguments seem to confirm what he is trying to deny and either way I have to wonder who the hair-splitters really are. He complains of

“hair-splitting secularists who cannot accept that al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is a branch of al-Qaida itself.”

Umm… Ok. He continues with the following of which I definitely subscribe to #2 and #1 is arguable.

Objections to this self-evident fact take one of two forms. It is argued, first, that there was no such organization before the coalition intervention in Iraq. It is argued, second, that the character of the gang itself is somewhat autonomous from, and even independent of, the original group proclaimed by Osama Bin Laden.

He spends a considerable amount of the time talking about Al-Zarqawi (the recently deceased leader of al-Qaida in Iraq). He attempts to discredit the #1 argument above by explaining that after our intervention in Afghanistan, Al-Zarqawi fled to Iraq and then was granted the “local al-Qaida franchise” by Bin Laden/Zawahiri. I don’t mean to be a hair-splitter here but if your argument was that al-Qaida existed in Iraq prior to our invasion I wouldn’t try to explain your argument without out at least… um… some actual dates. Nowhere in the article does he give any dates just a story.

You could lay this story out in two ways but without dates we have no idea which is correct. The scenario descibed by Hitchens could be laid out to confirm or refute his own argument.

#1) We invade Afghanistan
#2) Al-Zarqawi flees to Iraq
#3) Al-Qaida franchise granted to Al-Zarqawi
#4) We invade Iraq

#1) We invade Afghanistan
#2) Al-Zarqawi flees to Iraq
#3) We invade Iraq
#4) Al-Qaida franchise granted to Al-Zarqawi

I suggest you re-read his article and tell me why I can’t refute his own argument with his own story. I understand that the purpose of this article is not to be a full dissertation on the Iraq War and that he is attempting to address certain criticisms of this war but I think the bigger question should be, “Were we morally justified in attacking Iraq?” and more pressing, “How do we end the suffering and death and bring peace back to the region?”

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