Of course, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard Christopher Hitchens died yesterday of esophageal cancer was his articulate and resolute support for the liberation of Iraq.
He was one of the few real liberals in America’s debate over freeing 25 million Iraqis from fascism. Others who claimed to be liberals -- defenders of the defenseless -- only pretended to understand the horrors of oppression. They cynically opposed the hard and heroic work of freeing Iraq’s oppressed.
Hitchens, who felt a personal stake because of his friendships with Iraq’s Kurds, knew what his old allies on “the left” did not know -- that Iraq was condemned to generations of ignorance, tyranny and war unless it was freed by outside powers committed to democracy.
The Iraqis probably would remove Saddam (or his sons) on their own, he said, but the bloodbath of that kind of civil war would make the recent Iraq War look like a skirmish. And without America’s guiding hand, he said, the winner of that war almost certainly would have been another tyrant.
The bitter argument over the Iraq War tested Hitchens’ relationship with “the left,” leaving him disgusted with Democrats who wanted to tolerate Saddam’s despotism simply because a Republican president wouldn't tolerate it. But President Bush’s resolve also reminded him of America’s indispensable role in a world still half-unfree.
America’s unselfish project in Iraq eventually inspired Hitchens to become a U.S. citizen. For a full decade, he was the world's most passionate voice for freedom. He was a true liberal. He was the best kind of American.
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See also: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens.
See also: An atheist Christmas remembrance.
See also: Master of the contrarian essay.
See also: On the death of Christopher Hitchens.