9/11 Changed Everything, Christopher Hitchens Edition


From litmag N + 1's website, a look at what Christopher Hitchens thought about U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East back in the early 1990s. Interesting stuff, and yes, to my mind, a more sensible take on the matter than Hitchens was pushing so fiercely in the past decade:

 In search of trademark provocations from the early Hitch, I took down two vintage collections, Prepared for the Worst and For the Sake of Argument. Pay dirt, immediately. The latter book fell open to a 1991 discussion of the Middle East on the eve of the first Gulf War:

Today, the tilt is toward Saudi Arabia. A huge net of bases and garrisons has been thrown over the Kingdom of Saud, with a bonanza in military sales and a windfall (for some) to accompany  it. This tilt, too, has its destabilizing potential. But the tilt also has its compensations, not the least being that the Realpoliticians might still get to call the global shots from Washington. Having taken the diplomatic lead, engineered the UN Security Council resolutions, pressured the Saudis to let in foreign troops, committed the bulk of these troops, and established itself as the only credible source of Intelligence and interpretation of Iraqi plans and mood, the Bush administration publicly hailed a new multilateralism. Privately, Washington's Realpols gloated: We were the superpower—Deutschmarks and yen be damned.

Generally, it must be said that Realpolitik has been better at dividing than at ruling. Take it as a whole since Kissinger called on the Shah in 1972, and see what the harvest has been. . . . [T]he forces of secularism, democracy and reform have been dealt appalling blows. And all these crimes and blunders will necessitate future wars. That is what US policy has done, or helped to do, to the region. What has the same policy done to America? A review of the Pike Commission, the Iran-Contra hearings, even the Tower Report and September's perfunctory House inquiry into the Baker-Kelly-Glaspie fiasco, will disclose the damage done by official lying, by hostage-trading, by covert arms sales, by the culture of secrecy, and by the habit of including foreign despots in meetings and decisions that are kept secret from American citizens. By Election Day the Gulf build-up had brought about the renewal of a moribund consensus on national security, the disappearance of the bruited "peace dividend" ("If you're looking for it," one Pentagon official told a reporter this past fall, "it just left for Saudi Arabia"), and the re-establishment of the red alert as the preferred device for communicating between Washington and the people.