Open Letter to Chris Hitchens

Jack McCarthy wrote this Open letter to Christopher Hitchens on

Hitchens, you fucking fat-assed drunken slut.

You lying sack of shit.

Sir, have you no sense of personal integrity whatsoever?

Mother Theresa might have been in the "Missionary Position," but you are taking it every which way from people who make poor old Charles Keating look like Kris Kringle.

But I digress--already.

I just read your latest, self-serving Orwellian rewriting and distortion of recent history published in last Sunday's Washington Post, "So Long, Fellow Travelers."

First observation: It appears to be modeled on David Horowitz's and Peter Collier's treacherous, "Lefties for Reagan," published in the early 80s on those same pages. And for good reason.

Like those two self-serving jackals you aren't promoting a future war on Iraq--and the Left-- for any real principle other than personal gain.

Like Horowitz and Collier you are using the Left--and even more pathetically--the people of Iraq to justify the selling of your most pitiable soul.

Your dishonest posturing here is not only contrary to the spirit of the Orwell of your alcohol tinged imagination, its an abomination worthy of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden.

But let's get to the nub of the issue fat boy. Like another windy fat ass, Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh, you are a big fat liar.

After 20 years as a columnist for The Nation, rather than thank the readers who have read and supported you over the years, you made the most graceless exit from an uncomfortable scene since Adolph and Eva.

Rather than say a few words about your tenure at The Nation, in one short paragraph you all but pulled your pants down, stuck your fat ass in the face of your many readers and said: "I'm out of here."

Adding insult to injury you claimed you were leaving because you had just discovered that the editors of "The Nation" were taking sides in the Iraq debate. Are you nuts? Do you for one minute think anyone believed such tripe?

Perhaps you think your readers also wake up swigging Johnny Walker? What a joke. What an insult to your reader's intelligence. Were you serious? Or just drunk again?

But I digress. Let us return to your silly, sorry posturing on Iraq and the Left in the Sunday Washington post. Boy, you must have been sloshed when you wrote this. I mean this is pink elephant shit.

Linking all the Left with the Workers World Party was a piece of sly, red-baiting propaganda worthy of Orwell's worst nightmare.

What a foul act you are. "A right wing porker," indeed Alex.

Your lowest moment, however, was when you solemenly declared at the end of this abominable paean to your fat-assed self-- that once Iraq was liberated you would go to Baghdad to apologize to old "comrades" for the actions of the Left.

Tsk, tsk. I mean didn't it occur to you there was a paper trail indicting you in the Lefts thought crime?

Hitch, you lying slut. Are you going to apologize as well to your newly freed Iraqi "comrades" for opposing Bush Sr's war on Iraq in Gulf War 1?

Did you think for that matter that your old comrades here forgot your many writings against that war?

Do you recall chiding Bush Sr for turning a "regional war" into a "global war?"

Did you think we forgot your infamous pasting of poor befuddled(now we know why)Charleton Heston on CNN?

To summarize.

Hitchens: You are a Big Fat Liar and a Right Wing Porker.

And a fat assed fucking bore who deserves a good ass kicking.

Contrarily Yours

Jack McCarthy

I don't care for much of what Hitchens writes, but that, sadly, is pretty much what we have come to see far too much of from the Left.

Just cursing and names and vitriol and insults and threats. Little or no substance.

Looks like it was written by a ten year old. (BTW, I met Hitchens in Rome, he wasnt that fat :P )

"I don't care for much of what Hitchens writes, but that, sadly, is pretty much what we have come to see far too much of from the Left.
Just cursing and names and vitriol and insults and threats. Little or no substance."

This typical of the Left?!?!?!?

If only the left was more like those mature voices of reason like Ann Coulter, Andrew Sullivan and Matt Drudge on the Right.

Get real man

"Ann Coulter, Andrew Sullivan and Matt Drudge on the Right."

A loonatic, a plagarist, and an internet hack who was played for the
right wing pawn.....

you expect me to take those voices seriously?

HItchens is erudite and boring. His change from liberal to conservative
as predictable as menopause.

I'll read John Podhoretz before I read that drivel again.

lol, namecalling and whining.

excellent riposte there, McCarthy.

and I don't even like Hitchens, I think he is a douche, but you fuckers make his case for him.

So Long, Fellow Travelers

By Christopher Hitchens

George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as "evil." Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism. What the president should have done, in the unlikely event that he wanted the support of America's peace-mongers, was to describe a confrontation with Saddam as the "lesser evil."

This is a term the Left can appreciate. Indeed, "lesser evil" is part of the essential tactical rhetoric of today's Left, and has been deployed to excuse or overlook the sins of liberal Democrats, from President Clinton's bombing of Sudan to Madeleine Albright's veto of an international rescue for Rwanda when she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Among those longing for nuance, moral relativism -- the willingness to use the term evil, when combined with a willingness to make accommodations with it -- is the smart thing: so much more sophisticated than "cowboy" language.

Actually, the best case for a regime change in Iraq is that it is the lesser evil: better on balance than the alternatives, which are to confront Saddam later and at a time of his choosing, trust him to make a full disclosure to inspectors or essentially leave him alone.

You might think that the Left could have a regime-change perspective of its own, based on solidarity with its comrades abroad. After all, Saddam's ruling Ba'ath Party consolidated its power by first destroying the Iraqi communist and labor movements, and then turning on the Kurds (whose cause, historically, has been one of the main priorities of the Left in the Middle East).

When I first became a socialist, the imperative of international solidarity was the essential if not the defining thing, whether the cause was popular or risky or not. I haven't seen an anti-war meeting all this year at which you could even guess at the existence of the Iraqi and Kurdish opposition to Saddam, an opposition that was fighting for "regime change" when both Republicans and Democrats were fawning over Baghdad as a profitable client and geopolitical ally.

Not only does the "peace" movement ignore the anti-Saddam civilian opposition, it sends missions to console the Ba'athists in their isolation, and speaks of the invader of Kuwait and Iran and the butcher of Kurdistan as if he were the victim and George W. Bush the aggressor.

Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him.

But some don't even bother to make this disavowal. In the United States, the main organizer of anti-war propaganda is Ramsey Clark, who perhaps understandably can't forgive himself for having been Lyndon Johnson's attorney general. However, he fails to live down this early disgrace by acting as a front man for a sinister sect -- the International Action Center, cover name for the Workers World Party -- which refuses to make any criticism of the Saddam regime.

It is this quasi-Stalinist group, co-organized by a man with the wondrous name of Clark Kissinger, which has recruited such figures as Ed Asner and Marisa Tomei to sign the "Not In Our Name" petition. Funny as this may be in some ways (I don't think the administration is going to war in the name of Ed Asner or Marisa Tomei, let alone Gore Vidal), it is based on a surreptitious political agenda.

In Britain, the chief spokesman of the "anti-war" faction is a Labour MP named George Galloway, who is never happier than when writing moist profiles of Saddam and who says that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst moment of his life.

For the democratic and libertarian Left, that same moment was a high point and not a low one. But there were three ruling parties in the world that greeted the liberation of Eastern Europe with unreserved gloom. These were the Socialist Party of Serbia, the Ba'ath Party of Iraq and the Workers' Party of North Korea, guided by their lugubrious yet megalomaniacal leaders.

Since then, these three party-states and selfish dictators have done their considerable best to ruin the promise of the post Cold War years and to impose themselves even more ruthlessly on their own peoples and neighbors. It took a long time for the world to wake up to Slobodan Milosevic and even longer to get him where he belongs, which is in the dock. It will probably be even more arduous ridding ourselves of the menace of Saddam Hussein.

The most depressing thing, for me at any rate, has been to see so much of the Left so determined to hamper this process, which is why, after 20 years, I have given up my column in the Nation magazine.

The Left has employed arguments as contemptible as those on whose behalf they have been trotted out. It maintained that any resistance to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo would lead to a wider war, chaos and/or the rallying of the Serbs to Milosevic. It forecast massive quagmires and intolerable civilian casualties.

If this sounds familiar, it may be because you are hearing it again now and heard it last year from those who thought the Taliban-al Qaeda base in Afghanistan was not worth fighting about.

But the element of bad faith in the argument is far worse than the feeble-minded hysteria of its logic. In the Balkans, those on the Left and Right who favored intervention could not live with the idea that Europe would permit the extermination of its oldest Muslim minority.

At that point, the sensibilities of Islam did not seem to matter to the Ramsey Clarks and Noam Chomskys, who thought and wrote of national-socialist and Orthodox Serbia as if it were mounting a gallant resistance to globalization. (Saddam, of course, took Milosevic's side even though the Serb leader was destroying mosques and murdering Muslims.)

Now, however, the same people are all frenzied about an American-led "attack on the Muslim world." Are the Kurds not Muslims? Is the new Afghan government not Muslim? Will not the next Iraqi government be Muslim also? This meaningless demagogy among the peaceniks can only be explained by a masochistic refusal to admit that our own civil society has any merit, or by a nostalgia for Stalinism that I can sometimes actually taste as well as smell.

There is, of course, a soggier periphery of more generally pacifist types, whose preferred method of argument about regime change is subject change. The same people, in other words, who don't think that Saddam has any weapons of mass destruction will argue the next moment that, if attacked, he will unleash them with devastating effect.

Or they say that a Palestinian solution should come first, which would offer Saddam a very long lease, given the prospects of a final settlement with Israel (which, meantime, he would have the power and incentive to disrupt).

Or they say we should try deterrence or containment -- the two terms most ridiculed by the Left during the Cold War. And what about the fact that "we" used to be Saddam's backers? And, finally, aren't there other bad guys in the region, and isn't this a double standard?

The last two questions actually have weight, even if they are lightly tossed around. The serious response to the first one would be that, to the extent that the United States underwrote Saddam in the past, this redoubles our responsibility to cancel the moral debt by removing him.

The serious response to the second one would involve noticing that the Saudi Arabian and Turkish oligarchies are, interestingly enough, also opposed to "regime change" in the region. And since when is the Left supposed to argue for preservation of the status quo?

Even a halfway emancipated Iraq would hold out at least the promise of a better life for the Kurds (which annoys the Turks). Its oil resources, once freed up, could help undercut the current Saudi monopoly. Excellent.

This is presumably unintelligible to those content to chant, "No war for oil," as if it were a matter of indifference who controlled the reserves of the region, or who might threaten to ignite or even irradiate these reserves if given the chance.

As someone who has done a good deal of marching and public speaking about Vietnam, Chile, South Africa, Palestine and East Timor in his time (and would do it all again), I can only hint at how much I despise a Left that thinks of Osama bin Laden as a slightly misguided anti-imperialist.

(He actually says he wants to restore the old imperial caliphate and has condemned the Australian-led international rescue of East Timor as a Christian plot against Muslim Indonesia). Or a Left that can think of Milosevic and Saddam as victims.

Instead of internationalism, we find among the Left now a sort of affectless, neutralist, smirking isolationism. In this moral universe, the views of the corrupt and conservative Jacques Chirac -- who built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor, knowing what he wanted it for -- carry more weight than those of persecuted Iraqi democrats.

In this moral universe, the figure of Jimmy Carter -- who incited Saddam to attack Iran in 1980, without any U.N. or congressional consultation that I can remember -- is considered axiomatically more statesmanlike than Bush.

Sooner or later, one way or another, the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples will be free of Saddam Hussein. When that day comes, I am booked to have a reunion in Baghdad with several old comrades who have been through hell. We shall not be inviting anyone who spent this precious time urging democratic countries to give Saddam another chance.

Lefties for Reagan; We have seen the enemy and he is not us


Good-Bye to All That

When we tell our old radical friends that we voted for Ronald Reagan last November, the response is usually one of annoyed incredulity. After making sure that we are not putting them on, our old friends make nervous jokes about Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly, about gods that have failed, about aging yuppies ascending to consumer heaven in their BMWs. We remind them of an old adage: "Anyone under 40 who isn't a socialist has no heart; anyone over 40 who is a socialist has no brain."

Inevitably the talk becomes bitter. One old comrade, after a tirade in which she had denounced us as reactionaries and crypto-fascists, finally sputtered, "And the worst thing is that you've turned your back on the Sixties!"

That was exactly right: casting our ballots for Ronald Reagan was indeed a way of finally saying goodbye to all that -- to the self-aggrandizing romance with corrupt Third Worldism; to the casual indulgence of Soviet totalitarianism; to the hypocritical and self-dramatizing anti-Americanism which is the New Left's bequest to mainstream politics.

The instruments of popular culture may perhaps be forgiven for continuing to portray the '60s as a time of infectious idealism, but those of us who were active then have no excuse for abetting this banality. If in some ways it was the best of times, it was also the worst of times, an era of bloodthirsty fantasies as well as spiritual ones.

We ourselves experienced both aspects, starting as civil rights and antiwar activists and ending as co- editors of the New Left magazine Ramparts. The magazine post allowed us to write about the rough beast slouching through America and also to urge it on through non-editorial activities we thought of as clandestine until we later read about them in the FBI and CIA files we both accumulated.

Like other radicals in those days, we were against electoral politics, regarding voting as one of those charades used by the ruling class to legitimate its power. We were even more against Reagan, then governor of California, having been roughed up by his troopers during the People's Park demonstrations in Berkeley and tear-gassed by his National Guard helicopters during the University of California's Third World Liberation Front Strike.

But neither elections nor elected officials seemed particularly important compared with the auguries of revolution the left saw everywhere by the end of the decade -- in the way the nefarious Richard Nixon was widening the war in Indochina; in the unprovoked attacks by paramilitary police against the Black Panther Party; in the formation of the Weather Underground, a group willing to pick up the gun or the bomb. It was a time when the apocalypse struggling to be born seemed to need only the slightest assist from the radical midwife.

When we were in the voting booth this past November (in different precincts but of the same mind) we both thought back to the day in 1969 when Tom Hayden came by the office and, after getting a Ramparts donation to buy gas masks and other combat issue for Black Panther "guerrillas," announced portentously: "Fascism is here, and we're all going to be in jail by the end of the year."

We agreed wholeheartedly with this apocalyptic vision and in fact had just written in an editorial: "The system cannot be revitalized. It must be overthrown. As humanly as possible, but by any means necessary."

EVERY THOUGHT and perception in those days was filtered through the dark and distorting glass of the Vietnam war. The left was hooked on Vietnam. It was an addictive drug whose rush was a potent mix of melodrama, self-importance and moral rectitude. Vietnam was a universal solvent -- the explanation for every evil we saw and the justification for every excess we committed.

Trashing the windows of merchants on the main streets of America seemed warranted by the notion that these petty bourgeois shopkeepers were cogs in the system of capitalist exploitation that was obliterating Vietnam. Fantasizing the death of local cops seemed warranted by the role they played as an occupying army in America's black ghettos, those mini-Vietnams we yearned to see explode in domestic wars of liberation.

Vietnam caused us to acquire a new appreciation for foreign tyrants like Kim Il Sung of North Korea. Vietnam also caused us to support the domestic extortionism and violence of groups like the Black Panthers, and to dismiss derisively Martin Luther King Jr. as an "Uncle Tom." (The left has conveniently forgotten this fact now that it finds it expedient to invoke King's name and reputation to further its domestic politics).

How naive the New Left was can be debated, but by the end of the '60s we were not political novices. We knew that bad news from Southeast Asia -- the reports of bogged-down campaigns and the weekly body counts announced by Walter Cronkite -- was good for the radical agenda. The more repressive our government in dealing with dissent at home, the more recruits for our cause and the sooner the appearance of the revolutionary Armageddon.

Our assumption that Vietnam would be the political and moral fulcrum by which we would tip this country toward revolution foresaw every possibility except one: that the United States would pull out. Never had we thought that the United States, the arch-imperial power, would of its own volition withdraw from Indochina.

This development violated a primary article of our hand-me-down Marxism: that political action through normal channels could not alter the course of the war. The system we had wanted to overthrow worked tardily and only at great cost, but it worked.

When American troops finally came home, some of us took the occasion to begin a long and painful reexamination of our political assumptions and beliefs. Others did not. For the diehards, there was a post-Vietnam syndrome in its own way as debilitating as that suffered by people who had fought there -- a sense of emptiness rather than exhilaration, a paradoxical desire to hold onto and breathe life back into the experience that had been their high for so many years.

As the post-Vietnam decade progressed, the diehards on the left ignored conclusions about the viability of democratic traditions that might have been drawn from America-s exit from Vietnam and from the Watergate crisis that followed it, a time when the man whose ambitions they had feared most was removed from office by the Constitution rather than by a coup.

The only "lessons" of Vietnam the left seemed interested in were those that emphasized the danger of American power abroad and the need to diminish it, a view that was injected into the Democratic Party with the triumph of the Mc wing.

The problem with this use of Vietnam as a moral text for American policy, however, was that the pages following the fall of Saigon had been whited out.

No lesson, for instance, was seen in Hanoi's ruthless conquest of the South, the establishment of a police state in Saigon and the political obion of the National Liberation Front, whose struggle we on the left had so passionately supported. It was not that credible information was lacking.

Jean Lacouture wrote in 1976: "Never before have we had such proof of so many detained after a war. Not in Moscow in 1917. Not in Madrid in 1939, not in Paris and Rome in 1944, nor in Havana in 1959..." But this eminent French journalist, who had been regarded as something of an oracle when he was reporting America's derelictions during the war, was dismissed as a "sellout."

In 1977, when some former antiwar activists signed an Appeal to the Conscience of Vietnam because of the more than 200,000 prisoners languishing in "reeducation centers" and the new round of self-immolations by Buddhist monks, they were chastised by activist David Dellinger, Institute for Policy Studies fellow Richard Barnet and other keepers of the flame in a New York Times advertisement that said in part: "The present government of Vietnam should be hailed for its moderation and for its extraordinary effort to achieve reconciliation among all of its people."

When tens of thousands of unreconciled "boat people" began to flee the repression of their communist rulers, Joan Baez and others who spoke out in their behalf were attacked for breaking ranks with Hanoi.

Something might also have been learned from the fate of wretched Cambodia. But leftists seemed so addicted to finding an American cause at the root of every problem that they couldn't recognize indigenous evils. As the Khmer Rouge were about to take over, Noam Chomsky wrote that their advent heralded a Cambodian liberation, "a new era of economic development and social justice." The new era turned out to be the killing fields that took the lives of 2 million Cambodians.

Finally, Vietnam emerged as an imperialist power, taking control of Laos, invading Cambodia and threatening Thailand. But in a recent editorial, The Nation explains that the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia "to stop the killing and restore some semblance of civilized government to the devastated country."

This bloody occupation is actually a "rescue mission," and what has happened should not "obscure the responsibility of the United States for the disasters in Indochina," disasters that are being caused by playing the "China card" and refusing to normalize relations with Vietnam.

These acts on the part of the United States "make Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia unlikely"; only the White House can "remove the pressures on Viet- nam from all sides (that) would bring peace to a ravaged land." Such reasoning recalls the wonderful line from the Costa-Gavras film "Z": "Always blame the Americans. Even when you're wrong, you're right."

ANOTHER unacknowledged lesson from Indochina involves the way in which Vietnam has become a satellite of the Soviet Union (paying for foreign aid by sending labor brigades to its benefactor). This development doesn't mesh well with the left's on-going romantic vision of Hanoi.

It also threatens the left's obstinate refusal to admit that during the mid-'70s -- a time when American democracy was trying to heal itself from the twin traumas of the war and Watergate -- the U.S.S.R. was demonstrating that totalitarianism abhors a vacuum by moving into Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

Instead of evaluating the Soviets because of the change in what we used to call "the objective conditions," te left rationalizes Soviet aggression as the spasms of a petrified bureaucracy whose policies are annoying mainly because they distract attention from U.S. malfeasance around the world.

If they were capable of looking intently at the Soviet Union, leftists and liberals alike would have to concur with Susan Sontag's contention (which many of them jeered at when she announced it) that communism is simply left-wing fascism.

One of the reasons the left has been so cautious in its reassessments of the Soviets is the fiction that the U.S.S.R. is on the side of "history." This assumption is echoed in Fred Halliday's euphoric claim, in a recent issue of New Left Review, that Soviet support was crucial to 14 Third World revolutions during the era of "detente" (including such triumphs of human progress as Iran and South Yemen), and in Andrew Kopkind's fatuous observation that "the Soviet Union has almost always sided with the revolutionists, the liberationists, the insurgents."

In Ethiopia? Propped up by 20,000 Cuban legionnaires, the Marxist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam has as its main accomplishment a "Red Campaign of Terror" (its official designation) that killed thousands of people. Where were those who cheer the Soviets' work in behalf of the socialist zeitgeist when this episode took place?

Or this past fall when the Marxist liberator squandered more than $40 million on a party celebrating the 10th anniversary of his murderous rule while his people starved? Where were they to point out the moral when capitalist America rushed in 250 million metric tons of grain to help allay the Ethiopian starvation while the Soviets were managing to contribute only 10 million metric tons?

Where are they now that Mengistu withholds emergency food supplies from the starving provinces of Eritrea and Tigre because the people there are in rebellion against his tyranny?

REAGAN is often upbraided for having described the Soviet Union as an evil empire. Those opposed to this term seem to be offended esthetically rather than politically. Just how wide of the mark is the president?

Oppressing an array of nationalities whose populations far outnumber its own, Russia is the last of the old European empires, keeping in subjugation not only formerly independent states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Hitler's gift to Stalin), but also the nations of Eastern Europe.

Every country "liberated" into the Soviet bloc has been transformed into a national prison, where the borders are guarded to keep the inmates in rather than the foreigners out.

The war in Afghanistan is much more a metaphor for the Soviets' view of the world than Vietnam ever was for America's. Of the approximately 16 million people living in Afghanistan at the time of the Soviet invasion, an estimated 1 million have already been killed and wounded. There are now about 4 million refugees, a figure that does not include "internal" refugees -- the hundreds of thousands of villagers forced to leave their scorched earth for the Soviet-controlled big cities, the only places where food is available.

Or the thousands of Afghan children who been taken to the Soviet Union to be "educated" and who will eventually be returned to their native land as spies and quislings.

Soviet strategy is based on a brutal rejoinder to Mao's poetic notion (which we old New Leftists used to enjoy citing) about guerrillas being like fish swimming in a sea of popular support. The Soviet solution is to boil the sea and ultimately drain it, leaving the fish exposed and gasping on barren land.

The Russian presence is characterized by systematic destruction of crops and medical facilities, indiscriminate terror against the civilian population, carpet bombings and the deadly "yellow rain" that even the leftist Peoples' Tribunal in Paris (successor to the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal) has said is being used in Afghanistan.

During each December anniversary of the Soviet invasion, when liberal politicians rediscover the mujaheddin guerrillas in the hills, after 11 months of moral amnesia, there are blithe references to Afghanistan as "Russia's Vietnam." Those who invoke the analogy seem to think that simply by doing so they have doomed the Russian storm troopers to defeat.

But this analogy is based on a misunderstanding of what Vietnam was and what Afghanistan is. Unlike America's high-tech television war, Afghanistan is one of those old-fashioned encounters that take place in the dark.

The Soviets make no attempt to win hearts and minds; the My Lais that are daily occurrences there cause no shock because they do not appear on Moscow TV; there are no scenes of the peasant children whose hands and faces have been destroyed by antipersonnel bombs in the shapes of toy trucks and butterflies a Los Angeles physician we know saw strewn over the Afghan countryside; there are no images of body bags being offloading from Soviet transports.

Because there is no media coverage, there can be no growing revulsion on the home front, no protests on Soviet campuses and in Soviet streets, no clamor to bring the boys home.

Afghanistan is not Russia's Vietnam not only because the nation committing the atrocities never sees them, but because the rest of the world is blacked out, too. At the height of the Vietnam war there was a noncombatant army of foreign journalists present to witness its conduct.

In Afghanistan they are forbidden, as are the Red Cross and all other international relief agencies that were integral to what happened in Vietnam. And without these witnesses, Afghanistan is a matter of "out of sight, out of mind."

In Vietnam we waged a war against ourselves and lost. The Soviets will not let that happen to them. The truth of the Vietnam analogy is not that guerrillas must inevitably bog down and defeat a superior force of invaders, but that war against indigenous forces by a superpower can be won if it is waged against a backdrop of international ignorance and apathy.

The proper analogy for Afghanistan is not Vietnam at all but rather Spain -- not in the nature of the war, but in the symbolic value it has for our time -- or should -- in terms of democracy's will to resist aggression. Aid to the mujaheddin should not be a dirty little secret of the CIA, but a matter of public policy and national honor as well.

PERHAPS the leading feature of the left today is the moral selectivity that French social critic Jean-Francois Revel has identified as "the syndrome of the cross-eyed left." Leftists can describe Vietnam's conquest and colonization of Cambodia as a "rescue mission," while reviling Ronald Reagan for applying the same term to the Grenada operation, although better than 90 percent of the island's population told independent pollsters they were grateful for the arrival of U.S. troops.

Forgetting for a moment that Afghanistan is "Russia's Vietnam," leftists call Grenada "America's Afghanistan," although people in Afghanistan (as one member of the resistance there told us) would literally die for the elections held in Grenada.

The left's memory can be as selective as its morality. When it comes to past commitments that have failed, the leftist mentality is utterly unable to produce a coherent balance sheet, let alone a profit-and-loss statement.

The attitude toward Soviet penetration of the Americas is a good example. Current enthusiasm for the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua should recall to those of us old enough to remember a previous enthusiasm for Cuba 25 years ago. Many of us began our New Leftism with the Fair Play for Cuba demonstrations. We raised our voices and chanted, "Cuba S,i! Yanqui No!"

We embraced Fidel Castro not only because of the flamboyant personal style of the barbudos of his 26th of July Movement but also because Castro assured the world that his revolution belonged to neither communists nor capitalists, that it was neither red nor black, but Cuban olive green.

We attributed Castro's expanding links with Moscow to the U.S.-sponsored invasion of the Bay of Pigs, and then to the "secret war" waged against Cuba by U.S. intelligence and paramilitary organizations.

But while Castro's apologists in the United States may find it expedient to maintain these fictions, Carlos Franqui and other old Fidelistas now in exile have made it clear that Castro embraced the Soviets even before the U.S. hostility became decisive, and that he steered his country into an alliance with the Soviets with considerable enthusiasm.

Before the Bay of Pigs he put a Soviet general in charge of Cuban forces. Before the Bay of Pigs he destroyed Cuba's democratic trade union movement, although its elected leadership was drawn from his own 26th of July Movement. He did so because he knew that the Stalinists of Cuba's Communist Party would be dependable cheerleaders and efficient policemen of his emerging dictatorship.

One symbolic event along the way that many of us missed was Castro's imprisonment of his old comrade Huber Matos, liberator of Matanzas Province, and one of the four key military leaders of the revolution.

Matos' crime: criticizing the growing influence of Cuban communists (thereby jeopardizing Castro's plans to use them as his palace guard). Matos' sentence: 20 years in a 4-by-11 concrete box.

Given such a precedent, how can we fail to support Eden Pastora for taking up arms against early signs of similar totalitarianism in Nicaragua?

What has come of Cuba's revolution to break the chains of American imperialism? Soviets administer the still one-crop Cuban economy; Soviets train the Cuban army; and Soviet subsidies, fully one-quarter of Cuba's gross national product, prevent the Cuban treasury from going broke.

Before the revolution, there were more than 35 independent newspapers and radio stations in Havana. Now, there is only the official voice of Granma, the Cuban Pravda, and a handful of other outlets spouting the same party line.

Today Cuba is a more abject and deformed colony of the Soviet empire than it ever was of America. The arch-rebel of our youth, Fidel Castro, has become a party hack who cheerfully endorsed the rape of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and endorses the ongoing plunder of Afghanistan today, an aging pimp who sells his young men to the Russians for use in their military adventures in return for $10 billion a year.

In leftist circles, of course, such arguments are anathema, and no historical precedent, however daunting, can prevent outbreaks of radical chic.

Epidemics of radical chic cannot be prevented by referring to historical precedents. That perennial delinquent Abbie Hoffman will lead his Potemkin village tours of Managua. The Hollywood stars will dish up Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega as an exotic hors d'oeuvre on the Beverly Hills cocktail circuit.

In the self-righteous moral glow accompanying such gatherings, it will be forgotten that, through the offices of the U.S. government, more economic and military aid was provided the Sandinistas in the first 18 months following their takeover than was given to Somoza in the previous 20 years, and that this aid was cut off primarily because of the clear signs that political pluralism in Nicaragua was being terminated.

Adherents of today's version of radical chic may never take seriously the words of Sandinista directorate member Bayard Arce when he says that elections are a "hindrance" to the goal of "a dictatorship of the proletariat" and necessary only "as an expedient to deprive our enemies of an argument."

They will ignore former Sandinista hero and now contra leader Eden Pastora who sees the junta as traitors who have sold out the revolutionary dream ("now that we are occupied by foreign forces from Cuba and Russia, now that we are governed by a dictatorial government of nine men, now more than ever the Sandinista struggle is justified").

They will ignore opposition leader Arturo Cruz, an early supporter of the Sandinista revolution and previously critical of the contras, when the worsening situation makes him changes his mind and ask the Reagan administration to support them in a statement that should have the same weight as Andrei Sakharov's plea to the West to match the Soviet arms buildup.

American leftists propose solutions for the people of Central America that they wouldn't dare propose for themselves. These armchair revolutionaries project their self-hatred and their contempt for the privileges of democracy -- which allow them to live well and to think badly -- onto people who would be only too grateful for the luxuries they disdain.

Dismissing "bourgeois" rights as a decadent frill that the peoples of the Third World can't afford, leftists spread-eagle the Central Americans between the dictators of the right and the dictators of the left.

The latter, of course, are their chosen instruments for bringing social justice and economic well-being, although no leftist revolution has yet provided impressive returns on either of these qualities and most have made the lives of their people considerably more wretched than they were before.

VOTING is symbolic behavior, a way of evaluating what one's country has been as well as what it might become. We do not accept Reagan's policies chapter and verse (especially in domestic policy, which we haven't discussed here), but we agree with his vision of the world as a place increasingly inhospitable to democracy and increasingly dangerous for America.

One of the few saving graces of age is a deeper perspective on the passions of youth. Looking back on the left's revolutionary enthusiasms of the last 25 years, we have painfully learned what should have been obvious all along: that we live in an imperfect world that is bettered only with great difficulty and easily made worse -- much worse.

This is a conservative assessment, but on the basis of half a lifetime's experience, it seems about right.

so long, fellow travelers

good-bye to all that

"We remind them of an old adage: "Anyone under 40 who isn't a socialist has no heart; anyone over 40 who is a socialist has no brain."

That is ripped off from the movie "Swimming with Sharks."

"That is ripped off from the movie 'Swimming with Sharks.'"

actually, Fran?ois Guisot (1787-1874).

I think a better picture of the views taken by "the left" is given by the following letter by Katha Pollitt, in response to Hitchens " So Long, Fellow Travelers" piece:

Letter to an Ex-Contrarian

The debate continued here:

The Hitchens-Pollitt Papers

Touche, Taba.

jemmmett, give hitchens a few tries. It is a different, heavier style of writing, but only because he's a pretty intelligent guy who makes some not-too-easy to understand, but cuttingly relevant analogies.

If you still don't get it, there's always other people. They can't carry his water intellectually, though. The guy knows his history and culture going back centuries. That's a lot more than most pundits.

Christopher Hitchens:

Who wants a Third Word War? The Iranian President says that one member state of the United Nations should be wiped physically from the map with all its people. He says the United States is a Satanic power. Members of his government, named members of his government have been caught sponsoring deaths squads. He's lied, he's lied to the European Union about his nuclear program-

Bill Maher:

But you know that a lot-


He says the Messiah is about to come back. Who's looking for a war here?


So does George Bush, by the way [audience applause]. That's not facetious [audience applause continues].


That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous. [oohs and groans from audience, Hitchens gives them the finger] Fuck you, fuck you. [groans continue]


I was just saying what the President of Iran and the President of America have in common is that they both are a little too comfortable with the idea of the world coming to an end.


Cheer yourself up like that. The President has said, quite a great contrast before the podium of the Senate, I think applauded by most present, in his State of the Union address, that we support the democratic movement of the Iranian people to be free of theocracy -- not that we will impose ourselves on them, but that if they fight for it we're on their side. That seems to be the right position to take, jeer all you like.