T Nation

Great Debate - Hitchens vs. Ritter


If anyone is interested, here is a really interesting debate between right-wing British Slate journalist Christopher Hitchens and former marine and Clinton weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Gives a really good history of the middle east, and the sides for and against war.


Ummm, I don't think you can really characterize Christopher Hitchens as "right-wing."

Pro-Iraq-War, definitely -- but I don't think that one issue makes him right-wing...

Anyway, thanks for the link -- I'll have to listen later when I'm not at work.


I know that he writes for Slate, and that he used to be considered liberal....what would you consider him now?


In truth, Hitchens has said that he considers himself a true liberal because of his support of the war in Iraq.

He believes that his former peers of the Left have betrayed their principles by mollycoddling fascism - ie, being apologists for Islamism and Saddam Hussein.


I couldn't get the link to open, so I can't comment directly.
I did read a book by J. Ritter, "The War in Iraq" back in 2003. It was written in 2001 or 2002. At the time I was reading it, I was in Kuwait, awaiting word to push forward for the invasion (err, liberation).
The book, although I scoffed at it at the time, was pretty much dead on. It stated that Iraq had no WMDs, the war would be inevitable and unneccasary, and that stability in the region will be hard to maintain. It outlined how the Bush adminastration was itching for a fight and avoided proper channels of diplomacy. This coming from a man schooled in war, pro American, and not what I would consider liberal. Decent read, amazing predictions.
I'll have to try this link later when I have more time.


Yeah, I am not sure what to make of Ritter's politics. He is an ex-marine, who is probably harder on Clinton than on GWB. He does not really sound either liberal or conservative. He does sounds credible on Iraq, but who knows? Maybe he just has a n ax to grind and a book to sell.

I retried that link, and the first time it did not work, and the next 2 times it went right to the audio of the debate (in QuikTime). Try it again, and if it does not work and you want to hear it, do a Yahoo news search for "Hitchens Ritter debate". That is how I found it.


You are cetainly right about Hitches.

I watched him debate George Calloway on Democracy Now about the Iraq war and thought he won the debate. If only because he is a much better debater than Calloway. It was disappointing to see someone who is trying to represent the ant-war view just not score. I wish Hitchens would debate someone like Chompsky then I believe you'd see his arguemnets unravel and fall apart.


I saw a little of the debate with Galloway, and this one is much better. Galloway is an idiot, and a disservice to the anti-war movement...although I did like watching him smack Norma Colemean around.


Hitchens would smash that hypocrite fraud Chomsky. I for one would love to see that self-hating prick get his public come-uppance.

Hitchens has very bonafide liberal credentials - but if you read his columns on Slate and other outlets he recognizes the threat and the danger in giving in to these guys. He feels that it's silly to betray what he sees as a truth just because it's not the popular 'liberal' stance at the time. (basically these days liberals are knee-jerk "whatever Bush says we're going to support the opposite" )

It also bugs me to no end the short-sightedness and lack of perspective people have on this issue. I remain convinced that in spite of the present difficulties taking out Saddam was the right thing to do and the Middle East will be a better place in the long run. We cannot afford to abandon these people now. We stirred up the hornet's nest and we have to see it through - it's our responsibility now. Call me optimistic, but history will vindicate Bush's decision to topple Saddam, but vilify is utter incompetence in the post invasion operations that allowed all these foreign terrorists to enter the country and setoff a guerilla war.


I'd love to see the debate as I'm sure Chompsky would win as he always does.

You have no idea as to what you're talking about in relation to Chompsky.
He is one of the most honest intellectuals around.

Did you happen to see the debate between Chompsky and Alan Dershowitz on Isreal and Palestine conflict?

Why take out Saddam? Why was he such a bad guy now but not when we were supporting him? What about all the other tyranical dictators of the world?

It bugs me the about the amount of propagnda that went into creating the impetus to this war and how the "leaders" of this country will stop at nothing to pursue their own agenda, in spite of what the population of the world thinks.

The history books that are funded by major corporations will most certainly say that it was the right thing to do. What else could you expect?


It is spelled Chomsky. He is a fraud.


Why take out Saddam? Why was he such a bad guy now but not when we were supporting him? ...quote]

Do you really not understand or is this rhetorical?

We supported Iraq when they fought Iran because Iran was (and remains) a huge threat to the stability of the middle east.

It didn't take us too long before we figured out Saddam was truly evil.

We expelled him from Kuwait and eventually took him out.

Chomsky only tells a sliver of the story. He supports every mass murderer that comes along yet criticizes the west for every time they must make a choice between two evils.

If you are going to worship the piece of shit at least try to spell his name right. You get it wrong in every thread.


I agree with this 100%.


you're joking right? This from a guy who denies the Holocaust and the Bosnian genocide and defended the Communist atrocities in Cambodia?

And you have the gall to call us propagandists. Pot. Calling. Kettle. Black.

because he challenged the legitimacy of the UN (oh the irony) and would not come clean on WMD, and basically because he gave us the in and the US took it - something they should have done back in 1991.

we supported him in the Iran-Iraq war and only because the Soviets were supporting Iran. We had to give arms to the Iraqi to maintain detente. Can you imagine if a Soviet sponsored Iran took Iraq - and you think the Middle East is fucked up now....

I always love this lame attempt at deflection by the anti-war crowd. If we could, we would. But there is only so much we can do. Gotta prioritize.

Castro - not worth it. Most of the Cubans who wanted to get out are already in Miami.

North Korea - the Chinese won't allow it. Therefore, take out North Korea, you gotta deal with the Chinese, too. You know what history teaches us about fighting two-front wars don't you? Plug in your dictator and there's your answer.

Africa - are you kidding me? See North Korea, above.

propaganda - god I love how the radical left uses that word.... it makes it sound so dastardly... funny, how I would consider Chomsky a propagandist "par excellence"

my facts are your propaganda and vice-versa, so is there even a point in arguing with you?

Like I said, I'm not going into the black hole with you. It's pointless - once you start throwing "propaganda" around like ol' Noam would, I know we're never going to see eye to eye - so let's just agree to disagree, shall we?

History has a way of sorting all this shit out and then we'll see who was right.



I have thought on this point very often. Its a tenet of true leftist to oppose fascism and theocracies wherever they rise up, so if one believed that Iraq was truly a cause for this, then I applaud him.

If I believed that we went into Iraq because we wanted to free them from the yoke of a fascist dictator, I would agree with him. However, this, like everything else America does, is all about the money. So I oppose this war. It is a nice thought on the part of the journalist, but an idealistic and unrealistic one.


and what is wrong with that? this war is partly about oil and money. again, what is wrong with that? we need both to ensure the survival of our nation. we can go into arguments about alternative energy sources, but until that day comes we're stuck dealing with these Arab assholes.

Why do we keep imposing individual ethics on a nation? This is silly and dangerous - Nations will do whatever it takes to preserve their interests. What the US did is no different than what any other big boy on the block in a specific period of history would have done to try and stay on top of the mountain.

this notion of ethics is dangerous when applied to foreign policy - it can become a weakness - obviously one that bin Laden and his cronies are exploiting rather well, if you gather all the dissenting viewpoints regarding this war.

it's not unrealistic at all - you just cannot seem to grasp the nature of the enemy you are dealing with. I'd rather be proactive and hit them while they are weak than ignore them and allow them to organize.


Truly, what money? How has the venture in Iraq made the US money?

If the administration was half as unethical as you claim, why not just lift sanctions and buy oil from Saddam? Middle Eastern countries are experts at pumping oil out of the ground at less than $5 a barrel with their state run economy - the 'money' answer would be to leave Saddam in place and have the same relationship with him as we do the Saudis.

Honestly - what money?


If Hitchens really does have those values that he claims to shouldn't he be petitioning our and other governments to intervene in dozens of other places around the world?


The fact that we need oil gives us no rights to invade any soverign nation. Empires do this. And empires eventually piss so many people off by doing this that get destroyed. If Canada invaded the United States because they needed more coal and we had lots of it, everyone would be crying, "How can they do this?". Its called imperialism buddy.

Once again, imperialism. The United States should be trying to break this mold of empires putting a stranglehold on resources in order to preserve themselves. Methinks the founding fathers you all love invoking would have quite a problem with taking over other countries. If you want to think this way, then fine. But don't call us any better than the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empiire, the British Empire, or for that matter, the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. America is supposed to be anout a free democracy where we live in peace. Not a warlike country that takes what it needs regardless of what the world says. Thats the stuff that starts World wars.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. If you mean benevolence to other nations- well there is a time for the olive branch and a time for the arrow. For the last five years there has been only an arrow pointing at all the Arabs in the world, sometimes unjustly. Bin Laden is scum. I agree. But why concentrate on Iraq when there are bigger enemies out there- Al Quaida namely.


I still believe that is you guys that don't understand the nature of this enemy. You cannot fight a religion. People will do anything for their religion. This is not an organized enemy that you can throw back or outflank; this is an idealogical war that we lose every time another Muslim comes to despise the US because we cannot seem to mind our own business.


again with that silly argument...

what rule says we have to be everywhere at once? And if they did try, I'm sure the anti-US crowd would be all over them for trying to conquer the world.

They just can't win, no matter what they do.


Not really - but he should support us or other governments if they do so.