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One of our most respected and controversial liberal thinkers makes the case for war in Iraq. Written in his trademark contrarian voice, Untitled on Iraq is comprised of Hitchens' essays on the justification for war in Iraq and other related issues written for Slate.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and more, as well as 25% new material on the war One of our most respected and controversial liberal thinkers makes the case for war in Iraq. Written in his trademark contrarian voice, Untitled on Iraq is comprised of Hitchens' essays on the justification for war in Iraq and other related issues written for Slate.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and more, as well as 25% new material on the war


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One of our most respected and controversial liberal thinkers makes the case for war in Iraq. Written in his trademark contrarian voice, Untitled on Iraq is comprised of Hitchens' essays on the justification for war in Iraq and other related issues written for Slate.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and more, as well as 25% new material on the war One of our most respected and controversial liberal thinkers makes the case for war in Iraq. Written in his trademark contrarian voice, Untitled on Iraq is comprised of Hitchens' essays on the justification for war in Iraq and other related issues written for Slate.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and more, as well as 25% new material on the war

30 review for A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq

  1. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    The 'pro-war Left' has been an interest of mine for the last year or two, and I finally got around to reading this collection of essays by Hitchens, who is probably the most famous pro-war Leftist in the Anglophone world. This book is a defense of the war in Iraq written in the lead-up to the war and immediately after the ground invasion began. I did not read these when they were initially published, so it was a fun prism to look through and remember what I was thinking and doing a few years ago The 'pro-war Left' has been an interest of mine for the last year or two, and I finally got around to reading this collection of essays by Hitchens, who is probably the most famous pro-war Leftist in the Anglophone world. This book is a defense of the war in Iraq written in the lead-up to the war and immediately after the ground invasion began. I did not read these when they were initially published, so it was a fun prism to look through and remember what I was thinking and doing a few years ago (attending anti-war marches, sputtering incoherently about this or that). Hitchens presents several positions that all of his arguments stem from: 1) War with Iraq was inevitable and in fact had been happening to some degree since the first invasion in the early 90's. Since the fight is inevitable, why let Suddam choose the time? 2) American foreign policy should align with Kurdish nationalism because the Kurds were gassed by Saddam and had achieved a "democratic" system in Northern Iraq thanks to the no-fly zones. In addition, aligning with Kurdistan would be an affront to Turkey, a state that must be opposed due to its treatment of the Kurdish population and continual denial of the Armenian genocide. Siding with Kurdish nationalism means forcing regime change in Iraq. 3) Suddam Hussein was a fascist and patron of terrorism (sending money to the families of suicide bombers, giving safe houses and asylum to a host of terrorists, etc). Since 9/11 America is "at war with the forces of reaction" and so must go to war with Iraq. 4) Iraq had or was going to get nuclear weapons or other such nasty weapons. (Hitchens problematizes the term 'weapons of mass destruction' by pointing out the mass destruction Suddam carried out with regular explosives in the Kuwaiti oil fields). 5) That the secular/"progressive" forces in Iraq and around the Middle East wanted a US invasion while the Saudis and so on opposed it. I may be forgetting a few things, but those are the backbone of the Hitchens argument for the war. Throughout the book he repeats them in various ways, along with attacking a variety of Leftist arguments against the war. His treatment of the latter is probably the most interesting thing. He eloquently (and often hilariously) attacks the various conspiracy theories and "analysis" put forward by the Left against the war, exposing the often anti-semitic, pro-Islamist, or just plain stupid underbelly of anti-imperialism. The last essay in the book finds Hitchens with a Red Crescent convoy throwing free meals to a crowd of people in Southern Iraq. The chaotic scene is disheartening and becomes even more so when a large line of tanks thunders by without pausing. While this scene does not extinguish his optimism about the liberatory potential of American foreign policy (what a phrase!), it does damper it a bit. That essay is the best piece of writing in the collection. Its humility is striking next to the rest of the Hitchens oeuvre. In the end, his arguments for the war and the premises on which they stand do not add up for me. Suddam's regime in Iraq was no doubt horrific. and it's a fine thing that Suddamn is dead. The Islamist groups Iraq funded or gave safe haven to are and were not ever "freedom fighters" or misguided opponents of imperialism; they are theocratic-fascists (I am saying fascist here is a literal sense, not as mere hyperbole). Leftist support for various totalitarian regimes, along with the 'anti-zionism' and conspiratorial nonsense, is contemptible. On these things Hitchens and I can agree. With that said, American and British bombs and tanks and the various political gangs they helped put into power have just as little to offer humanity as Suddam did. Kurdish nationalists - who engage in ethnic cleansing, not to mention a long-standing campaign of murdering Turkish school teachers; two bits Hitchens forgot to mention - have just as little to offer humanity as nationalists in Turkey or wherever else. There are no 'good guys' in wars between competing states or states-in-waiting. There are no righteous forces to rally around. If I choose to extend my sympathy, dare I say 'solidarity', to anyone, it will be those who refuse to constitute a force or take a side, who refuse to participate in the death race of politics and nationalism. I can be certain, even though I do not know them, that right now, even now, there are comrades in Baghdad who secretly burn the Koran.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    "...what if, just for a moment, one tried to classify something as anti-American for its own sake? My nomination would go to Pat Robertson, who appeared on television in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 atrocity and declared that the mass murder in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania was a divine punishment for a society that indulged secularism, pornography, and homosexual conduct. Here is a man who quite evidently dislikes his own society and sympathizes, not all that covertly, "...what if, just for a moment, one tried to classify something as anti-American for its own sake? My nomination would go to Pat Robertson, who appeared on television in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 atrocity and declared that the mass murder in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania was a divine punishment for a society that indulged secularism, pornography, and homosexual conduct. Here is a man who quite evidently dislikes his own society and sympathizes, not all that covertly, with those who would use violence and fanaticism to destroy it. He dislikes this society, furthermore, for the very things that it tends to advertise about itself, namely [freedom] and variety. If this is not anti-American then the term is truly meaningless." A collection of more than twenty articles and essays written by Christopher Hitchens on the U.S. military involvement in Iraq, the first written in November, 2002, roughly four months before then President George W. Bush ordered the assault on Baghdad. The last essay was written in April, 2003 as the war was being (theoretically) concluded. While I concede that it is almost impossible to write history in the present tense, even now with over fifteen years of accumulated hindsight it's hard to argue with Hitchens' take on what transpired. His rationale was sound and firmly grounded - as it always was. Beyond the bottomless pit of American rhetoric and controversial foreign policy, what 'A Long Short War' highlights for me is the resolve that Christopher Hitchens had for going wherever his enormous brain led him, with little or no regard for political left/right. He confronted idiocracy wherever he found it and reminded us that the lesser evils are indeed occasionally necessary. Even when I disagree with his opinions (which is rare), I am fully cognizant of the high probability that I am the one who is wrong.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    This pamphlet completely flipped my viewpoint of American military intervention in Iraq on its head. I am by no means conservative (neither is Hitchens) or pro-military/pro-state. However upon reading these hundred pages, largely focusing on the intolerable and inexcusable suffering of the murdered and dispossessed Kurdish Iraqis and their tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein, only an ethically defunct, intellectually weak person could argue against American intervention and the ultimate eradicati This pamphlet completely flipped my viewpoint of American military intervention in Iraq on its head. I am by no means conservative (neither is Hitchens) or pro-military/pro-state. However upon reading these hundred pages, largely focusing on the intolerable and inexcusable suffering of the murdered and dispossessed Kurdish Iraqis and their tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein, only an ethically defunct, intellectually weak person could argue against American intervention and the ultimate eradication of the Saddam regime. Christopher Hitchens was in Iraq first hand and befriended many Kurds as well as Shia Iraqis and spent more time than any other journalist or writer in that part of Mesopotamia. Far from the armchair pundits of the American journalistic left, he made his opinions and statements from a point of view echoing the desires and plights of the Kurdish people specifically, from a thirty year relationship with all the people of Iraq.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zach Burton

    This is quite possibly the most eye-opening portrait of the build-up to, and ensuing criticism of the Iraq war. A truly intelligent and sound example of apologia.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mr.

    This is an unbelievably terrible effort at polemicisism by a usually brilliant journalist. Hitchens was, and still is in favor of regime change in Iraq. He accepts the hard-line Neo-Conservative agenda of Wolfowitz and Cheney, and doesn't seem to have any problem with accepting each and every one of their lies. -To begin, Hitchens has no problem with the knowledge that the US has supported Hussein throughout his worst atrocities, and somehow believes that the sudden desire to remove him is the p This is an unbelievably terrible effort at polemicisism by a usually brilliant journalist. Hitchens was, and still is in favor of regime change in Iraq. He accepts the hard-line Neo-Conservative agenda of Wolfowitz and Cheney, and doesn't seem to have any problem with accepting each and every one of their lies. -To begin, Hitchens has no problem with the knowledge that the US has supported Hussein throughout his worst atrocities, and somehow believes that the sudden desire to remove him is the product of noble and benign humanitarian intervention. -Yet later he seems to have no problem with the knowledge that this war is about oil, writing "of course it's about oil, stupid." Hitchens thinks oil is worth fighting for. Are we supposed to accept this from a former Trotskyist? It is worth sacrificing human life for the sake of oil profits for the whores at Halliburton? This is sheer nonsense. -The book is replete with dated material. Hitchens believed that Hussein had WMD, that he had well established ties to Al-Queda, and that the removal of Hussein was necessary for the stability of the region. This is utterly ridiculous. -Long, Short, War is easily Hitchens' worst work of writing, and you shouldn't believe a word of it. The Iraq war is a miserable failure motivated by the forces of greed and barbarity. Hitch never should have stooped to the low level of Bush, Cheney, and all the rest. May he redeem himself in the future and admit the error of his ways.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nita

    He makes it clear that he is documenting his reasoning before the results are in, which is a brave and honest move. The more people who commit their opinions unrevised, the more honest the historical analysis can be. Hitch might just be arrogant enough to believe he couldn't possibly be wrong, and this was him making his early reservation to gloat, but I don't really believe that. I think the man has a high regard for critical thinking, and is brave enough to put his reputation on the line for th He makes it clear that he is documenting his reasoning before the results are in, which is a brave and honest move. The more people who commit their opinions unrevised, the more honest the historical analysis can be. Hitch might just be arrogant enough to believe he couldn't possibly be wrong, and this was him making his early reservation to gloat, but I don't really believe that. I think the man has a high regard for critical thinking, and is brave enough to put his reputation on the line for the sake of keeping accurate records of the process of justification that led up to the war. Or maybe he really is all the things his old friends on the left call him these days. I think it was honest and brave, and I know that it's great fodder for historical analysis, because looking at the reasoning now it's fascinating to see how incomplete his reasons were in the face of the way events have played out since 2003. Hitch is a great thinker, and at one time he believed the things in this book justified war as the less messy alternative. Very sobering. The real trick, as always, is the learn the right lessons from this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    I thoroughly recommend this book to those interested in this controversial conflict. Hitchen's as always does a wonderful job of defending his views with reason, evidence, experience and increasingly uncommon these days eloquently. However in 2012 it is patently obvious that the politicians he ultimately convinced to launch this intervention did not have anywhere near as noble intentions as he did. There again as is demonstrated in elegant style in this collection of essays a lot of those oppose I thoroughly recommend this book to those interested in this controversial conflict. Hitchen's as always does a wonderful job of defending his views with reason, evidence, experience and increasingly uncommon these days eloquently. However in 2012 it is patently obvious that the politicians he ultimately convinced to launch this intervention did not have anywhere near as noble intentions as he did. There again as is demonstrated in elegant style in this collection of essays a lot of those opposed to the intervention had very real and shady reasons of their own. He has come under severe criticism from an often incoherent babel that state with authority that this man sold out to the ever dreaded neo-con grand wizards. I say NO. Hitchen's has been one of the few political/religious commentators steadfast and well rounded on all of his stances since he has taken them. That includes his condemnation and comparisons of Saddam with Caligula ever since witnessing first hand the cruelty of that brutal regime. Criticize his views if you wish (he would and did encourage it) but he had them for the best of reasons and defended them admirably. Iraq's Caligula is dead and its people finally have a chance to build a new republic. Give this a go if you are interested in more than the over simplistic "No war for oil" arguments.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

    Accademic yet relevant

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Reading anything by Christopher Hitchens is time well spent, even if you don't always agree with him. He makes a compelling case that pacifism is just as morally reprehensible as the the worst to come from intervention in Iraq. The decades of authoritarian rule by Saddam Hussein has come at a cost of sectarian genocide of a couple hundred thousand northern Kurds and as many southern Shia. The 1.5 million lives lost in the Iraq-Iran war, the attempted annexation of Kuwait, and the ecological deva Reading anything by Christopher Hitchens is time well spent, even if you don't always agree with him. He makes a compelling case that pacifism is just as morally reprehensible as the the worst to come from intervention in Iraq. The decades of authoritarian rule by Saddam Hussein has come at a cost of sectarian genocide of a couple hundred thousand northern Kurds and as many southern Shia. The 1.5 million lives lost in the Iraq-Iran war, the attempted annexation of Kuwait, and the ecological devastation caused to arable land as Saddam ordered over 600 oil wells to be flooded and set ablaze during his retreat are to name a few of his atrocities. The collection of short essays which comprise this book were written around the time of the 2002-2003 invasion and thus could not portend the later difficulties of restructuring a post-Saddam Iraq. I wish Mr. Hitchens were alive today to provide further commentary on how events have transpired and what could be done to increase stability in the region. It is a great read on a challenging topic. Do you depose a dictator who is responsible for killing millions at the risk of creating a power vacuum that enables groups like ISIS in the region? Surely Saddam had to be toppled, but how have we handled the fallout since the war and what could we learn from this experience?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Temnospondyli

    I could respect these essays more if Hitch had been honest about his pro-war stance, that he is friends with the Kurds and wished to see them liberated. But to swallow the falsehoods of the Bush administration without even the slightest apprehension... No, better to blame Carter and Clinton than dare admit to any faults of his favorite right wing regime. Only on page 99 )out of 104!) does Hitch even dare show a bit of unease, pinning the blame solely on Gen. Schwarzkopf rather then his boss, Bus I could respect these essays more if Hitch had been honest about his pro-war stance, that he is friends with the Kurds and wished to see them liberated. But to swallow the falsehoods of the Bush administration without even the slightest apprehension... No, better to blame Carter and Clinton than dare admit to any faults of his favorite right wing regime. Only on page 99 )out of 104!) does Hitch even dare show a bit of unease, pinning the blame solely on Gen. Schwarzkopf rather then his boss, Bush Sr. And 15 years after the writing of these essays, Iraq is still our problem, the dead continue to pile up, the museums and libraries, which seemed most important to Hitch, are still at risk, at least what’s left of them, and isn’t it a shame that Hitch didn’t live to see the atrocities of the Islamic State, which he, Bush, Blair, and the other heroes of Iraq failed to predict. Perhaps it’s not right to speak ill of the dead, but Hitch’s humanism fled him in favor of far right righteousness here. But, at least we can agree that it’s a good thing Saddam is dead,even when we disagree on how it should have happened and why.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    This book presents a very convincing argument of the moral case for ousting Saddam and liberating Iraq. The moral case flounders however when confronted with the reality of the religiously riven Iraqi society. We can see what Iraq could have become when we look at the success of Kurdistan after its liberation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yas

    Rubbish. I tried to be open-minded but this was the impression I got after reading it. Hitchens justified this war on the ground it is both "retaliatory and preventive". It was neither. Saddam's regime was so weak (the author himself says so later!!) that such justification falls flat. There is also a bit of conspiratorially thinking that the writer derides in his detractors like "the collusion between Milosevic/serbia, Saddam and North Korea regimes" that has no track in any reports or analysis a Rubbish. I tried to be open-minded but this was the impression I got after reading it. Hitchens justified this war on the ground it is both "retaliatory and preventive". It was neither. Saddam's regime was so weak (the author himself says so later!!) that such justification falls flat. There is also a bit of conspiratorially thinking that the writer derides in his detractors like "the collusion between Milosevic/serbia, Saddam and North Korea regimes" that has no track in any reports or analysis as far as i am aware. A crass judgement was passed at the last section of the book, where the writer accuses those who reject the war of being unethical, equating religiously with lacking ethics. even though both the pro-war and anti war camps had people of all religious persuasions and none. this was truly a low point. the author speaks with arrogant certainty about the relations between Al Qaeda and Saddam and the existence of weapons of mass destruction. He suspects that the only reason no such weapons were found because the regime fooled the inspectors the way a disease can fool a doctor's evaluation.The only honest way to be sure none were found is through occupation. last but not least, was the belief that there is no reason to think that al Qaeda might flourish post occupation. (at the last chapter, the author take their existence as a condemnation that they existed in Iraq all along(with no fault of course to the occupation). Maybe one of the rare arguments I find myself agreeing with is saying that the 2003 war was not primarily about oil. He made an actually a half-decent(although incomplete) argument there. I can go on and on but you get the gist.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ben Bush

    Reading this back-to-back with Zizek's Iraq book, I couldn't help but notice the repetition of a rhetorical strategy: a) Zizek: "The true utopia is that things can go on indefinitely as they are." Zizek refutes his critics who call him utopian by claiming that the true utopia is Fukuyama and the belief that liberal global capitalism can continue indefinitely. He uses it in various forms in different texts including his Iraq book and his speech at OWS, b) Hitchens describing the semi-independent Reading this back-to-back with Zizek's Iraq book, I couldn't help but notice the repetition of a rhetorical strategy: a) Zizek: "The true utopia is that things can go on indefinitely as they are." Zizek refutes his critics who call him utopian by claiming that the true utopia is Fukuyama and the belief that liberal global capitalism can continue indefinitely. He uses it in various forms in different texts including his Iraq book and his speech at OWS, b) Hitchens describing the semi-independent state of Kurds in northern Iraq: "This is not Utopia...the real dreamers or fantasists in the region are those who think the status quo can be maintained." I guess I just noticed it because in both cases I found it affecting but with greater repetition started to think of it as just a useful strategy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    It's always been strange that Hitchens would stand with GW Bush on anything, but after reading this book it's clear that his reasons for AN Iraq War, as envisioned in 1991 as the final crushing blow, are not the stated reasons for the 2003- Iraq War. The case he makes in a series of articles is intelligent and thoughtful, and is not a contrarian viewpoint at all. Worth reading for a slice of history-as-it's-being-lived and for the perspective that there could have been a much better made case fo It's always been strange that Hitchens would stand with GW Bush on anything, but after reading this book it's clear that his reasons for AN Iraq War, as envisioned in 1991 as the final crushing blow, are not the stated reasons for the 2003- Iraq War. The case he makes in a series of articles is intelligent and thoughtful, and is not a contrarian viewpoint at all. Worth reading for a slice of history-as-it's-being-lived and for the perspective that there could have been a much better made case for the Iraq War than the one that was given. And, that it was about 12 years late. Interesting.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I just have such a hard time believing the Hitch means any of this. If he is to be taken at his word, it is commendable that he is so steadfast in his support of his Kurdish friends. But what of all the other repressed people of the Earth? Do we roll their corrupt government as well? That's whats so confounding about Hitchens right now. Of course, I doubt he saw the incompetence of what would follow. An interesting look at some of the lesser celebrated altruistic reasons for invading Iraq. I just have such a hard time believing the Hitch means any of this. If he is to be taken at his word, it is commendable that he is so steadfast in his support of his Kurdish friends. But what of all the other repressed people of the Earth? Do we roll their corrupt government as well? That's whats so confounding about Hitchens right now. Of course, I doubt he saw the incompetence of what would follow. An interesting look at some of the lesser celebrated altruistic reasons for invading Iraq.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    This book is a fascinating look into the 2003 thought of the left leaning Christopher Hitchen's support for the war and the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. In a well argued piece, Hitch makes a decent, although not air tight, support for the regime change. Although it's easy to see now, 12 years after the publishing of the book where he was wrong, it's an excellent book overall, and a (long, in my case, as I was preoccupied with other thing) short read. This book is a fascinating look into the 2003 thought of the left leaning Christopher Hitchen's support for the war and the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. In a well argued piece, Hitch makes a decent, although not air tight, support for the regime change. Although it's easy to see now, 12 years after the publishing of the book where he was wrong, it's an excellent book overall, and a (long, in my case, as I was preoccupied with other thing) short read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Hitchens' profession of friendship with convicted swindler (and purveyor of Arizona beachfront property) Ahmed Chalabi does not reflect well on his reasoning for toppling Saddam Hussein at all costs. Rarely has a more agile mind been deployed in such an array of intellectual gymnastics to justify something that was so mind-numbingly stupid. Hitchens' profession of friendship with convicted swindler (and purveyor of Arizona beachfront property) Ahmed Chalabi does not reflect well on his reasoning for toppling Saddam Hussein at all costs. Rarely has a more agile mind been deployed in such an array of intellectual gymnastics to justify something that was so mind-numbingly stupid.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    for johanna

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lee Scoresby

    Hitchens supported using military force to topple Saddham Hussein. I don't agree with him, but I wouldn't want to get in a debate with him about it. Hitchens supported using military force to topple Saddham Hussein. I don't agree with him, but I wouldn't want to get in a debate with him about it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    It's well written, but this book of essays is unhelpfullly short: good arguments aren't fleshed out enough to be really insightful and bad ones just hang there, desperately empty. It's well written, but this book of essays is unhelpfullly short: good arguments aren't fleshed out enough to be really insightful and bad ones just hang there, desperately empty.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Konstantinos Sapardanis

    If anybody is gonna make you ambivalent about the Iraq war, it's Christopher Hitchens If anybody is gonna make you ambivalent about the Iraq war, it's Christopher Hitchens

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

    Well written, makes one think. Thinking maybe Bush I SHOULD have finished the job in 1991. I wish I could use obscure references like Hitchens.

  23. 5 out of 5

    stew

    An annoyingly sound case made for altruism that makes little to no sense when cast in the reality it unfolded in.

  24. 4 out of 5

    tara

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/list...# https://www.goodreads.com/author/list...#

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kosar

    Hitchens wrote so smoothly---but in this short book he never seriously addressed...(read more) Hitchens wrote so smoothly---but in this short book he never seriously addressed...(read more)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Pike

  27. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Dunbar

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark Coffey

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