Me and Christopher Hitchens

by Kieran Healy on February 10, 2005

“Michael Totten”: recounts his night out with Christopher Hitchens and a couple of Iraqis that they talked to. Some of the latter weren’t too happy. Totten reflects:

bq. Maybe there was no way to avoid the tension wrought by invasion and occupation, and the air just had to be cleared. Perhaps our Iraqi guests … really didn’t (and don’t) completely understand how we differ from the colonialists and imperialists of the past.

He goes on to say that “Friendly Arabs are the easiest people to bond with I’ve ever met.” It’s the unfriendly ones that cause everyone such problems. And, he continues,

bq. I respected them more, too, because they stood up to me and Christopher Hitchens. They are not servile people. They will never, _ever_, be anyone’s puppets.

They’ve got spirit, the little buggers. Me ‘n’ Hitch are quite the team, but when you’re trying your best to tell them the way things are, they will be interrupting and getting annoyed and saying unreasonable things like “Who are you to tell us what to do!?” What’s that phrase again? “The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard.” But dissent is the lifeblood of democracy. Of course, we can’t permit them to pick the wrong government for themselves. “If the Iraqis were to elect either a Sunni or Shia Taliban, we would not let them take power” (Hitchens). The invasion force would consist of “the US and Britain … along with — hopefully — everyone here at this table” (Totten). Or, as Tom Lehrer put it “more succinctly”: some years ago, “They’ve got to be protected / All their rights respected / Till somebody we like can be elected.”

“Read the whole thing”: if you like. It’s full of small moments of whatever the opposite of an epiphany is. Like Hitchens’ schoolboy-debater habit of calling people “Sir” as he talks down at them (as in “So you’re saying, sir, that you can be bought”). Or Totten’s heartfelt comment that “Something I said must have got through to him, and thank God for that. He and I — truly — were on the same side. I knew it, and I’m pretty certain he knew it too.” Or Hitchens saying that he has to leave because “I have to get up in the morning and continue the fight on CNN.” Couldn’t have put it better myself, mate.

(Via “Jim Henley”:

Colin’s canal, again

by John Quiggin on February 10, 2005

Apologies to readers for the rather odd post below, which was meant for my own blog. Since people have made comments, I’ll leave it in place, and add a few notes of explanation. The post refers to a state election campaign in Western Australia, which the incumbent Labor government was, at the outset, expected to lose. A major issue in the campaign is the water supply problems facing Perth, the capital city where the great majority of the population lives. Issues include the traditional Australian ideology of developmentalism, and the role of public-private partnerships

My piece in today’s Australian Financial Review, over the fold, brings together arguments about the Kimberley canal project, which has been debated here on the blog on my blog. As usual, I got a lot out of all the comments, whether or not this is obvious in the published article. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the debate.

[click to continue…]

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

by Kieran Healy on February 10, 2005

Here’s a picture of a small part of Milford Sound, on New Zealand’s beautiful South Island. I took it when I was there about a year and a half ago. It was my laptop wallpaper for a while. All this is really apropos of nothing, but I can’t look at that “tentacle mole”: any more. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.