Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hitch v. Tariq

A worthwhile joint interview between Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ali. As is usual in such affairs, they mainly talk past each other, but they touch on a key issue: is the insurgency in Iraq basically reducible to the Islamist theocrats of Zarqawi, or is it a nationalist insurgency?

To reduce each of their positions to a single phrase, Ali claims that the "Iraqi people don't like being occupied. They may have loathed Saddam, but they don't like being occupied by the United States." By contrast, Hitchens claims that "this is an enemy across the globe and in our own society, there is no possibility of surrender with it or of negotiation with it."

That strikes me as, indeed, the fundamental debate at this point in Iraq.

It won't surprise you which side I come down on. Let me just say that Hitch might do well to remind himself of the old Tip O'Neil rule: "all politics is local."

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