October 07, 2006

Hitchens vs Kissinger- again

As reported earlier on this blog and discussed on Professor Cutler's blog, Henry Kissinger has strolled back to the front of US foreign policy. Christopher Hitchens never Kissinger's greatest fan, has responded with typical clarity and anger here. Hitchens is wrong though to state that Kissinger and the neo-cons are direct opposites- far from being so they share an agenda but divide on its analysis, so that they both aim for stability but disagree about the way there. Their problem though is shared: both Kissinger and the neo-cons advance less through an understanding of a particular situation and what to do there than a broad and general theory about international life- consequently both of them run into problems misunderstanding phenomena such as third world nationalisms as commitments to a world war against the west whether communist or Islamist. Its by leaving the subtleties of the situation behind, that Kissinger and the neo cons risk making mistakes with their policies- failing to recognise the rhetorical traps of supporting democracies or the West in every situation without realising why and how the attacks on the West or democracies like Isreal and South Africa in the past take place. The world is not as simple as either Wolfowitz or Kissinger or indeed Hitchens understand and in the heat of the battle, they've lost sight of the field.

2 comments:

Cutler said...

Hitchens was so sure he was signing on for an "idealist" project when he set sail with Bush's adventure in Iraq.

He should have read Wurmser first to see how the current project was infused with Machiavellian realism.

Now with Kissinger as guest of honor at the captain's table, Hitchens should consider how much Kissinger's old tilt toward Iran was at the center of it all...

Gracchi said...

Yeah I agree Hitchens has miscalculated and the Kissinger evidence shows it.

Wurmser is fascinating, thanks for the link.

More broadly though I think Hitchens thinks in too few strokes of a broad brush- reading his stuff he opposes and supports people based upon those strokes hence Bush, hence Iraq but I think to continue my analogy he misses all the detail.

By the way I think Kissinger in a different way does the same thing... I'm not sure his policies will lead to stability