The Left

Pay More Attention

How much would we have to bribe Her Majesty’s servants at passport control to keep Christopher Hitchens in the country?

While he has been over in the UK promoting his book he has appeared at debates and on radio shows forcefully arguing the case for regime change in Iraq and other progressive internationalist positions – we have heard more from ‘our side’ in the past week than at any time in the previous two years.

In a way it is a rather sad reflection of our media that they have only been able to discuss the left-wing case for liberation when an American based journalist with an acidic debating style turns up to flog his books – but it is still better than nothing.

The latest episode of the Hitchens tour was on Start the Week with Andrew Marr on Radio Four. A transcript of the Iraq related discussion is up on Labour Friends of Iraq (who Hitchens has been plugging regularly) and you can listen to the whole programme here.

Here is a little taste:

Germaine Greer – But the other extraordinary thing, is that it’s always our notion of democracy and you can’t invent a Party system which is recruited from the bottom up in a situation where it’s being imposed the way it is at present in Iraq.

William Shawcross – Oh come on! Nine million people, as Patrick said, have embraced this notion of democracy. It’s absurd to say ‘Oh it’s all relative and we can’t impose our version’.

Germaine Greer – Now hang on a minute, I’m not even saying that. I’m saying that the thing is, we have no notion of whether this is viable in the circumstances or not, and neither do the people who voted. The vote is one thing. What they had to vote for is quite another.

Christopher Hitchens – Germaine, can I just say very quickly, to the extent that you are right that there was international collusion in the rule of the Ba’ath party- and you are right to some extent – doesn’t that double our responsibility to cancel that debt to the Iraqis?

Germaine Greer – Oh! That’s a tricky way of thinking about it.

CH – What’s tricky about it?

Germaine Greer – I thought we agreed that this war wasn’t fought for regime change but now it turns out that it was and you knew all along. Well, the rest of us are a bit surprised.

Christopher Hitchens – Well, the rest of you should have been paying more attention.