Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Christopher Hitchens' Alternative Universe

I must have missed it when Christopher Hitchens announced he could see the future. Here he is today in Slate, writing about the War in Iraq -- in his view, really three wars, two of which we are winning -- and why he rejects the idea of partition:

This subconflict—or these subconflicts—makes it hard to accept the proposal made by some U.S. politicians and pundits to the effect that the country should be partitioned along ethnic and religious lines. In that event, we would quite probably not end up with three neatly demarcated mini-states, one each in a three-way split among Sunni Arab, Shiite, and Kurd. Instead, there could be partitions within the partition, with Iran and Saudi Arabia becoming patrons of their favorite proxies and, in the meantime, a huge impetus given to the "cleansing" of hitherto-mixed cities and provinces. (This, by the way, as I never tire of saying, is what would have happened to Iraq when Saddam's regime collapsed and the country became prey to neighboring states and to the consequences of 30 years of "divide and rule" politics.)

There's a reason Hitch never tires of saying this: it's unfalsifiable. You can't disprove an unknowable hypothesis about a future we will never experience because of choices we've made today. Perhaps more importantly, the implied premise underlying this "defense" of the Iraq War is that we've somehow saved it from this fate. We haven't. As soon as we leave, you can bet Iraq will become prey to neighboring states and the consequences of 30 years of divide-and-rule politics. The only difference is that the lives of 3,732 American soldiers, and $450 billion in U.S. dollars, have been spent in a futile attempt to prevent Iraq from collapsing.


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