Jules Crittenden spots “Good Stuff Done” by “he who must not be named or even indirectly referenced. Not without dismissive derision”:
Christopher Hitchens, who was for liberating Iraq before he was for the guy who wanted to abandon it, comes out for the liberation of Iraq and subsequent elections there as the inspiration for the pro-democracy movement in Iran.
Hey, whose idea was all that? Don’t worry, you can get through this Hitchens article at Slate without having that shoved in your face:
Did the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime, and the subsequent holding of competitive elections in which many rival Iraqi Shiite parties took part, have any germinal influence on the astonishing events in Iran? Certainly when I interviewed Sayeed Khomeini in Qum some years ago, where he spoke openly about “the liberation of Iraq,” he seemed to hope and believe that the example would spread. One swallow does not make a summer. But consider this: Many Iranians go as religious pilgrims to the holy sites of Najaf and Kerbala in southern Iraq. They have seen the way in which national and local elections have been held, more or less fairly and openly, with different Iraqi Shiite parties having to bid for votes (and with those parties aligned with Iran’s regime doing less and less well). They have seen an often turbulent Iraqi Parliament holding genuine debates that are reported with reasonable fairness in the Iraqi media. Meanwhile, an Iranian mullah caste that classifies its own people as children who are mere wards of the state puts on a “let’s pretend” election and even then tries to fix the outcome. Iranians by no means like to take their tune from Arabs—perhaps least of all from Iraqis—but watching something like the real thing next door may well have increased the appetite for the genuine article in Iran itself.
The whole article includes a lot of inside Qom baseball, which is as interesting and enlightening as we’d expect of Hitchens, though I can’t help but suspect it serves another purpose. Because what is fascinating is how Hitchens manages to get through the article without mentioning who brought democracy to the Middle East at such great cost. Maybe Hitchens feels it is important not to alienate much of his audience by naming he who must not be named without the prerequisite dismissive derision.
On the other hand, as another revolutionary leader who endured his own phase of being HWMNBN shortly after leaving office has been quoted as saying, “There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
Related thoughts from Austin Bay here.
Update: Events Witnessed.