I have never been to Iraq, and I can’t act as a witness to anything there. Christopher Hitchens has been and can be, though, and I’d like to reproduce something he said for the record. History should not be rewritten as it has been.
Here he is talking to Peter Robinson on the Uncommon Knowledge program. This excerpt of the transcript has been revised by Norm Geras after he watched the video and corrected it.
Christopher Hitchens: The welcome that I’ve seen American and British forces get in parts of Iraq is something I want to start – I want to mention first because there are people who say that that never happened. It is commonly said by, umm, political philosophers like Maureen Dowd say that the – where were the sweets and where were the flowers? Well, I saw it happen with my own eyes and no one’s going to tell me that I didn’t. I saw it with – months after the invasion, people still lining the roads, especially in the south.
Peter Robinson: In the south?
Christopher Hitchens: Especially in the south – still lining the roads and waving and the children waving which is always the sign, because if the parents don’t want them to, they don’t. For miles, it was like going – it was like, this is the nearest I’ll get to taking part in the liberation of the country, to ride in with the liberating army. I’ll never forget, and I will not allow it not to be said that that did not happen. And in the marshes too – the marsh Arab area of the country which was drained and burned out and poisoned by Saddam Hussein. Again, almost hysterical welcome, and in Kurdistan in the north. So, extraordinary. But remember you said the population hated Saddam Hussein, that’s true, really true. But more than anything, they feared him. They were terrified of him. These are people who were not just forced to obey under terrible and believable threat, but made to applaud, made to participate, made to come out and vote, made to come out and demonstrate that they loved him, made to applaud when their relatives were executed. If your kids were going to be shot, you had to attend and you had to applaud…