Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. His most recent collection of essays is titled Love, Poverty, and War. Mr. Hitchens, longtime contributor to The Nation, wrote a wide-ranging, biweekly column for the magazine from 1982 to 2002. With trademark savage wit, he flattens hypocrisy inside the Beltway and around the world, laying bare the "permanent government" of entrenched powers and interests. Mr. Hitchens has been Washington editor of Harper's and book critic for Newsday, and regularly contributes to such publications as Granta, The London Review of Books, Vogue, New Left Review, Dissent and the Times Literary Supplement.
Born in 1949 in Portsmouth, England, Mr. Hitchens received a degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1970.
In this presentation Mr. Hitchens presents a "balance sheet" from point of view of those, like him, who advocated regime change in Iraq and hoped that it would have positive effects in Saudi Arabia and Iran as well. He presents areas where progress has not materialized, such as attempts to revive Iraq's badly damaged oil industry. However, he points out political progress made by Kurds in the north of Iraq, and growing pressure on the regimes of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Attempts to "dry up the swamp" where terrorism breeds have not eliminated but have isolated Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. He urges the international community to "make friends" with moderate forces in Muslim countries which reject terrorism, and to pursue policies that continue to isolate extremist groups.
A discussion period following the talk raised such questions as: Is there a secular democratic alternative to Hamas? In light of difficulties encountered in establishing democratic governance in Iraq, shouldn't there be a reassessment of the belief system that led to the Iraqi operation? What evidence can be found that Iraq was on the verge of collapse prior to the recent military intervention? How do the happenings in the Middle East translate into a policy regarding North Korea, which is vocal about acquiring weapons of mass destruction? With Saddam Hussein gone, can Iraq remain one country? Is there a risk that intervention in places like Iraq has a galvanizing effect on other enemy groups?