Monday, November 14, 2005

The Unintentional Irony of Christopher Hitchens

On Monday, November 7th Christopher Hitchens, author for Slate and Vanity Fair, wrote this article supporting intervention in Sudan. (http://www.slate.com/id/2129657/nav/tap2/) Mr. Hitchens is in a rare class with me. I disagree with almost everything he writes yet I somehow look forward to reading his articles. He’s an advocate of the decision to invade Iraq and a defender of unilateralism. Still, he makes his case with a thoughtful logic and careful reasoning I have to applaud even if I think every single conclusion he reaches is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Honestly though, on the rare occasions where I agree with him I smile a little inside, or I would were the matters of slightly less gravity. The Sudan is no exception.

For those who wish to skip to the meat of Mr. Hitchen’s article, I’ll sum up the situation. There’s a slow motion genocide going on in Sudan and everyone in the international community is sitting back and watching. Oh, there are some negotiations going on, but that’s just buying time for the strongmen to finish their work. He supports intervention in Sudan to save the victims, even if it must be unilateral. Lest anyone think I’m a complete “dove,” I agree.

The sad irony of the mater is, because of decisions made by this administration, decisions Mr. Hitchens supported, and I presume still supports, we’re not in a position where we can intervene in Sudan. In case anyone missed it, we’re already occupying two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) on top of bases in 144 countries and territories around the world we need to man. Beyond that we need to maintain a sufficient garrison to defend ourselves in the event of an attack. In short, the war in Iraq, has exhausted our excess man power. Think about it, if we had sufficient active-duty military, why would we be using reservists in Iraq? (http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Galloway_012204,00.html) Militarily we’re over extended, even intellectual conservatives acknowledge this. (http://www.intellectualconservative.com/article2782.html)

Beyond that, there’s a simple reality. War costs money. The debt and the deficit are both at record highs and growing. Iraq has cost us $200 billion and counting. (http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182) Financially, we’re over extended.

The sad truth is, we don’t have the bodies or the money to stop the genocide in Sudan that Mr. Hitchens wants us to stop because we’re fighting a war in Iraq Mr. Hitchens wants us to fight. He seems to forget that even the U.S. must face the horrors of opportunity costs and part of the opportunity cost for Iraq was that innocents must die in Sudan.

But the point is not that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. That’s moot. We’re there now, that debate is over. It was the wrong decision and now we need to deal. The point is, when we again have the opportunity to invade another country without clear, present, and immediate danger to the lives of American or the lives of innocent people, and one day we will, maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t. As the Sudan shows, the cost may be higher than we expect.