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The Left and Totalitarianism
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From a recent interview with Christopher Hitchens:

Hitchens: The president, or some of his advisers, are right on the main point, which is "if you try and change our regime, we'll change yours. We can do it and you can't, and your people will be better off and ours wouldn't have been." This is a no-brainer to me. I believed that before Bush did, as a matter-of-fact. Bush ran against Gore, against nation-building and for isolationism, for point-of-fact. I welcome Mr. Bush's adherence, really. But for the left, so-called, if they had been listened to in their majority, Bosnia would be part of greater Serbia, Kosovo would be a wilderness with ethnic cleansing, the Taliban would still be in charge of Afghanistan, Iraq would still be the private property of Saddam Hussein's family. This is a record not to be proud of. It's a very conservative record; it's a reactionary record. And they would take that as fine, by the way, as long as it was a status quo that denied credit to George Bush.

Whitney: So you would consider then supporting the war in Iraq a properly leftist position?

Hitchens: Yes, I think it's the only one. The leftist position is that co-existence with totalitarian dictatorship is undesirable and impossible. That's the principle position. That is, or should be the left position. It used to be.

It seems to me that since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the most important ideological struggle left is the one Hitchens refers to: the conflict between democratic nations and totalitarian ones.

Diplomatic pressure should be applied to all totalitarian regimes to reform (including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.). Those that continually defy international standards of human rights and banned weapons capabilities should be dealt with via force as a last resort.

I often hear criticism of U.S. foreign policy for "propping up" dictators. I've heard criticism of the U.S. for providing food aid to Afghanistan before the war. But the options are essentially to either:

--take an isolationist stance and ignore noxious regimes
--engage diplomatically and economically with them
--confront them

And in fact, U.S. policy takes all three stances, depending on the country. But when dealing with the most noxious regimes, the third choice definitely seems the most appropriate.

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