Did I ever tell you that I get all my material from talk radio? But I digress ...
To set this up, apparently Ron Reagan wanted to make the point that the War in Iraq was a "diversion" in the War on Militant Islam. And he wished to make this point with Hitchens, a Brit fluent in the English language, and right after the London bombings of last week. Poor planning.
And, please be advised that it was much better when this verbal whipping was delivered in Hitchens' beautiful British accent, but here is the excerpt from the interview:
RR: Christopher, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that these attacks are a sign that we're actually winning the war on terror. I mean, how many more victories like this do we really want to endure?A few observations, in light of the foregoing: 1) So, is Hitchens, the liberal icon and writer for The Nation, just a shill for the Bush Administration, too?; 2) Even though few people bother to watch MSNBC, the beauty of the new media is that we can see circus acts such as Reagan's that we would otherwise be deprived of; 3) we need to do a better job of describing the breadth of the war we are engaged in, and the enemy ... and do it, at every available opportunity and 4) the Left won't listen/read any of the foregoing and change, because Bush lied. I mean ... he lied. He is evil, man!!
CH: Well, it depends on how you think it started, sir. I mean, these movements had taken over Afghanistan, had very nearly taken over Algeria, in a extremely bloody war which actually was eventually won by Algerian society. They had sent death squads to try and kill my friend Salman Rushdie, for the offense of writing a novel in England. They had sent death squads to Austria and Germany, the Iranians had, for example, to try and kill Kurdish Muslim leaders there. If you make the mistake that I thought I heard you making just before we came on the air, of attributing rationality or a motive to this, and to say that it's about anything but itself, you make a great mistake, and you end up where you ended up, saying that the cause of terrorism is fighting against it, the root cause, I mean. Now, you even said, extraordinarily to me, that there was no terrorist problem in Iraq before 2003. Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?
RR: Well, I'm following the lead of the 9/11 Commission, which...
CH: Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal, the most wanted man in the world, who was sheltered in Baghdad? The man who pushed Leon Klinghoffer off the boat, was sheltered by Saddam Hussein. The man who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993 was sheltered by Saddam Hussein, and you have the nerve to say that terrorism is caused by resisting it? And by deposing governments that endorse it?
RR: No, actually, I didn't say that, Christopher.
CH: At this stage, after what happened in London yesterday?
RR: What I did say, though, was that Iraq was not a center of terrorism before we went in there, but it might be now.
CH: How can you know so little about...
RR: You can make the claim that you just made about any other country in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
CH: Absolutely nonsense.
RR: So do you think we ought to invade Saudi Arabia, where most of the hijackers from 9/11 came from, following your logic, Christopher?
CH: Uh, no. Excuse me. The hijackers may have been Saudi and Yemeni, but they were not envoys of the Saudi Arabian government, even when you said the worst...
RR: Zarqawi is not an envoy of Saddam Hussein, either.
CH: Excuse me. When I went to interview Abu Nidal, then the most wanted terrorist in the world, in Baghdad, he was operating out of an Iraqi government office. He was an arm of the Iraqi State, while being the most wanted man in the world. The same is true of the shelter and safe house offered by the Iraqi government, to the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer, and to Mr. Yassin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. How can you know so little about this, and be occupying a chair at the time that you do?
RR: I guess because I listen to the 9/11 Commission, and read their report, and they said that Saddam Hussein was not exporting terror. I suppose that's how, Christopher.
CH: Well, then they were wrong, weren't they?
RR: No, maybe they just needed to listen to you, Christopher.
CH; Well, I'm not sure that they actually did say that. What they did say was they didn't know of any actual operational connection...
RR: That's right. No substantive operational connection.
CH: ...which was the Iraqi Baath Party and...excuse me...and Al Qaeda. A direct operational connection. Now, that's because they don't know. They don't say there isn't one. They say they couldn't find one. But I just gave you the number, I would have thought, rather suggestive examples.
Update: This post, along with a number of others, is part of Rick Moran's always-interesting "Carnival of the Clueless". Lefties stop your cheering ... the clueless one referenced here is your own beloved Reagan. And yes, to whoever had that great idea, he should be required to change his name. I was thinking Ron Goomba. No, that won't work. How about Ron Franken? Ron Moore? Da-Doo-Ron-Ron? I don't know ... anything but Ron Reagan.
Programming Note: Okay, still working on the next thrilling episode of "Burglars in the Neighborhood". Stay tuned ...