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Christopher Hitchens' Eight-Point Plan
In his review of Mark Steyn's book in City Journal, he offers these eight points for "facing the Islamist menace":

1. An end to one-way multiculturalism and to the cultural masochism that goes with it. The Koran does not mandate the wearing of veils or genital mutilation, and until recently only those who apostasized from Islam faced the threat of punishment by death. Now, though, all manner of antisocial practices find themselves validated in the name of religion, and mullahs have begun to issue threats even against non-Muslims for criticism of Islam. This creeping Islamism must cease at once, and those responsible must feel the full weight of the law. Meanwhile, we should insist on reciprocity at all times. We should not allow a single Saudi dollar to pay for propaganda within the U.S., for example, until Saudi Arabia also permits Jewish and Christian and secular practices. No Wahhabi-printed Korans anywhere in our prison system. No Salafist imams in our armed forces.

2. A strong, open alliance with India on all fronts, from the military to the political and economic, backed by an extensive cultural exchange program, to demonstrate solidarity with the other great multiethnic democracy under attack from Muslim fascism. A hugely enlarged quota for qualified Indian immigrants and a reduction in quotas from Pakistan and other nations where fundamentalism dominates.

3. A similarly forward approach to Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the other countries of Western Africa that are under attack by jihadists and are also the location of vast potential oil reserves, whose proper development could help emancipate the local populations from poverty and ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

4. A declaration at the UN of our solidarity with the right of the Kurdish people of Iraq and elsewhere to self-determination as well as a further declaration by Congress that in no circumstance will Muslim forces who have fought on our side, from the Kurds to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, find themselves friendless, unarmed, or abandoned. Partition in Iraq would be defeat under another name (and as with past partitions, would lead to yet further partitions and micro-wars over these very subdivisions). But if it has to come, we cannot even consider abandoning the one part of the country that did seize the opportunity of modernization, development, and democracy.

5. Energetic support for all the opposition forces in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora. A public offer from the United States, disseminated widely in the Persian language, of help for a reformed Iran on all matters, including peaceful nuclear energy, and of assistance in protecting Iran from the catastrophic earthquake that seismologists predict in its immediate future. Millions of lives might be lost in a few moments, and we would also have to worry about the fate of secret underground nuclear facilities. When a quake leveled the Iranian city of Bam three years ago, the performance of American rescue teams was so impressive that their popularity embarrassed the regime. Iran’s neighbors would need to pay attention, too: a crisis in Iran’s nuclear underground facilities—an Iranian Chernobyl—would not be an internal affair. These concerns might help shift the currently ossified terms of the argument and put us again on the side of an internal reform movement within Iran and its large and talented diaspora.

6. Unconditional solidarity, backed with force and the relevant UN resolutions, with an independent and multi-confessional Lebanon.

7. A commitment to buy Afghanistan’s opium crop and to keep the profits out of the hands of the warlords and Talibanists, until such time as the country’s agriculture— especially its once-famous vines—has been replanted and restored. We can use the product in the interim for the manufacture of much-needed analgesics for our own market and apply the profits to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

8. We should, of course, be scrupulous on principle about stirring up interethnic tensions. But we should remind those states that are less scrupulous—Iran, Pakistan, and Syria swiftly come to mind—that we know that they, too, have restless minorities and that they should not make trouble in Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Iraq without bearing this in mind. Some years ago, the Pakistani government announced that it would break the international embargo on the unrecognized and illegal Turkish separatist state in Cyprus and would appoint an ambassador to it, out of “Islamic solidarity.” Cyprus is a small democracy with no armed forces to speak of, but its then–foreign minister told me the following story. He sought a meeting with the Pakistani authorities and told them privately that if they recognized the breakaway Turkish colony, his government would immediately supply funds and arms to one of the secessionist movements—such as the Baluchis—within Pakistan itself. Pakistan never appointed an ambassador to Turkish Cyprus.

Posted by aalkon at May 8, 2007 11:18 AM


The striking thing about that list is how optimistic it all is. Hitchens is really taking his can-do American citizenship to heart.

The bit about the upcoming earthquake in Iran was interesting too, especially about how the United States had humiliated them in responding well to Bam a few years ago... Who knew? (I thought the Israelis had done that by themselves through generous offers of assistance.) The USA basically shook off the Katrina devastation; it was an incidental component of our 2005 economy, and nobody much cares about the loss of a jewel city that had shone brightly in our nation's youth. But we're told the Kobe quake of '95 deeply challenged Japanese self-assuredness.

See also...

...which suggests that Steyn's take on things Over There is now conventional wisdom.

And listen, I'm not one of those guys who thinks Sarkozy needs to pat us on the back for being such helpful fellows a generation or three ago. But it's amazing that you can read an article like Laqueur's and imagine that the European resurrection and near-socialist comforts that followed were the product of Continental fortitude. I think the American taxpayer (and soldier) deserves recognition --maybe not credit, maybe not even gratitude, but recognition-- for making the miracle happen. We supervised the legal and governmental policies that set aside wartime grievance; we covered much of the reconstruction by writing a check; we kept them from squabbling with each other; and perhaps most importantly, we kept Ivan out of sight. It would be tragic if people thought that generation of nearly-perfect safety had been a product of the continent's interior excellence. I don't think it was.

Posted by: Crid at May 8, 2007 1:31 AM

The American soldier definitely deserves recognition -- credit even. If you're over there, check out the American cemetery in Normandy. Very moving.

I noted this from the Laqueur piece you linked:

Many of the immigrants today live in societies separate from those of their host countries. That is true in big cities and small. The new immigrants have no German or British or French friends. Their preachers tell them that their values and traditions are greatly superior to those of the infidels, and that any contact, even with neighbors, is undesirable. Their young people complain about being excluded, but their social and cultural separateness is quite often voluntary. Western European governments and societies are often criticized for not having done more to integrate the new citizens. But even if they had done much more, is it certain that integration would have succeeded?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 8, 2007 4:52 AM

I agree, Crid. Time Magazine was debating on who would be Man of the Century in 1999. In the final 5 choices, one of them was the American G.I. Too bad they went with Albert Einstein.

As Hitchens pointed out in the past about the USA being the only nation with a Bill of Rights. Well, this lack of constitutional liberties may have an advantage with various European nations dealing with troublesome immigrant populations of a certain religious persuasion.

Posted by: Joe at May 8, 2007 6:08 AM

"Their young people complain about being excluded, but their social and cultural separateness is quite often voluntary."

Akira is the fever dream of all angry young men. I think the only real way to tame Sam Huntington's youth bulge (no smirks) is to subsidize the flooding of at-risk regions with the latest pumpin' video games. Keep those angry undersexed 15-34 year-olds occupied in a way we know works.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at May 8, 2007 8:15 AM

If we're going to appeal to youthful, twitchy biology, we should go straight for the genitalia. The fantasies engendered by video games can claim any target... Bleedin' guts is bleedin' guts. 9/11 suggests that irony that an Arab immigrant ought to feel for using Western technology on Western targets doesn't act as much of a break.

But if you want to bang Britney or Shakira or get seduced by Justin by Kanye like in that one music video, you're going to have to learn a little bit more about their lives.

One of the best things I've ever read since blogs came about was this, by Reynolds:

I love this for two reasons. First, I think it's true, because it explains a lot. Secondly, it excuses the tremendous silliness of all those rock n' roll posters in my own teenage bedroom. I was being drained of fascist enthusiasm, and didn't even know it.

Even with youthful anger, Arab/Muslim immigrants in Europe are useless without leadership (at least beyond burning a few thousand cars each year, which the French seem inexplicably unconcerned about). This problem can be decapitated.

My money's on rock n' roll. It worked for me, it'll work for them.

Posted by: Crid at May 8, 2007 9:20 AM

Brake, not break.

Posted by: Crid at May 8, 2007 9:23 AM

One more... The "Berlin" link in the Reynolds piece is broken but worth tracking through Wayback.

That's not a burqa crowd... It's all about the women and the gays.

Posted by: Crid at May 8, 2007 9:30 AM

I've seen some interesting trends in Saudi Arabia back in 2003. Urban style graffiti on buildings. Non Islamic graffiti in particular. Expressions of youthful anger and angst, especially towards the Mutaween. Or personal signatures of the budding artists. It wasn’t as bold or located in front of buildings, but found in the corners.

Well, it is a start.

Posted by: Joe at May 8, 2007 9:59 AM

My money's on rock n' roll. It worked for me, it'll work for them.

If the young people of Muslim heritage aren't swayed by the allure of sex, drugs and music (of which the now-defunct Berlin Love Parade that Crid linked to was almost certainly the epitome), they're a more stalwart bunch than any I know. Western decadence will likely peel off a bunch of the younger generation, but will also leave behind a core of frustrated fundamentalist nutters more than happy to cause trouble in the name of Islam.

Posted by: justin case at May 8, 2007 12:03 PM

If they got no further than Robertson has, would you call it victory?

Posted by: Crid at May 8, 2007 12:10 PM

If they got no further than Robertson has, would you call it victory?

I'd take it.

Posted by: justin case at May 8, 2007 12:31 PM

Coward! Betrayer! Yellabelly! Turncoat!


Posted by: Crid at May 8, 2007 12:37 PM

In my experience, the pile of corpses generated by videogames is so heavily outweighed by the pile of pissed-off girlfriends I think it would be the perfect methadone for terrorism. Besides, in culture that is so heavily inoculated against sex you'll never get enough illicit ussypay through the front door to rock the Casbah. But a violence-coated pill? You're practically pissing on the Koran if you don't go for high score in Battlefield 2.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at May 8, 2007 1:49 PM

"An end to one-way multiculturalism and to the cultural masochism that goes with it."

In "The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality," Walter Benn Michaels argues that we need to stop thinking of religions as "cultures" that need to be respected automatically, and to instead think of them as belief systems that, like all belief systems, are subject to critical analysis. Highly recommended summer reading for brainy non-partisans!

Posted by: The Trouble with Lena Cuisina: The penis grew back. at May 8, 2007 6:22 PM

Paul & Lena- Hitch Week is almost over! I finished the book. It was kinda dull and book-y. This guy's best entertainment comes from the lectern and the interview. Here's one more bit reflecting on this issue:

I maintain that if the islamic/arab culture is permeable enough to let violent videogames into immigrant homes, it's porous enough to let in pornographic music too. I don't understand why people want to look at these fundamentalist cultures and presume the souls within are unredeemable, i.e. incorruptible.

This is the confusion I felt before the war when people were arguing that Iraqis liked being oppressed by Saddam, as that was their core nature. It seems like racism without a race to hang its hat on. People seem eager to think of these people as space monsters from another galaxy. But as Hitch notes, the ones making trouble aren't sophisticated geniuses.... Those guys are in the Silicon Valley. London is hosting provincial Pakistanis. Like Paris, it's being overrun with hillbillies.

The whole point of Hollywood is to make something so cheap and trivial and alluring that it can't be resisted... It's only a movie ticket, after all. (I'm proud to work here. We're doing the Lord's work!) When Tinseltown hucksterism reached with tentacled charms into our own Appalachian holler, it extracted Dolly Parton. Which worked out well for everyone, right? I don't see why this can't be made to happen for these new arrivals.

Anyway, Hitch is right: This is all about women.

And Lena, I haven't looked it up in Salon yet, but Hitchens says he convinced Sontag to recant her 9/12 editorials. This makes me think better of her, him and you!

Posted by: Crid at May 9, 2007 10:31 AM


Before reading Hitch's book, have you read Middlemarch before?

Posted by: Joe at May 9, 2007 11:19 AM


Before reading Hitch's book, have you read Middlemarch?

Posted by: Joe at May 9, 2007 11:20 AM

Joe- No, I never went in for booklearnin' much. Big Ten Edjumacation, 2.5gpa. The Hitchens book gets boring when he starts rummaging through all the specific events and fables that made faith such an intolerable course of study years ago. His critiques may hold, or may not. But he's like reading Keegan about war: His knowledge is so encyclopedic and his references so offhand that it's impossible to track him. But from what I can make out, the Jack Miles review makes a good point: "Its weakness is that the thinking in it has indeed oft been thought."

Middlemarch or Eliot: Which to read first?

Posted by: Crid at May 9, 2007 12:03 PM

Lena- (Separate comment to allow another link):

I'm not trying to pick a fresh fight over a six-year-old bitchslap. I'm just really pleased that she was given Fresh Religion just a couple weeks after her impulsive tumble from grace, and with months yet to go before her death. Cancer meds inebriate: I've seen it happen. As we know, Hitch is immune to drunken confusion, and I'm glad he was there to straighten her out. A lot of people I like like Sontag.

Posted by: Crid at May 9, 2007 12:06 PM

You could rent the BBC's version of Middlemarch on DVD or wait for Sam Mendes' big screen version in 2008 or 2009.

One of my friends also bought God Is Not Great and I warned her about Hitchen's use of Middlemarch. My advice was for her to read the novel, cliff notes or rent the DVD before tackling Hitch's book.

The 3 big bestsellers on atheism were each different based on various styles. Sam Harris is more philosophical. Dawkins is scientific and Hitchens will debate religion with a literary mind.

Posted by: Joe at May 9, 2007 1:01 PM

I'm glad you think better of me, Cridster, but I never thought much of Sontag's political writings anyway (though her son David Rieff is very good). I liked her work on art (eg, "Styles of Radical Will") when I was a teenager. I still very much admire her arguments in "Illness as Metaphor" and "AIDS and Its Metaphors." But there's probably no novel more dreary and disposable than "The Volcano Lover." Reading that one was about as much fun as picking a scab. Though she gets extra credit for using the word "vulpine"! The only other writer ever to use that, as far as I know, is Claire Messud in "The Emperor's Children."

Now that I've finished trying to come off as incredibly well read, I'm going to stumble out into this very smoky Los Angeles evening for a slice of pizza.

Posted by: Lena at May 9, 2007 5:56 PM

Joe- OK, I get it, Middlemarch is Eliot. Character descriptions on Wikipedia suggest that it might be a bit of a slog...

"...he hopes to make great advancements in medicine through his research and the charity hospital in Middlemarch. He ends up entangled with Rosamond Vincy, and they marry. His pride and attempts to show that he is not answerable to any man end up backfiring and he...."

Hold placed at LAPL nonetheless.

Lena- LA disasters are a lot of fun until someone gets hurt. I was divorced and mopey here in the early 90's, but the real-life noir-y events just kept on a-comin'. Quakes and floods and fires and riots and OJ and collapsing industries... So there was always something convenient to talk about with strangers at parties.

Posted by: Crid at May 9, 2007 6:59 PM

More wiki fun!

"V. S. Pritchett wrote, "No Victorian novel approaches Middlemarch in its width of reference, its intellectual power, or the imperturbable spaciousness of its narrative ..."

Who doesn't love imperturbable spaciousness in a novel's narrative? Nobody... We all do! We want spacious narratives. In fact we demand them! And when they're imperturbable, so much the better!

Knowutimean, Jelly Bean? Every weekend, forests are felled so that the LAT and the NYT can write wackjob reviews of fiction that are made from the same insane copy that you find in a fashion magazine. It's all about affect. White people love photographs of the pooty-pout faces of Joyce Carol Oates and Joan Didion for this same reason.

Posted by: Crid at May 9, 2007 7:21 PM

There's a character in Lorrie Moore's first novel "Anagrams" -- a somewhat overweight college English professor in her early 30s with a strong aversion to physical activity -- who'd sit in outdoor cafes in the East Village and yell at the passing joggers, "Go home and read Middlemarch!" I adore bookish fag hags.

FYI, Crid: Some white people don't dote over photos of Joan Didion, especially in 2006. Have you seen what's become of her? Amy referred to her recently as "a raisin with legs."

I have to get on a plane in a week (yuck), and I plan on reading "The Bookseller of Kabul." Yes, I'm a latte-drinking liberal.

Posted by: Lena at May 9, 2007 10:22 PM

> Some white people don't dote
> over photos of Joan Didion

Then why do they keep printing them? Why whywhywhywhyw

Posted by: Crid at May 9, 2007 11:18 PM

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