Hitchens's Pain Over Iraq

Hitchens's Pain Over Iraq April 21, 2012

One of the darkest stains on Christopher Hitchens’s legacy is his support for the Iraq War. Andrew Sullivan, a close friend of Hitchens who also mistakenly supported the war, attended a memorial service for him and reported back:

[Martin] Amis spoke of Christopher’s private struggle with his embrace of the Iraq war. He never recanted as I did. Indeed, one of our more heated recent chats was over his enthusiasm for a new war against Iran. But the idea that he did not feel the pain of isolation, of misjudgment, that this humane man was immune to the suffering that this horrifying war entailed for so many innocents, and took no personal responsibility for it, is untrue. He told Martin that in the period when the war was at its worst, he was in a “world of pain.” Being a contrary public writer, being prepared to lose friends over principle, challenging one’s own “side”, and forever braced for battle, takes a toll. Hitch bore it with great aplomb. That does not mean he had nothing to bear.

And despite Sullivan’s Christianity, he expressed some sincere appreciation for the value of Hitchens’s attack on religion:

Of course, I do not believe Hitch has disappeared from reality. But even if he has, his example raises all our standards, and begs for us to follow him in slaying sacred cows with wit and merciless accuracy. He inspired love in so many for one reason. He was true to himself, and he loved the world. And what was so truly moving about his final years – especially in his campaign against religion – was how much, how overwhelmingly, so many who never even met him loved him, and I mean loved him, back.

Read more, including Hitchens’s last words.

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