Glenn Greenwald assesses Christopher Hitchen’s legacy in regards to his support of the Iraq war:
Nobody should have to silently watch someone with this history be converted into some sort of universally beloved literary saint. To enshrine him as worthy of unalloyed admiration is to insist that these actions were either themselves commendable or, at worst, insignificant. Nobody who writes about politics for decades will be entirely free of serious error, but how serious the error is, whether it reflects on their character, and whether they came to regret it, are all vital parts of honestly describing and assessing their work. To demand its exclusion is an act of dishonesty.
It is obviously sad that a great mind has passed, but it is important that Hitchens should not be deified. While an important voice in intellectual circles, it should be remembered that he supported an illegal and immoral war that killed hundreds of thousands of people and has resulted in the destruction and destabilzation of an entire region.
Hitchens failed on all accounts to justify his support for the war in Iraq, and he bore responsibility for selling it to the public. Hitchens joined the neocons in their deisre to project American power in the Middle East and provided the logic for an invasion that has resulted in almost incomprehensible bloodshed.
My own thoughts on Hitchens are not complimentary to say the least. I always viewed him as a shameless self promoter who was mostly interested in selling books than providing intellectually honest analysis. I certainly respect his intellect, but disagreed with how he used it. Hitchens was pro war when it was popular, and quickly dropped the subject when it became unpopular, focusing on religion as a way to keep himself relevant in public discourse. While Hitchens was entertaining and interesting, he was at the end of the day a shill for the neo cons, and his role in promoting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are unforgivable sins (particularly since he never accepted responsibility for them).
Hitchens will rightly be missed, but let us not forget the carnage he helped create. It is as much a part of his legacy as his extraordinary intellect – no more and no less.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.