November 16, 2004

Hitchens on Kissinger

Vanity Fair has finally decided to publish at least one of Christopher Hitchens’ essays online. It’s a rip-roaring barn-burner about Henry Kissinger’s complicity in Latin American fascism. (I do not use the word lightly. If the shoe fits, and in this case it does, the swaggering generals will wear it. Read the whole article if you think I'm off-base.)

Gene over at Harry’s Place says:
I expect Hitchens's rightwing cheering section will be more subdued about this piece than they have been about his attacks on the antiwar Left. If they acknowledge it at all, that is.
Since I am not exactly a member of Hitchens’ newfound right-wing cheering section (I’ve been a fan of his for almost a decade, back when both of us were lefties) the fact that I both acknowledge and endorse his latest piece probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. But for whatever it is worth, count me as one person who is not on the left who strongly suggests you read it. To whet your appetite, here’s a powerful preview.
Sometimes, in spite of its stolid, boring commitment to lying, a despotic regime will actually tell you all you need to know. It invents a titanic system of slave-labor camps, for example, and it gives this network of arid, landlocked isolation centers the beautiful anagram of gulag. (Adding the word “archipelago” to that piece of bureaucratic compression was the work of an aesthetic and moral genius.) The stone-faced morons who run the military junta in Burma used to call themselves slorc (State Law and Order Restoration Council), which was hardly less revealing. The Brezhnev occupation regime, imposed on the romantic city of Prague after the invasion of 1968, proclaimed its aim as “normalization”: a word eloquent enough in itself to send every writer and artist either hastening across the border or entering “internal exile.” The British colonial official who thought up the term “concentration camp” (because, after all, the discontented Boer families of South Africa needed to be “concentrated” somewhere, if only for their own good) was an innocent pioneer of this lethal and revealing euphemism. In the end, the mask will grow to fit the monstrous face that lies underneath.

A possible exception to this is the word desaparecido, which was the special new expression that was added to the bulging, ugly lexicon of terror and dictatorship in the 1970s. In English, it simply means “the one who has disappeared.” But when pronounced in Spanish it possesses, at least to my ear, a much more plaintive and musical tone. It's as if you could hear the lost ones crying out, still. It has an awful, lingering attractiveness to it, which becomes chilly and almost pornographic when you reflect how long and how loudly they were made to scream before they were dispatched, and buried like offal or garbage.

Read the whole thing, please.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2004 6:23 PM

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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
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