He and I argued a lot about the war. We had both supported it, but as Iraq disintegrated, my criticisms of the policy struck him as weak-kneed and opportunistic, an effort to curry favor with bien-pensant liberals. In turn, his brave talk of sticking by his “comrades” in Baghdad rang false to me. Who were they, after all? Exiled politicians whose sectarian agendas helped take Iraq into a terrible civil war. The only comrades worthy of the name that I knew were those who had risked their lives for the American effort—the Iraqis who were betrayed by Bush, and have been betrayed again by Obama.Iraq led Hitchens to some of his worst indulgences—the propaganda trip to Iraq in Wolfowitz’s entourage, the pose of Byronic heroism. But perhaps the war and the enemies it made him helped give Hitchens the courage of his last years and months—the atheist in the foxhole. Hitchens was one of the very few people who could slash and burn you in print, then meet for drinks and talk in the true warmth of friendship, discussing a writer we both admired, garrulous to the very last. It was a sign of his essential decency that he didn’t make it personal.
Note to the politically religious: This is not about the Iraq War and its attendant complications. So save those comments for some other blog.