INTRODUCTION: On September 23rd of 2008, the straight-talking political commentator Christopher Hitchens was in Montreal and he delivered a speech on the Future of Europe at the Club 357c Speakers Series. In this article, his short biography, his famous book on the God is not Great, his views on the future of Europe as related to the recent Russian military strike in Georgia and to the Islamic question, and his notes on a nuclear-armed Iran will be presented and reviewed.
HIS BIO: Christopher Eric Hitchens, born on 13 April 1949, is an English-born American author and a literary critic. Currently living in Washington DC, he has been a columnist at Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, and Free Inquiry. Hitchens is also a political observer, whose best-selling book, the latest being God is not Great, have made him a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he calls "islamic fundamentalism". He is known for his ardent admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Clinton. He was recently made a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.
HIS FAMOUS BOOK: In the book of God is not Great, Hitchens contends that religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children". Hitchens' main arguments for his points include a combination of personal stories, documented historical anecdotes and critical analysis of religious texts. It should be also noted that his commentary focuses mainly on the Abraham religions, although he discusses other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism as well.
HIS VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE AS RELATED TO RUSSIA: In his speech on the Future of Europe, Hitchens said that, "The recent Russian military strike in Georgia has suddenly shown Moscow to be as big a wild card in Europe's political future as the question of whether or not European countries will make a place for Shari law". In a wide-ranging interview with the Gazette writer, D. Johnston, and before his speech in Montreal on the Future of Europe, Hitchens said that, Preoccupation with the political implications of rising Muslim populations in Europe has been overshadowed in recent weeks by the apparent rebirth of Russian imperialism
HIS VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE AS RELATED TO THE ISLAMIC QUESTION: "This Islamic question has been eclipsed by the very sudden realization that the Russians were not just wasting or biding their time over the last 10 years, but under (leader Vladimir Putin) were waiting until they were strong enough to announce their intentions, which they have suddenly done in Georgia", said Hitchens. He added: We are now faced with Russian imperialism, not of the Bolshevist kind but of the much more traditional czarist, right-wing-chauvinist, and Russian Orthodox Christian kind. It could be more menacing because it might be less amenable to reason or deterrence and therefore it could be less stable, less rational
HIS NOTES ON IRAN: On February 19th of 2008 in his article on Do Not Forget Iran addressing the US President (G. W. Bush), Hitchens wrote that
Dear Mr President: A few months ago, it became possible to hear members and supporters of your administration going around Washington and saying that the question of a nuclear-armed Iran "would not be left to the next administration". As a line of the day, this had the advantage of sounding both determined and slightly mysterious, as if to commit both to everything and to nothing in particular. That slight advantage has now, if you will permit me to say so, fallen victim to diminishing returns. The absurdly politicized finding of the National Intelligence Estimate, to the effect that Iran has actually halted rather than merely paused its weapons-acquisition program, has put the United States in a position where it is difficult even to continue pressing for sanctions, let alone to consider disabling the centrifuge and heavy-water sites at Natanz, Arak and elsewhere. Over the course of the next year, you will have to decide whether this question will indeed be left to become a problem for the succeeding administration. As matters now stand, the US is in the not-unfamiliar position of appearing to be more bellicose than it actually is. The picture is complicated by the fact that, unlike Iraq in the past or North Korea today, Iran can boast quite an impressive "civil society movement", which would like both to replace the current ramshackle theocracy and to adopt better and closer relations with the US
EPILOGUE: It should be noted that quoting the political commentator Christopher Hitchens does not mean that this author necessarily agrees with those quotes or he supports the views expressed by this commentator
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
This article was originally published online on September 25, 2008
Johnston, D. (2008): The World According to Hitchens, ed., The Montreal Gazette, The issue of September 24, 2008.
Hitchens, C. (2008): Do Not Forget Iran, ed., 2008 issue of World Affairs.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2008): Online Notes on Christopher Hitchens and the Book of God is not Great.
Footnote (1): Since July 2010, David Johnston has been the Governor General of
Footnote (2): Hitchens died on 15 December 2011, from complications arising from oesophageal cancer, a disease that he acknowledged was likely due to his lifelong predilection for heavy smoking and drinking
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