Christopher Hitchens appeared on Hardball tonight to discuss President Obama's plan to withdraw a significant number of U.S. combat troops from Iraq. Hitchens, an early and very vocal supporter of the Iraq war, said Obama and the Democrats have been "saved" by Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki because once the Iraqis themselves start asking the U.S. to go, people who warn against a withdrawal start to look "out of step."
We must bow do federalism and Iraqi wishes, Hitchens stated, but we must remain "within swatting distance of al Qaida" and we cannot simply leave the area completely because "the Gulf is a choke-point for the world economy."
Hitchens real warning, however, came about Afghanistan. He asked: "Do people understand how much the president is committing the United States to an endless war in Afghanistan? [Obama] wants to draw down these soldiers [in Iraq]... so he can send them to Afghanistan."
Perhaps the harshest criticism of Obama from Hitchens came at the end: "the model on which Obama ran, that there's one bad war we can't win and there's one good war that we should be trying harder, is almost exactly wrong. Iraq matters far more to us" than Afghanistan.
On a lighter note, Hitchens is showing no signs of injury after he was beaten up by Syrian thugs in Lebanon. The columnist was traveling with a couple other reporters when he came across a campaign poster for a skinhead, Syria-loving political party and, Hitchens being Hitchens, could not pass up the opportunity to deface flier, scrawling on it "Fuck the SSNP". Unfortunately, some members of the party happened to witness this, and promptly beat him up. I cannot quite believe that Matthews passed on the opportunity to ask Hitchens about the incident.
Watch Hitchens, opposite Joe Conason from the New York Observer, on Hardball below.