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on 29 June 2003
The two books by the same author, by different publishers "A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq (Slate Books)" and "Regime Change" have exactly the same contents, the same headings, the same chapters. If you have bought one, no need to buy the other. I ordered both the books thinking they might be different but was surprised to see the same subject matter.
As for the contents, it provides an interesting reading to know how the author has interpreted different terms like WMDs, Pre-Emptive Strikes and Prevention, Unilateralism and Multilateralism. The book is useful to understand the arguments of the pro-war camp to an extent and thus is also an essential reading for the anti-war camp.
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This short book contains a series of essays for the online magazine Slate written during 2002 and 2003. In the author's words, the intention was that of testing short-term analyses against longer term ones, whilst subjecting long-term convictions to shorter-term challenges. The essays are presented unchanged; only a short preface, an introduction and an epilogue have been added.

In the intro, Hitchens sets out his convictions whilst pointing out the contradictory and sometimes completely ridiculous arguments of the anti-war Left and Right. The hilarious way he destroys the cheap slogans of the so-called peaceniks often makes the reader laugh out loud. Amongst other subjects, he thoroughly demolishes the slur that an Israeli or Zionist lobby was behind the war. He mentions the Anti-Semitic innuendo and imagery employed, and points out that the most insistent lobbyists for the new Iraq policy have been Iraqis - Muslim and Christian, Arab and Kurdish, devout and secular.

The first essay: Machiavelli in Mesopotamia, of November 7, 2002, investigates the "case against the case against regime change". The one titled Armchair General tackles the idea that non-soldiers have less right to argue for war, whilst in Terrorism, Hitchens explores the definition of the term. He refers to Claude Chabrol's film Nada that demonstrates the promiscuous cruelty of nihilistic terrorists. He describes terrorism as the tactic of demanding the impossible at gunpoint.

One of the highlights of the book is called Anti-Americanism, an investigation of its varieties on the right and left, foreign and domestic. Hitchens concludes that for foreigners, the more correct term would be Anti-Modernist and for insiders, Native Masochist.

The essay titled Evil brilliantly explores the meaning of the word. Despite the sneering of liberal intellectuals, there is such a thing, he argues convincingly. Hitchens describes it as behaviour that is simultaneously sadistic and self-destructive. In the trenchant piece Chew On This, he discusses Saddam's crimes, Al-Qaeda's massacres, Kurdish freedom, oil worth fighting for and a couple of other things the so-called peaceniks might wish to consider. Hitchens nails it time and again, expertly destroying the spin and the sloganeering to reach the gist of the issue.

My personal favourite is called The Rat That Roared, an essay on France, the French, Chirac and De Gaulle. It concludes with this hilarious description of Chirac: " ... a vain and posturing and venal man ... a balding Joan of Arc in drag. This is the case of the rat that tried to roar." The following one: Inspecting Inspections is also outstanding, pointing out the ridiculous farce of the United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq. In the article Not Talking Turkey, Hitchens argues that the USA is far better off without unreliable allies like Turkey.

Insight follows insight, as the author is once again on top form as he demolishes the arguments of Christians against the removal of Saddam, giving examples of the moronic pronouncements of the Vatican and the grinning peanut Jimmy Carter. Those who prefer Saddam Hussein to oil are scrutinized in the essay Oleaginous, as Hitchens examines the contradictory positions taken by the peaceniks. They weren't for peace, they were on the side of the Baathists.

The Epilogue: After The Fall, deals with the toppling of the dictator's statue, the Gulf War of 1991 and its aftermath and his personal experiences and impressions after the 2003 liberation. He considers the 12 years between the two wars as a time eaten by locusts, and points out the nonsense parroted by opponents of the war: the apocalyptic worst case scenarios, the mythical Arab street and the rubbish from people like Scott Ritter and Robert Fisk.

Hitchens covers every angle of the Iraq War in its historical perspective, also criticising the mistakes and actions of the USA and other Western powers. One of the elements that makes the book so special is the voice he gives to ordinary Iraqis. I admire his intellectual integrity, his impressive knowledge of history and his captivating style. This little classic provides ample evidence of Hitchens at his best.
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on 18 December 2012
The essays in this book were very influential in the run-up to the Iraq War and for that reason I recommend reading it. I recommend it however in the same way I would recommend Mein Kampf. It is fascinating if only marginally profitable by negation.

To sum it up, it deals with possibilities and not probabilities which makes it useful to fanatics, and useless to practical and sane people.
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on 18 October 2007
I'm afraid reading this book was a shameful, embarrassing experience; a book written by a man exposed as a truthless, imperialist apologist and broadly summed up by the lines of Friedrich Nietzsche from Human All Too Human: "Scholars who become politicians are usually given the comic role of having to be the good conscience of a policy."
Hitchens' independence of mind has to be under deep suspicion. How else can one understand his bizarre intellectual alliance with the neo-cons and their megalomaniac visions of 'full spectrum dominance'?
Brings to mind Machiavelli writing of the eponymous warlord in his 'Life of Castruccio Castracani':

"Castruccio told a man who professed to be a philosopher: "You are all like dogs, who always come running up to the man who can give them most to eat." The philosopher replied: "No, we are like doctors, we go to the houses of those who have most need of us."' Or perhaps this is more to your liking regarding Hitchens hitching his weight to the US and British political war-machine bus:

"The Establishment draws in recruits from outside as soon as they are ready to conform to its standards and become respectable. There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the Establishment--and nothing more corrupting".
Historian A J P Taylor
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on 9 August 2014
Quality book
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on 28 August 2009
Christopher Hitchens is, without a doubt, one of my favourite 'intellectuals', as it were. He is witty, articulate, likeable, and I admire his courage and resolution in standing by his criticisms of Bill Clinton, among others, and his constant voice of dissent in the mist of what has often been a sickeningly naive consensus. His is very well read and educated, and his knowledge is something that should be respected.
However, I think its is extremely disappointing, and even shameful, that he should have supported something like the Iraq War. Someone who formerly was a prominent critics and check on government power has completely failed in analysing or critiquing the actions of the disgusting neo-cons, who lied completely about the Iraq war, who went against both the wish of the Iraqi people and the American people , who haven't even apologised for it yet, who clearly don't give a flying damn about the several hundred thousand dead iraqis, and the thousands of dead American (and British soldiers), and who so blatantly went in for, and I know it's almost become a cliche, but I am sure it is true, Oil. Although I understand that Hitchens is not a supporter of the neo-cons, and supports it for some different reasons than they do, how he can call destruction of public services, hundreds of thousands of deaths, increased likelihood of terrorism, and civil war, 'liberation' is beyond me. Hitchens obsession with toppling 'theocratic dictators' has clouded his judgement and logic. He's going to have to do better than this.
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