A few months ago I attended a briefing with a member of the Bush administration, and took the opportunity of citing to him something that Christopher Hitchens had lately written (though I can't now find where he said it). In order to emphasise the lamentable state of the administration's public diplomacy regarding foreign affairs, Hitchens had pointed out just how much trouble the cause of 'regime change' was in if the task of expounding it to a sceptical public were left to people like, well, Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens returned to the point recently in an article in The Weekly Standard:
Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case [on Iraq], largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them or reason with them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem.
I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration (which is the nicest thing that my enemies can find to say). Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime.
Nowhere have the administration's efforts at public advocacy been more feeble than in the UK, where the post of ambassador (only recently filled) was left vacant for a year, and where Tony Blair has suffered significant political damage from his closeness to President Bush. I'm delighted that at last the administration has recognised the problem of its standing in European and Asian public opinion, and done something constructive about it. In the past few days it has appointed a longstanding Anglophile as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy, in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. She is Colleen Graffy, a Professor of Law who has lived in London for 20 years and has also lived in Germany.
I have shared a television studio with Colleen, and found her a formidably well-informed and cogent advocate for the 'regime change' cause. Recently she appeared on Any Questions on Radio 4 with George Galloway, where she noted, with complete accuracy and justification, that Galloway's Respect 'Coalition' is in reality an electoral front for the Socialist Workers' Party. So far from being 'anti-war', Respect/SWP is pro-war but on the other side; so far from being a cause of the Left, it is literally and not merely metaphorically a fascist and racist party. My readers, of course, know all this; so now do listeners to Radio 4.
For all who favour a policy of the global expansion of constitutional democracy - that is, for all genuine progressives - Colleen's appointment is excellent news, and I wish her well in her new responsibilities.