AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges, you were a longtime correspondent for the New York Times. For two decades you worked there. You were one of the premier war correspondents. You wrote the book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. You won the Pulitzer Prize about eight years ago. You talk in Death of the Liberal Class about your experience at the Times. Why don’t you go through it for us in detail and what you think it indicates?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I spent a lot of time in the book talking about those figures, like Sydney Schanberg and others, who were expelled from these liberal institutions—Richard Goldstone, who wrote the Goldstone Report on the 22-day Israeli assault on Gaza, would be another example—because there are clear parameters within these institutions that you don’t cross. The perfect example would be the buildup to the Iraq war. Here, the liberal, so-called self-identified liberal class—figures like David Remnick at The New Yorker; Bill Keller, who was a columnist at the New York Times, now the executive editor; George Packer; on and on, even people like Frank Rich, people forget—all backed the war. And they did it as sort of reluctant hawks. Probably the poster child for this was Michael Ignatieff of the Carr Center, at Harvard, for Human Rights, who’s now the head of the Liberal Party in Canada.AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, that reluctance makes them the most convincing.
CHRIS HEDGES: And it—yeah, of course it does, because it gives a kind of moral veneer to a crime. It’s heartfelt. "We don’t like war. We all opposed the Vietnam War." This is almost verbatim Ignatieff’s argument. And "But it’s something that has to be done. We have to face the hard, bitter truth of world politics and recognize that we are a force for good." Samantha Power does this, in essence, in her book on genocide. It’s the idea that the empire is sort of used to—it can abrogate for itself the right to use force to impose virtues. It’s an utter tautology and absurdity to those of us who have been at war. But it works. And the function of the liberal class and why it is traditionally tolerated by the power elite is because it disarms movements that should have stood up on the eve of the Iraq war and fought back.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
There Are Some Things That'll Never Go Away for Ignatieff
And yesterday's interview was just one of them that continues to wreak havoc for all eternity. Interestingly title, the book is called "Death of the Liberal Class". Ominous.