Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hitchens on Conspiracy Theories

The Downing Street memo, should be the Downing Street dud. I am sorry, but the revelation that Bush was trying to force a showdown with Saddam and end the standoff one way or another, it had been going on for over 12 years after all, is hardly new. Christopher Hitchens covers this, as well as some other conspiracy theories, a favorite subject of mine.

But the main Downing Street document does not introduce us to any hidden or arcane or occult knowledge. As Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate last week, it explains no mystery. As protagonist Jim Dixon observes in another context in Lucky Jim, it is remarkable for "its niggling mindlessness, its funereal parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems." On a visit to Washington in the prelude to the Iraq war, some senior British officials formed the strong and correct impression that the Bush administration was bent upon an intervention. Their junior note-taker committed the literary and political solecism of saying that intelligence findings and "facts" were being "fixed" around this policy.

Well, if that doesn't prove it, I don't know what does. We apparently have an administration that can, on the word of a British clerk, "fix" not just findings but also "facts." Never mind for now that the English employ the word "fix" in a slightly different way—a better term might have been "organized."