The late polemicist Christopher Hitchens once warned that he would “go on keeping score” about the refusal of some countries to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq “until the last phoney pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.”

Among the “phoney pacifists” to whom Hitchens was referring were a number of his former friends on the left, now, in his eyes – as a result of their opposition to the Bush administration’s War on Terror – apologists for totalitarianism and theocracy in the Middle East. Hitchens’ post-9/11 conversion from socialism to neo-conservatism was indicative of a broader split in the Western liberal commentariat, occurring in the early 2000s, over the use of American military power to “promote democracy abroad.”

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