george packer interview: on Iraq, Hitchens, the Left, etc.

GP: In which he [Hitchens] took me to task for various things. And then he said something slighting about me to the New York Observer. Later he sent me an email basically expressing regret. And that was enough. And now if I see him—I invited him to the book party—if I see him it will be pleasant. That’s the kind of guy he is. If you are Christopher Hitchens you have to let go of some of your grudges, otherwise all of humanity will eventually be your lifelong enemy. [laughs]

RB: It’s interesting about how some people respond to him. When they agreed with him, they loved him, as usual, and when they disagreed, they found him to have all sorts of flaws. I don’t agree with him on the war, [but] I still admire him and think he must be paid attention to. He is an amusing stylist.

GP: He’s at his best writing about literature and history, I think, better than his political writing, which lately has suffered from certain excesses of partisanship.

RB: He’s under siege.

GP: And he will not back off. That’s it: He’s under siege and he is backed up and he is going to keep digging in.

RB: Which is why I was surprised by his blurb—but then again, I think he is intellectually honest.

GP: Yes, and some of the criticisms in my book of even people like him, or certainly of his new friends in the administration, although he wouldn’t make those criticisms, he is honest enough to accept them. The book has been far better-received on the right then on the left. I expected a little of that. It ranges from essentially a positive reception that’s closed around a critique that I am not sufficiently apologetic or have not seen the total folly of ever supporting such an enterprise. That’s in a couple of reviews in liberal left publications. They were respectful but critical. Then you move toward the blogosphere and even some well-known writers who, because my book was getting some attention, zeroed in on me as the Second Coming of Hitchens.

The rest of the excellent interview here.