Christopher Hitchens quits Nation

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THE loudest voice in Washington’s Brit pack, Christopher Hitchens, has quit his column with a left-wing magazine over its opposition to war against Iraq.

For 20 years Mr Hitchens has contributed a bi-weekly column, "Minority Report", to the Nation magazine, a flagship of the old left in a country that for the most part enshrines capitalist consumerism.

But he announced his departure in a column this week, taking issue with the magazine’s one-sided stand on Iraq.

As a British "contrarian and essayist", as he describes himself, Mr Hitchens’s pugnacious and provoking style has made him a fixture on the Washington cocktail circuit and on its political talk shows.

He is celebrated for taking no prisoners in his books and essays, skewering the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as a war criminal, and Mother Teresa for giving Calcutta a bad name.

While many others lampooned George Bush’s mangled sentences, Mr Hitchens declared that the US president was "obviously dyslexic".

But he also pulled no punches with former president Bill Clinton - whom he savaged as a "pathological liar and sexual delinquent".

It was Mr Hitchens’s testimony that a Clinton aide committed perjury in the Monica Lewinsky scandal that marked his first serious break with the left-wing establishment.

But it was his differences on Iraq and the war on terror that prompted his departure from the Nation.

In a recent article for a British newspaper, Mr Hitchens argued: "It must be obvious to anyone who can think at all that the charges against the Hussein regime are, as concerns arsenals of genocidal weaponry, true."

In the article he did not completely endorse an attack on Iraq. But of Mr Bush’s doctrine of "pre-emption", he said that, in the wake of 11 September, "a leader who was not trying to take the war to the enemy would be delinquent in the extreme".