Hitch in Iran

Christopher Hitchens has been in Iran and this is his wonderful travel log of sorts. For starters, he met with Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson, who is a Bush lover (!). It can be hit or miss with Hitch, but when he's on, he is so on and there are plenty of penetrating observations here, in addition to just the slice-of-life observation.

For example, wherever he goes, he meets people who hate the mullahs and want to know when America is going to rescue them. He observes: "Cynicism about the clergy is universal, but it is especially among the young that one encounters it. It's also among the young that one most often hears calls for American troops to arrive and bring goodies with them. Yet, after a while, this repeated note began to strike me as childish also. It's a confession of powerlessness, an avoidance of responsibility, a demand that change come from somewhere else."

He also notes that many of the Shia disliked the Khomeini regime because Islam envisions mullahs being fathers to the elderly, the infirm and the orphaned. Khomeini's view was that mullahs were to be the "fathers" of the whole state. The practical result has been --in the minds of many Shia leaders-- the alienation of the young from religion. Plus, many of the chief architects of the 1979 revolution are now against the regime of the mullahs and very open to America. Do read it! He travelled all over and his description of the countryside and his probably forbidden journey into the secret heart of an important mosque is riveting.