Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (review)

Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, by Christopher Hitchens (HarperCollins, 2005)

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Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (review)

by Brian Douglas Steele
Southern Cultures, Vol. 14, No. 1: Spring 2008

HarperCollins, 2005

Christopher Hitchens, whose recent drift from the left has caused no little anxiety among former comrades, has used the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, among other venues, to retroactively (or is it simply anachronistically?) lay Thomas Jefferson’s blessing on the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war for the purposes of exporting democracy. Now, claiming Jefferson’s imprimatur is nothing new in American history, but only a tortured reasoning could see in Jefferson’s Mediterranean policy to protect American trade against “state”-sponsored pirates a precise analogy for Mr. Bush’s advocacy of “regime change,” which flies in the face of everything we know about Jefferson’s insistence on recognition of de facto regimes and about his perhaps less admirable belief that very few people on earth were capable of handling liberty in the way Americans could.