Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Krauthammer at War (or is that at sea?)

Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer-winning Washington Post columnist and dean of the non-blotospheric neoconservative commentariat, has written an absolutely infuriating article for Commentary Magazine which demonstrates the absolute hubris and arrogance of the neocon clique that have got America into its current mess in Iraq.

Entitled "The Neoconservative Convergence," the article has Krauthammer displaying breathtaking chutzpah in declaring neoconservatism one of the three great major American schools of foreign policy-making, when really it is just the bastard child of every previous approach held together with a large dollop of political expediency.
  • From classical realism, neoconservatism has inherited an elitist bent that is strikingly at odds with the open spirit of democratic dialogue that used to be America's greatest civic virtue, at least until the neocons came along and got Fox News to declare anyone opposing them a traitor.
  • From liberal internationalism, neoconservatives have acquired the delusional belief that the American model is the panacea to all the world's problems and that the attractions of the model are such that people will embrace it with open arms if only the United States gives them the chance by making the world for peace. (This leads to the obvious rejoinder of why the United States needs to go through all that trouble to force others to embrace something so appealing, but I digress).
  • And from isolationism, neo-conservatism inherits its dim view of foreign entanglements, foreign trade, and any foreign treaties that prevent the United States from doing what it wants, when it wants.
What really gets me about Krauthammer's article, however, is the ease with which his defense of the Bush Doctrine, namely that security comes only from democracy which comes only from the barrel of a gun, turns into a spirited apologia for American pussy-footing with nasty regimes in other parts of the world. Krauthammer writes:
In the absence of omnipotence, one must deal with the lesser of two evils. That means postponing radically destabilizing actions in places where the support of the current non-democratic regime is needed against a larger existential threat to the free world.
Isn't this precisely the credo of the realists, whose belief in maintaining the balance of power led them to play all sorts of games where the enemies of our enemies became our friends to avert the greater of two evils? Aren't these precisely the kinds of games that the neocons foreswore in the aftermath of 9/11, when an enemy of a former enemy became public enemy number one? And wouldn't Krauthammer's injunction against "destabilizing actions in places where the support of the current non-democratic regime is needed against a larger existential threat" rule out the blundering invasion of a deeply divided country that was only held together by the iron fist of a despot, located at the heart of the world's most volatile tinderbox?

George Bush the elder had it quite right in 1998 when he responded to the taunts of the chicken hawks for not finishing the job in the First Gulf War thus:
We should not march into Baghdad. . . . To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us, and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero . . . assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability.
The prophecy of the father has come to pass. Let's hope the son now has the courage to take a pass on Krauthammer's view of the world.

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