Friday, August 11, 2006

Wrong About Everything

There's a word for what Krauthammer writes in today's Washington Post...propaganda. Here's the definition of propaganda from Merriam-Webster:

2: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.

Or in other words, being somewhat less than intellectually honest. Where to start? How about here:

With the defeat of Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, antiwar forces are poised for a takeover of the Democratic Party. Tuesday's exhilarating victory, and the elan and electoral legitimacy gained, may carry the newly energized Democratic left to considerable success in November.

But for the Democratic Party it will be an expensive and short-lived indulgence. The Iraq war will end, as will the Bush presidency. But the larger conflict that defines our times -- war on Islamic radicalism, more politely known as the war on terrorism -- will continue, as the just-foiled London airliner plot unmistakably reminds us. And the reflexive antiwar sentiments underlying Ned Lamont's victory in Connecticut will prove disastrous for the Democrats in the long run -- the long run beginning as early as November '08.

Once again, Krauthammer peddles the Republican talking point that there is no distinction between the war in Iraq, and the "war on terror." But of course, there is. I have yet to fully embrace the idea that withdrawal is the only course we have left in Iraq, but I'll admit that things there have only steadily gotten worse over the past three years. It may come to the point where withdrawal is the only course of action remaining, because Iraq has blown up into a full-on civil war our troops can't hope to contain. I am perfectly willing to say that that would be a total and humiliating defeat for us. But here's the funny thing about defeat; frequently, it's brought about by the fact that you can't win no matter what you do. You don't usually get to choose whether you're going to win or lose a war, and if you do get any choice, it's usually not to lose. So here's the deal; referring to Democrats as "defeatocrats" or their supposed willingness to "cut and run" in Iraq is only avoiding honest debate about the situation, and in fact it may shortly come to the point where there's no choice as to whether we can leave or not because it will be painfully clear to the American public that we cannot win, and they will demand that our troops come home.

But here's the other deal; a loss in Iraq will not doom our ability to fight terrorists. As those more astute than Krauthammer may have noticed, none of those arrested yesterday were Iraqi. That's because Iraqi insurgents are busy killing our soldiers and Iraqi civilians in Iraq. The threat to us and our European allies appears to be from "home-grown" terrorists, or terrorists from nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, etc.,etc. If we leave Iraq, we'll continue to battle these terrorists as we always have; hunting them down overseas, using our intelligence capabilities, and through vigorous law enforcement. But, we might actually be able to do that better because we've no longer tied down the bulk of our military fighting both sides of a civil war in Iraq. So, stop conflating Iraq with the "war on terror." They're not the same thing, and wanting to leave Iraq (or acknowleding that we must leave Iraq) is not indicative of a willingness to "retreat" from battling Islam terrorists. It saddens and angers me that I even have to explain that, because it ought to be patently obvious to either liberals or conservatives that such is the case, but it's just too easy for Republicans to use "defeatist" talking points with their eyes on the mid-term elections. They wouldn't get away with it if it weren't for a substantial minority of conservative suckers who fall for it.

Krauthammer then takes a shot at the Democratic approach:

Lamont said in his victory speech that the time had come to "fix George Bush's failed foreign policy."...Lamont's alternative to the Bush Iran policy is to "bring in allies" and "use carrots as well as sticks."

Where has this man been? Negotiators with Iran have had carrots coming out of their ears in three years of fruitless negotiations. Allies? We let the British, French and Germans negotiate with Iran for those three years, only to have Iran brazenly begin accelerated uranium enrichment that continues to this day.

Lamont seems to think that we should just sit down with the Iranians and show them why going nuclear is not a good idea. This recalls Sen. William Borah's immortal reaction in September 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II: "Lord, if I could only have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided."

Stupid, stupid, stupid. No, not what Lamont is saying. I'm talking about Krauthammer's response to it. Let's dissect very quickly what's been wrong with our approach on Iran; Krauthammer refers to it himself. We're the country that has the most interest in preventing Iran from going nuclear (other than Israel or a few other Arab states, who have no power to really stop them) and yet...we refuse to talk to the Iranians. Sure, there have been carrots; German carrots, French carrots, Russian carrots. Where are the American carrots? When you engage in diplomacy with a country to alter their behavior, you are constrained by your ability and your willingness to force them to choose another course of action. That's why diplomacy exists in the first place. For all it's refinement, diplomacy is the art of haggling; you give up something, they give up something, you get something, they get something else. And yet our "diplomacy" with Iran has consisted of us criticizing our allies who are trying to get Iran to give up their nuclear program, refusing to talk to Iran directly and make an offer of a security guarantee that could defuse some of their desire to have nukes (among one of the possible carrots), and making ludicrous not-so-subtle and public threats of force against Iran while Iran make credible, subtle and not so public threats against our forces in Iraq.

Nobody...NOBODY...thinks that sitting down to talk with Iran means cajoling them or pleading with them to give up nukes, because they're just bad for the world. That includes Lamont, or every other Democratic politician in the country. By saying that we should be offering carrots and sticks, Lamont is only repeating the stunningly obvious tenet of diplomacy that if you want to get something, you're going to have to give up something in return. Only in the world of Bush, where up is down and left is right, is even talking to your enemies a sign of weakness, to be shunned at all cost, even if the end result is you're unable to persaude bad actors through either diplomacy or force (thanks to that little war in Iraq) to do what you want them to.

Krauthammer is supposedly one of those "intellectual" conservatives. I think that reputation is undeserved. He's repeatedly shown a willingness to set up strawn man arguments, ignore inconvenient yet basic facts, misconstrue the position of liberals and Democrats for the sake of argument, and pervert history to his own rhetorical ends, all in the support of the uniquely Republican brand of conservatism. In other words, he's simply peddling propaganda and you dear reader, shouldn't buy it for a second.