Caught this Napoleanic figure on Inside Washington tonight, on the lesser of our two Chicago PBS stations, WYCC. The Kraut’s long been on my radar as a conservative pundit with cajones the size of bowling balls (and his bubble of denial is just as impervious to puncturing as a bowling ball).
On the “success” of U.S. foreign policy in Iraq: Krauthammer cites a 91% reduction in IEDs and acts of violence in Baghdad since the troop surge. First of all, where’s he getting that number? Predictably, he doesn’t say.
I’ve heard reports that over the past 1-2 years, the counting method itself has changed. Now they can do things like calling an instance of somebody shot from the front a “criminal” act, not a terrorist act. So any Sunni/Shi’ite conflict where there’s not literally a classic “execution style” murder can potentially be reclassified to massage the military’s numbers.
Additionally, we all KNOW the surge troops mostly went into Baghdad. So locking down the city, and building viable (if temporary) relationships with the indigenous leaders in the neighborhoods, would naturally result in a reduction of violence. But what about the situation in other parts of the country, where the violence has not dropped off– where, for example, Britain has essentially given up on Basra? Why do conservatives point toward little subsets of the numbers, rather than the handful of big numbers that matter most? Why do they focus on numbers at all? Because those focused on “victory”, rather than something as tenuous and valuable as peace, or diplomacy, need to quantify everything to measure whether or not they’ve won.
Not to mention, claiming such short-term gains as a success may be foolhardy, as the manipulation and activities behind closed doors by the locals are probably not bringing that nation any closer to actual, maintainable peace and proper governance. It seems to me (and I’m admittedly not that well-informed, but at least I don’t have my head in the sand) that the insurgents are now re-strategizing, mostly waiting around for us to leave before making their grabs for power.
On Iran, and the recent report that they stopped all efforts to build a nuclear bomb in 2003, Krauthammer dug in yet again. He said they stopped “only one of three” components of nuclear development: weaponization of the nuclear material. So they’re still trying to develop atomic power. Big deal. They’ve said so all along, asserting their right to do so like any developing nation. No reason to demonize them. I’m not inclined to believe Iran will be any great ally in the near future, and some of the religious leaders there are definitely stoking the fire of sectarian violence in Iraq and elsewhere. But in that, Iran is no different than our so-called “allies”, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
And is anyone going to finally throw in the towel on Pakistan and admit we got into bed with the wrong guy? Whether his people killed Bhutto or not, he’s a military dictator who took over in a coup. Always has been. Haven’t we been burned enough by men such as Musharraf, in Central and South America, in Africa?
All I’m looking for is somebody to admit they were wrong, and they are now ready to change directions. Clearly, hawkish paranoiacs like Krauthammer are not going to do so. People like Robert Gates are at least rethinking what our priorities and methods need to be, which is good to see. But why can’t any of these classic conservatives see the chinks in their own armor?
Thank God for the inevitable march of history, which will reveal the obviously poor choices of the past eight years (and longer… Clinton and Bush Sr. were no angels in bungling foreign policy matters, either). Unfortunately, by then, no one will care. Either that or they’ll claim they don’t want to play “the blame game”.