Charles Krauthammer Forgets His Place

It is quite understandable for Der Spiegel to have chosen Charles Krauthammer to put forth the conservative take on the Obama Administration thus far; with the recent departure of so many intellectuals from the Republican Party, the columnist's own articulateness relative to others who still speak for the movement has thereby increased.

Among other things, Krauthammer derides Obama as a wide-eyed amateur who lacks the columnist's own grounding in reality:

I would say his vision of the world appears to me to be so naïve that I am not even sure he's able to develop a doctrine. He has a view of the world as regulated by self-enforcing international norms, where the peace is kept by some kind of vague international consensus, something called the international community, which to me is a fiction, acting through obviously inadequate and worthless international agencies. I wouldn't elevate that kind of thinking to a doctrine because I have too much respect for the word doctrine.

Oh, snap! Each time in the past decade that there has arisen a chance to be wrong about America's foreign undertakings, Krauthammer has taken it. He's a real go-getter. As I noted a few months ago:

When NATO sought to derail another potential Balkan genocide by way of its 1999 air bombing campaign against Serbia, Krauthammer denounced the move as mere wide-eyed liberal amateurism on the part of Clinton, arguing that air strikes would be insufficient to force Milosevic out of Kosovo. Bizarrely enough, he tried to convince his readers that General Wesley Clark agreed, quoting the then-NATO commander as telling Jim Lehrer, "we never thought that through air power we could stop these killings on the ground." But the columnist leaves out the rest of Clark's answer, in which it is explained that "the person who has to stop this is President Milosevic" and that the purpose of the air campaign was to force him to do just that. For good measure, Krauthammer also criticizes Clinton for playing golf in the midst of conflict ("The stresses of war, no doubt"); he seems to have changed his mind on the propriety of such stress-relief measures around 2002 or so.

Even after the Kosovo campaign proved successful, Krauthammer remained ideologically committed to chaos in the Balkans, having also predicted in 1999 that NATO involvement "would sever Kosovo from Serbian control and lead inevitably to an irredentist Kosovar state, unstable and unviable and forced to either join or take over pieces of neighboring countries." When an ethnic Albanian insurgency arose in Macedonia along its border with UN-administered Kosovo in 2001, he felt himself vindicated, announcing that "the Balkans are on the verge of another explosion," making several references to Vietnam, and characterizing our continued presence in the region as a "quagmire." The violence ended within the year, having claimed less than 80 lives. Kosovo has since joined both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; Macedonia is preparing for membership in NATO and the European Union.

Then, of course, came Afghanistan and Iraq. Plenty of people got both of these wrong, but Krauthammer managed to get it even, uh, wronger. More wrong. From the same article:

Like many others who had cried apocalypse in Kosovo, Krauthammer bumbled into our two more recent military adventures in a haze of amnesia and inexplicable self-regard. He ridiculed New York Times contributor R.W. "Johnny" Apple for writing one article warning that Afghanistan may develop into a "quagmire" and another proposing that coalition forces might have to contend with guerrilla fighters in Iraq. Krauthammer himself initially hailed the Iraq conflict as "the Three Week War"; when those guerrillas whose existence he had found so improbable actually materialized and U.S. reconstruction efforts were revealed to have been implemented largely by dipshit Liberty University grads, Krauthammer responded with studied sarcasm. "Every pundit, every ex-official and, of course, every Democrat knows exactly how it should have been done," he wrote, before going on to explain how it really should have been done. He concluded the 2003 column with the suggestion that, if "in a year or two we are able to leave behind a stable, friendly government, we will have succeeded. If not, we will have failed. And all the geniuses will be vindicated." Two years later, Krauthammer followed up by admitting to his failures and acknowledging the predictive superiority of his opponents.

Just kidding.

There's more evidence of the Pulitzer-winner's magnificent incompetence at the above Vanity Fair. It doesn't even scratch the surface. I've got ten more pages of notes along these same lines, having recently read through all of Krauthammer's Washington Post columns dating back to 1999 in preparation for my next book. I've gone through the same routine with the work of Thomas Friedman and Richard Cohen, among other inexplicably respected folks. Whatever I make in royalties won't be enough.