Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer
thinks former general and national security adviser to four presidents Brent
Scowcroft is "cold-blooded," an appeaser, an ally of Saddam Hussein,
indifferent to those suffering under dictatorships, and indecent to boot. Why?
Because Scowcroft has doubts about the U.S. government's ability to transform
Islamic countries into U.S.-style democracies, and because, like many
other Americans, Scowcroft thinks the Iraq war has made our fight against
terrorism more difficult.
What drove Krauthammer, a trained psychiatrist, to his verbal fit of rage?
Apparently it was an article
that appeared in The New Yorker in which Scowcroft criticized the neoconservative
worldview and suggested America should take a more realistic approach to its
foreign policy formulations.
"What the realist fears is the consequences of idealism," Scowcroft
said. "The reason I part with the neocons is that I don't think in any
reasonable time frame the objective of democratizing the Middle East can be
successful. If you can do it, fine, but I don't you think you can, and in the
process of trying to do it you can make the Middle East a lot worse."
Scowcroft believes democracy may eventually grow in the Middle East, but it
must bloom on its own and not be shoved down peoples' throats.
"You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional
way. Not how the neocons do it," he said. "How do the neocons bring
democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you evangelize."
This was all too much for Krauthammer, who is already highly defensive about
America's growing quagmire in Iraq.
As one of the neocon media architects of the Iraq war, who used his prominent
Post column to disseminate pro-war propaganda (not
unlike the New York Times' Judy
Miller), he should be defensive. In April
of 2002, for example, he wrote:
"Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He
is working on nuclear weapons. And he has every incentive to pass them on to
terrorists who will use them against us. … We must not be diverted from our
supreme national objective: defeating and destroying those who did Sept. 11
and those planning the next Sept. 11."
Today he is lying about Brent Scowcroft.
"For realists such as Scowcroft, regime change is the ultimate taboo.
Too risky, too dangerous, too unpredictable," writes Krauthammer in a column
the Cold-Blooded Realist." Realists "care not a whit about who is running
a foreign country" or "how they treat their own people. Realists prize
stability above all, and there is nothing more stable than a ruthlessly efficient
But it is the ruthlessly efficient dictatorships in Israel's neighborhood
that seem to primarily concern Krauthammer who, along
with William Safire and A.M.
Rosenthal of the New York Times, is a recipient of the Guardian
of Zion Award from Israel's Bar-Ilan University for
"support of the Jewish State in print over the years." Skeptics could
be forgiven for wondering whether Krauthammer is truly committed to removing
all dictators, or if he is simply committed to removing those dictators he perceives
as threats to Israel.
While Krauthammer proudly brandishes his Israeli patriotism (a quick glance
of his writing will reveal a firm commitment to both glorifying Israel and agitating
against its critics), he has little tolerance for American patriots like General
Scowcroft, whose primary concern is for the lives of American soldiers – soldiers
Krauthammer would use as robots in pursuit of his grandiose Middle Eastern vision.
To Krauthammer, those who hesitate to risk the lives of Americans in order to
invade and occupy faraway Islamic countries deemed a "threat" by hyperactivist
ideologues are themselves a threat to "decency" and civilization.
"Of course, Scowcroft's opposition to toppling Saddam is neither surprising
nor new. Indeed, we are now seeing its third iteration. He had two cracks at
Saddam in 1991 and urged his President Bush to pass them both up. … It is not
surprising that Scowcroft, who helped give indecency a 12-year life extension,
should disdain decency's return," writes Krauthammer.
Hence, by suggesting it was not in America's best interests to remove Saddam
without a viable plan as to what would fill the vacuum other than a lot of dead
Americans and Iraqis, Scowcroft is not only an appeaser, but an aggressor.
He was, after all, an active ally of Saddam Hussein for 12 full
years. Or so Krauthammer wants his readers to believe.
But if Scowcroft is an ally of Saddam for hesitating to sacrifice American
lives to accomplish his removal, then Scowcroft's best friend, the first President
Bush (a man Hussein allegedly tried to have assassinated)
must be Saddam's ally as well.
Noting that during the 1991 Gulf War he could have disregarded the UN mandate
and pursued Saddam into Iraq, Bush once said,
"We could have rode into Baghdad in 48 hours, and then all hell would have been
broken loose. And we would have been standing alone making a martyr out of a
defeated brute and tyrant…."
Now that's a realist argument if ever there was one. So for Krauthammer and
the neocons, that means Bush I, the president who expelled Saddam from Kuwait,
must also be an appeaser. And all his talk of not wanting to risk American lives
and make dictators look good by illegally invading and occupying a sovereign
country? That was just an elaborate ruse designed to hide his cowardice, cynicism,
And therein lies the insanity, paranoia, and irrationality that mark neoconservative
thought. Those who oppose them are not only wrong, but evil. If you disagree
with neocon-formulated government policies, you must have wicked ulterior motives.
If you put the lives of American soldiers before some abstract vision of a socially
engineered Middle East, you are selfish. And no one is beyond reproach. Even
those who have patriotically served their country like Scowcroft become sinister
subversives if they break with the neocon party line.
Given the neocons' roots
in the Left, it's no surprise that this kind of extreme reaction is suggestive
of how the communist ideologues in the Soviet Union targeted
dissidents, including former heroes of the Revolution. They were publicly identified
as traitors to the Party and summarily ushered off to the Gulag – or straight
into the grave.
In the mind of a socialist, a big government program (formulated by the right
people) is the solution to every problem, and to challenge the moral right of
the statist elite to deny the self-determination of a sovereign people, even
to the extent of murdering them for their own good, is to challenge a major
tenet of their faith. This is why the Democrats are having such a hard time
coming to terms with the fact that the intervention itself, not just its execution,
is the problem in Iraq, and why those on the socialist Right (like Krauthammer)
are so defensive about the collapse of their program and its exposure as yet
another government boondoggle. They would rather attack and demonize their critics
than admit their planning was flawed – because that would mean their entire
theory of government is wrong.
And these are the people we are supposed to believe want to "liberate"
the Middle East? These are the people we are supposed to trust as responsible
stewards of a growing domestic security state? These are the people our soldiers
are supposed to blindly follow into war?
At 80 years old and with his connections, Brent Scowcroft probably doesn't
have to worry about being sent to Guantanamo for speaking out against the Party.
But if the neocons are allowed to run amok in Washington much longer, future
generations of dissidents might not be so lucky.