Dear Charles Krauthammer

An Open Letter to Charles Krauthammer:

I sometimes wonder if you, like your Obama-obsessed comrades in Congress, are aware of just how damaging your views are to the prospects of international accord and some measure of peace.

Given your nonstop belligerance toward the president and Democrats in general, perhaps this is by design. Perhaps you are a warrior and nothing more, and as long as you are battling against the “prince of lawlessness” that you imagine your nemesis to be, you are convinced your cause is righteous. Perhaps everything you believe can be packaged into the idea that the president must somehow be destroyed, and all other priorities are expendable until this goal is reached.

You are not alone, of course, in holding this deluded philosophy, which has prevented so much potential progress from being realized over the last six years. (Congratulations?)

Mitch McConnel failed in his single-minded priority for the GOP as announced on the occasion of Mr. Obama’s inaugaration – despite a massive effort by the right, Obama’s second term is well under way. Unlike the various illegalities practiced under the former administration (see Libby, Scooter and Plame, Valerie), the hoped-for scandals and indictments of the Obama team are not going to happen. No, not even continued chants of “Benghazi!” will help you now. So you too have failed in your crusade. After six years of harping, you have convinced exactly no one outside your ideological camp that Ken Starr’s political corpse should be resurrected to run down and hog tie another successful Democrat. Can you not simply own that failure and move on? Can you not step out of the ring now that you are on the canvas?

What I am getting at is this: continuously undermining the Hurculean task of managing U.S. foreign policy in a world shattered by extremism, factionalism, and a general collapse of civilization in many regions is not productive for the U.S. and its citizens – people like me. It is good only in the eyes of obsessive people like you, who have no sense of proportion, and of course it’s good for America’s sworn enemies. That goes without saying.

I really don’t care how much you hate the man, nor do I care about the prospects of the GOP, or the Democrats for that matter. I share this lack of compassion for tired, out of touch, insular political parties and their self-interested agendas with MANY fellow citizens. So by extension I don’t care about you, nor am I going to be swayed by your baseless ideologically inspired sophistry.

But I do care about shills like you poisoning the well of ideas here at home, joyously squeezing the bellows of hatred and ridicule into the fires of burning nation states for the sole reason that it might help make the president look weak and increase the prospects for a Republican White House in 2016. Yes, I realize this is “the game” from the GOP perspective, but some of us are through playing it. When I think of the alternative you offer by implication – a “strong” president like former ‘president’ Cheney and his brilliant plans for a “free Iraqi people” and “cheap oil for everybody”, I can’t help but shudder with dread that many low-information American voters would take you up on it.

I realize someone like you will never admit the truth about Iraq – namely, that it was plunged into chaos and sectarian war as a direct result of an unjustified, unprovoked, poorly planned American invasion based on lies told by Cheney’s neocon gang, followed by a dismantling of the regular Iraqi army by the American “governor” of that briefly conquered (and now lawless and leaderless) state.

The disbanding of the Iraqi army, especially, was sheer foreign policy idiocy, as was pointed out at the time, and everyone who was paying attention knows it. These Iraqi men – trained, armed, and then stateless – now form the core of the Islamic State, Sunni warriors cut loose from the now-Shia controlled Iraqi government structure by American decree, men who know they are enemies of Shia Baghdad and who face the prospect of trying to survive under an Iranian puppet regime emboldened by a decade of state-destroying adventures known collectively as the “War on Terror”.

(Yes, I know the new conservative line is that IS was born of Syria’s war, because this allows conservatives to blame IS’s rise on Obama’s “inaction” there – but I am not buying, because without the instability created by the U.S. over a decade of war, IS would just be another Islamist extremist group that CAME to Syria to expand the fight against Assad. They would not be in Iraq or Libya today.)

This is all the result of Cheney’s actions, not Obama’s. No matter how much you want the 2012 Status of Forces agreement to be Obama’s ‘blunder’ that ruined Iraq, you and I both know who put that agreement in place as a matter of history and law. And you and I both know the Iraq “adventure” was an abject failure from beginning to end. It was not Obama’s war. It was not even America’s war. It was Cheney and Halliburton’s war, to the tune of billions in war profiteering.

Of course, to your mind hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, thousands of dead Americans, many billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain, the hatred of the civilized world toward the “imperialist” bullies running America (believe me, I lived it), and the easily foreseen current state of affairs in Iraq brought on by vain American adventurism – none of these is anywhere near the horror of…what? Obama not waging war (which he is not allowed to do anyway) on every rogue actor on the planet? That seems to be the prescription, though you and your Congressional cohort are for some reason reluctant to articulate the actual war plans: the cost justifications, the logistics of fighting on multiple fronts from Ukraine to Syria to Libya, the assurances that non-state actor “x” is our “friend” and will steadfastly fight our cause against non-state actor “Y”, and the viable end-game scenarios for these actions that would justify the cost in lives, money, and international reputation. You imply Obama is refusing to pursue these lines, but you know they don’t actually exist – never mind, progress is not the goal, I know. You don’t need to actually have a goal beyond embarrassing the president and weakening our position as a nation in the eyes of the wider world.

By the way, isn’t it Congress’s prerogative to declare war? Why don’t they then?

By continuing to argue, sans facts, that the Obama administration’s foreign policy is somehow the “cause” of the world’s sectarian strife, you undermine actions the administration and its many allies are actually taking to address these foreign conflicts and nascent threats. At every turn, you attempt to stoke phony “outrage” over administration “bumbling” rather than suggest useful or insightful (as opposed to fantastic and impossible) changes or enhancements to policies that are in fact in place and quietly working.

With your cynical sarcasm and ridicule of U.S. policies, effectively saying “It’s hopeless” to try to assist the president, you signal to your acolytes in Congress that the only course for the GOP is to pre-emptively undermine anything Obama would try to do toward a shared goal of American safety and prosperity. In doing so you trade the cause of peace and security for petty, ephemeral partisan victories that amount to nothing in the real world. (Hint: Obama will not run again in 2016. Promise.) Your goal, if you have any beyond Obama’s destruction, appears to be to convince Americans the country is in worse condition in 2016 than it was in 2008 (though it is not by any fair measure you care to name) and that it’s all the fault of one man, thereby paving the way for a Republican White House because, you know, lesser of two evils, right? You seem adamant in your need for this to be “true” to the point of helping useful global chaos to be realized and tangible, at least in the minds of voters. But it’s not true. The world is always unstable, and the Obama years mark one of the few times the U.S. was agile enough to largely stay out of it – allowing us to concentrate on the many domestic challenges we face (one of which is massive war debt and a huge population of disabled veterans who will need lifetime care, not to mention a treasury depleted by war adventures).

If I thought you were rational, I would ask you to consider only this: as many areas of the Middle East still burn with the fires set by an unthinking, shoot-first American foreign policy circa 2001-2007; as Russia continues to devolve into a failed kleptocracy due to its structural economic weaknesses and Putin’s monomaniacal insanity (not to mention his knowledge that Obama will be both restrained from acting on foreign soil and simultaneously pilloried for inaction by the GOP Congress for electoral purposes); as stateless terrorists in austerity-crippled Europe probe for weakness and terrorize the citizenry; and as Syria continues to crumble while Congress signals it will not support the president’s plans there (again, because they value embarrassing Obama and protecting theselves against primaries over defeating Assad); remember that the United States has somehow – even under Obama – managed to emerge from the Cheney-era’s Great Recession and costly middle east war adventures to steer the country toward a return to prosperity; we have somehow also managed to avoid another costly, pointless war; we have somehow managed to prevent any significant foreign-launched terror attacks. If I thought you were rational I would ask you to recognize that these are good things, not bad things, that they are positive developments for the U.S. despite the world’s general condition.

In other words, we are the envy of a chaotic world right now, an island of peace, enjoying stability and prosperity (relative to 2009) amid the world’s present chaos. All signs point to a continuation of this pattern and a return of American economic dominance and worldwide influence (absent Congressional sabotage in the form of debt default threats, sequesters, thoughtless tax slashing and such). Deficits are shrinking every year; manufacturing is making a comeback; the previously steep annual increases in health care costs are slowing dramatically under Obamacare; the dollar is stronger than it has been in years. The Dow Jones is in record territory. There have been – and I predict there will be – no indictments of Obama administration officials, because they are playing by the rules whether you choose to believe it or not.

Your calculated, hateful rhetoric, your fake sputtering frustration at the “grave ineptitude” of the administration, words that paint a picture of a ‘failed’ presidency, a ‘weak’ president, a ‘lawless’ president simply cannot be taken seriously by anyone who knows the truth of history. Unfortunately, many do not know the truth, because they are listening to the likes of you, in your collective, fact-free Obama-hating echo chamber, instead of looking at the actual historical record, the actual events and decisions that led to the wrecked domestic economy and the factional, warring, America-hating Middle East Obama inherited in January 2009.

 

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