Friday, August 25, 2006

Krauthammer on Perfidy

Oh, why didn't he see this coming.... Poor Charles Krauthammer and friends, taken in by the evil French:
But we underestimated French perfidy. (Overestimating it is mathematically impossible.) Once the resolution was passed, France announced that instead of the expected 5,000 troops, it would be sending 200.
Well, speaking of math, if it's not possible to overestimate French perfidy, then it follows that French perfidy is infinite. If French perfidy is infinite, you would have to be stupid to underestimate it. So when Krauthammer says "we", he would seem to be admitting to at least situational stupidity, which would be fitting given that he is almost always a fount of frothy irrationality on issues relating to the Middle East.

But step back for a moment here. This force, even at a "full" 15,000, would be tiny compared to our commitment in Iraq. Heck - it would be pretty darn small as compared to our commitment in South Korea - is that number still about 37,000? So what's really going on? Perhaps the U.S. realizes two things: First, anybody who deploys troops in Lebanon risks having troops killed, and second, Lebanon doesn't have oil. Perhaps Mr. Krauthammer needs to consider that despite this nation's overwhelming support for Israel's right to exist and be secure within its borders, we don't see a compelling need to shed U.S. blood to secure that nation's northern border.

Shaking his fist angrily at France and sputtering angrily about that nation's perfidy doesn't change the fact that the U.S. entered into the ceasefire deal without first getting troops committed to the peacekeeping force, nor does it change the fact that we're expecting those troops to come from nations other than our own. Despite the implications of his mathematical formula, surely Mr. Krauthammer would not contend that the U.S. or his beloved President were suckered into supporting the ceasefire deal - the Bush Administration's political leaders and diplomats joined it with their eyes wide open.

Krauthammer suggests two contexts when multilateralism is valuable:
This is considered a radical change of course. It is not. Even the most ardent unilateralist always prefers multilateral support under one of two conditions: (1) There is something the allies will actually help accomplish or (2) there is nothing to be done anyway, so multilateralism gives you the cover of appearing to do something.
Perhaps he doesn't recognize the Bush Administration's variant on #2: If you could do something but you don't care enough to invest your nation's resources, multilateralism again provides that nice cover.

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