Friday, September 03, 2010

Charles Krauthammer on Obama's "Distraction"

One of the joys of Charles Krauthammer columns is, once you've read for or five of them, you can save time by just reading the headline - because he's entirely predictable in his prejudices as well as in his opinions and (general lack of) support thereof. Today is no different - President Obama is "distracted" which, given the President's focus on issues such as the economy, health care, the environment and the like, can really only mean that he's not interested in pursuing Krauthammer's war agenda for the Middle East and Asia. That peace initiative thing, trying to mediate the intractable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians? Not worthy of mention - it's not part of Krauthammer's war agenda (and we know what Krauthammer thinks of Palestinians). And sure enough, no surprises. But Krauthammer does offer a few gems.
But Obama sees his wartime duties as a threat to his domestic agenda. These wars are a distraction, unwanted interference with his true vocation -- transforming America.
The wars are a threat to the President's domestic agenda, they damaged the former President's domestic agenda, and as long as they continue they will threaten and damage the domestic agenda of future presidents. More to the point, why wouldn't the President of the United States of America want to devote a significant amount of time and energy to his domestic agenda. He is, after all, the President of the United States.

Although there is no question but that President Obama is taking the war in Afghanistan far more seriously than did his predecessor, Krauthammer predictably fails to credit him for that. The problem is that the President is not willing to write a blank check for endless war, nor is he willing to allow the Afghan and Iraqi government to continue to avoid taking responsibility for their nation and their future. As is always the case with Krauthammer, he offers no solutions - no explanation of how the administrations of Iraq and Afghanistan that he appears to view as feckless will suddenly man up if they believe we're going prop them up with no accountability and no deadlines. Krauthammer's a psychiatrist by training, so surely he's familiar with Einstein's quip about insanity.

If we acknowledge that the President of the United States is supposed to address the issues facing the United States, and that it is in the advantage of the United States to bring the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a close at some point in the future, as usual, Krauthammer's complaints are exposed as hollow.
Unfortunately, what for Obama is a distraction is life or death for U.S. troops now on patrol in Kandahar province.
If I believed Krauthammer gave a second's thought to the welfare of the troops other than as a rhetorical tool to be directed at his political foes, I might try to be more charitable here. But even if I were to offer Krauthammer that charity, does he truly think that the troops in Kandahar are safer there, engaged in a never ending war and occupation, or by having that war end in a responsible manner such that they may go home?

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