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December 21, 2007

That Wacky, Wacky Krauthammer
Posted by Michael Cohen

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the wackiest of them all? Krauthammer, Krauthammer, Krauthammer!

In today's installment of That Wacky, Wacky, Krauthammer, our old friend Charles judges the President's success in dealing with the three members of the "axis of evil." Predictably,  Chuck thinks the President has done a pretty good job - and in the one place where he's failed . . . well it really isn't his fault.  Last week Krauthammer had a brief flirtation with sanity, which almost caused me to write a blog post titled "That (Not So) Wacky, Wacky, Krauthammer. But luckily the dalliance was brief because this week CK is back to his exaggerating, misleading and lying ways.

In today's piece, there is a lion's share of dubious arguments, but one truly does merit great consideration. In judging Bush's record on North Korea a draw, Krauthammer argues:

We did get Kim Jong Il to disable his plutonium-producing program.  . . Disabling the plutonium reactor is an achievement, and we do gain badly needed intelligence by simply being there on the ground to inspect. There is, however, no hope of North Korea giving up its existing nuclear weapons stockpile and little assurance that we will find, let alone disable, any clandestine programs. But lacking sticks, we take what we can.

This is just a bald-faced misrepresentation of the truth it practically takes your breath away.  What Krauthammer fails to mention here is that North Korea's plutonium-producing program lay dormant, under lock and key and IAEA inspection, during the Clinton Administration, only to be re-started under the Bush Administration.

In 2001, the White House pulled out of the Clinton negotiated Agreed Framework, which had stopped North Korea's plutonium processing program and ended all negotiations with the North Korean regime. Then in 2002, after confronting the North Korean with evidence that they were enriching uranium, Bush took no action when North Korea kicked out international inspectors unlocked its fuel rods and began reprocessing them. This stood in stark contrast to the Clinton Administration, which not only threatened military action when North Korea too similar action in 1994, but opened a back-channel diplomatic effort that led to the Agreed Framework.

Indeed, the North Korean bomb that was exploded in 2006 was likely a plutonium bomb and this most likely produced during the Bush Administration - and most scandalously after Bush labeled the nation a member of the Axis of Evil. To give Bush credit today for stopping a plutonium producing program that he allowed to begin and which produced a fully functional nuclear weapon is not only absurd, it's disingenuous to the nth degree. In a career full of exaggerations and misstatements, this has to be in the Krauthammer top ten hall of shame. (See Fred Kaplan's piece here for more detail on the Bush Administration's failure in North Korea)

But, Krauthammer does not limit his lies and misstatements to North Korea. On Iran, after blaming the intelligence bureaucracy for "a spectacularly successful coup," that scuttled any hope of putting sanctions in place to stop the Iranian program, he warns, "Iran continues enriching uranium with 3,000 centrifuges at work in open defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Once you have the necessary fuel, you can make the bomb in only a few months."

While this is not inaccurate, Krauthammer seems to be intimating that Iran is only a few months away from having enough fuel to build a bomb - of course this is not true. Iran is years away from having enough material to build a bomb. According to the NIE:

We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon is late 2009, but that this is very unlikely.

We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.  (INR judges Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013 because of foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.)  All agencies recognize the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015.

Nice try, Chuck! But more to the point, Krauthammer ignores the fact that since 2002 and its inclusion in the Axis of Evil, Iran is demonstrably stronger today. We have generously wiped out Iran's two biggest rivals in the region, we have strengthened their influence in neighboring Iraq and we have hurt the case for international sanctions because of our bellicose, World War III warnings that turned out to be inaccurate. But, don't worry it's not the Bushies fault - blame the intel community. Do you remember when Republicans used to preach the virtues of personal responsibility?

Finally, in declaring Iraq a victory, Krauthammer declares:

The taking down of Hussein led directly to Libya's full nuclear disarmament.

This line about Libya's nuclear program has been a conservative talking point for years now - and it's a lie. Several commentators have pointed out that negotiations to end Libya's nuclear program pre-dated not only the Iraq War, but the Bush Administration. As Martin Indyk put in 2004:

The fact that Mr. Gadaffi was willing to give up his WMD programmes and open facilities to inspection four years ago does not detract from the Bush administration's achievement in securing Libya's nuclear disarmament. However, in doing so, Mr. Bush completed a diplomatic game plan initiated by Mr. Clinton. The issue here, however, is not credit. Rather, it is whether Mr. Gadaffi gave up his WMD programmes because Mr. Hussein was toppled, as Mr. Bush now claims. As the record shows, Libyan disarmament did not require a war in Iraq.

Honestly, when you read a piece like this it really makes you wonder "does the Washington Post even attempt to fact check its columnists"?  Kidding aside, it's simply embarrassing that a paper as reputable and influential as the Post allows this kind of partisan hackery to find its way onto its opinion page. It might be fun for me to point out the wackiness of Charles Krauthammer, but it should be simply embarrassing for the Post that they give him a platform to spew his catalog of untruths.


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Sorry for heading off topic but the last time you posted was to promote Matt Dallek's piece at Democracy Journal. Your readers here, including me, strongly disagreed with Dallek. Dan K. even registered there to log his objections and I followed his example.

Now, it's the holidays so I can't and don't expect instant feedback to reader comments but... you brought up the issue and have posted since, without reply and Dallek has had plenty of time to deal with reactions...

What gives? Surely one or both of you should have replied by now.

That's not a demand of course. Happy holidays!

By the way... Dallek totally owes us a reply because in his piece he basically asked us all to sacrifice our time, effort and money for homeland security. It's only natural that a citizen would ask him to further justify his reasons for asking us to do anything for no reward.

I wish I could be wrong about everything and still keep getting paid a lot of money.
How does Kraut(Cabbage)hammer keep his job? How do the Kristol and Klein, the other two member's of the media KKK keep theirs? The only explanation is that they must have pictures of their editor's in compromising situations.
I think I need to learn how to use the camera thingie on my cell phone. Maybe I, too, can find people in power with dead girl's or live boy's. Or having a wide stance with a mule, or something...
When will progressives get a voice in the MSM? When they learn how to use that camera thingie on their cell phones.
OK, where's that stupid manual?

What's even more disingenuous is Krauthammer's assertion that "...we take what we can." If that were the case, Bush and Co. would have "taken what they could" with the AF and saw the deal through to the end stages, without any defiant plutonium firework shows in North Korea.

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