Tuesday, November 24, 2015

At least Krauthammer's position on Eastasia remains consistent

We've already started a thread on the conservative media establishment actually being primarily partisan rather than ideologically conservative, resulting in, among other things, sharp turns on various issues when partisan interests shift. I've also been meaning to start a thread on the effects of feeding your party core a steady stream, not just of lies but of mutually contradictory misinformation. I'd argue that, to understand the Tea Party, you have to consider the tension and pent-up anger caused by all the resulting cognitive dissonance.

When I finally get around to making that argument, I need to remember to mention this sharp and funny piece by Jonathan Chait even though we aren't in complete agreement. What he puts down to nationalism, I see as a cynical attempt to manipulate the base. I strongly doubt that Charles Krauthammer and company "fervently believe" much of anything they say on Fox News.
Extreme nationalism, by its nature, requires its adherents to form judgments about the nature of foreign countries that are clear-cut, but also wildly inconsistent over time, as the interests and alliances of one’s own country inevitably mutate. The current state of right-wing thought has gone beyond the natural sympathy one might feel toward the people of France in the wake of the barbaric murders in Paris toward a new line best expressed by Charles Krauthammer, the leading party theorist. “If the other goal of the Paris massacre was to frighten France out of the air campaign in Syria — the way Spain withdrew from the Iraq war after the terrorist attack on its trains in 2004 — they picked the wrong country,” writes Krauthammer. “France is a serious post-colonial power, as demonstrated in Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic and Mali, which France saved from an Islamist takeover in 2013.” Those French colors don’t run.

Conservatives who now fervently believe they have always been the strongest of allies with France may need to expunge from their memory certain unpleasant events of the past. In the run-up to the Iraq War, nationalist fervor expressed itself in no small measure through intense hatred of that very same country, which represented everything they despised: generous social-welfare provisions, (alleged) cowardice, an attachment to diplomacy and international institutions. House Republicans officially changed the name of their cafeteria’s French fries to “freedom fries.” France was the heart of what Don Rumsfeld derisively called “Old Europe” and the subject of a 2004 book entitled Our Oldest Enemy, authored by a senior editor at National Review. Its essential qualities were treason and cowardice, its outsize role in world affairs a tragic relic.

The highbrow version of this theory was elucidated by Krauthammer. “France pretends to great-power status but hasn't had it in 50 years. It was given its permanent seat on the Security Council to preserve the fiction that heroic France was part of the great anti-Nazi alliance rather than a country that surrendered and collaborated,” he wrote in 2003. “Why in God's name would we want to re-empower the French in deciding the post-war settlement?” he asked. It sought to form “a French-led coalition of nations challenging the hegemony of American power and the legitimacy of American dominance,” a treacherous scheme Krauthammer traced back to Charles de Gaulle. Now France is a “serious post-colonial power,” its decades of anti-American scheming forgiven and forgotten.


  1. Wow--how horrible. I wonder if Krauthammer will address this incoherence in a future column. I suppose not. Perhaps he would say that France is a serious post-colonial power but not a great power.

    1. A journalistic establishment that gives Maureen Dowd a Pulitzer does not worry that much about coherence