We are not supposed to speak ill of the dead – apparently, indeed, we are supposed to go on and on about how marvelous the dead were. And no doubt conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer showed in his journalism some very real virtues. Still, since obit after obit alleges that one of them was ruthless honesty, let us honor the spirit of honesty by staring one inconvenient fact in the face.
In the early years of this century, Krauthammer went on, and on, and on about the naivete of those who opposed to Iraq war. In particular, he made a specialty out of columns that were generally not well-argued, but sneeringly contemptuous, in their dismissal of cheif UN weapons inspector Hans Blix. It was Blix – not a pundit, but a career diplomat with deep experience in nuclear weapons – who had the termerity to (a) doubt that Saddam had WMD at all, and (b) think one might perhaps find out without declaring war.
Let us remember: it turned out that Blix was the political realist, and was right, and that Krauthammer and his “realist” neo-con friends were the blind, ignorant saps.
The other big difference between Blix and the neo-cons was that the neo-cons won the argument – or anyway were more persuasive to George II and his well-greased changeling, Prince Tony of Kut al Amarah – and that therefore thousands of men and women in uniform, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis clothed mostly in innocent terror, died unnecessarily.
An apology would have been nice. Something along the lines of “I was utterly wrong, and a bellicose fool, and there is an ocean of blood on my hands.” But then getting at the truth about things was never the whole picture, was it? As Orwell remarked long ago:
“Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.”
Charles Krauthammer was a master of that. So spare a moment to remember the other dead.