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Over the last year or so, important milestones were reached when major righty voices jumped ship, with regard to the war. People like William F. Buckley and George Will (along with various other major figures) have now turned their back on the war.

But naturally there have been a few holdouts. And perhaps none is more prominent than Charles Krauthammer. As far as I can tell, he has stood relatively alone as a very, very influential conservative voice who has not budged even an inch on his commitment to Dubya's folly.

But now even Krauthammer is getting ready to jump ship. In my opinion, this is a significant milestone that's going relatively unnoticed (aside from here, about 5 paragraphs down).

Let's look at today's column from Krauthammer, titled "Iraq: A Civil War We Can Still Win."

First of all, the title made my jaw drop. "Civil war" is to some extent a subjective term. It can be defined different ways by different people. But it also has taken on special rhetorical power in the debate over the war. Bush et al have bent over backwards to reject the idea that it's a "civil war." His adversaries use that term. His hardcore backers reject that term. But now Krauthammer has made a significant shift, by embracing the term, in his title, and in the column itself. Krauthammer poses the question, is it a civil war. Here's his answer:

Of course it is.

Of course he then says:

whether the phrase "civil war" is to be used is irrelevant

Fine. Whatever. Then please explain why Bush has avoided that term like the plague. But the important thing is that you finally admit it's a civil war.

Krauthammer's other key shift, perhaps even more important, is that he essentially admits the war may be "unwinnable." In my opinion, this is very significant because "unwinnable" is another central rhetorical issue. Bush's message is that the war is absolutely winnable, as long as we "stay the course." (Of course Bush also hints that winning will takes years or decades.)

Krauthammer is putting a significant distance between himself and Bush, by admitting the war may be "unwinnable." He admits this by asking the following question, a question Bush supporters are never, ever supposed to ask:

can we still win ... ?

Krauthammer has announced that it's a "civil war," and it might be "unwinnable." All that's left for him to do, in typical GOP fashion, is find scapegoats. If we lose, who do we blame? According to Krauthammer, we blame the Iraqis, and Maliki. According to Krauthammer:

[whether we win or lose] depends on whether the government of ... Maliki can face up to its two potentially mortal threats: the Sunni insurgency and the challenge from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Krauthammer goes on to explain that Maliki should make deals with the Sunnis and Sadr. But Krauthammer explains that these "deals and alliances" will require "a Maliki government decisively willing to deal with the Sunnis and take on Sadr."

"Decisively" is a code word for carrying a big stick: Maliki "needs to demonstrate the will to use [the Iraqi armed forces]." In other words, if we lose, it will be because Maliki failed to use force to confront not just the Sunnis but also his backer Sadr:

without a central Iraqi government willing to act in its own self-defense, this war will be unwinnable

Of course, that sentence, at the very end of the column, says it all. If we lose, it's because Maliki's government wasn't "willing to act in its own self-defense."

What's interesting is that Krauthammer might be right about all sorts of things. He's probably right to suggest that Maliki needs to be willing to use force to confront Sadr. He's probably right to suggest that Maliki should make various deals with the Sunnis.

There's nothing remarkable about anyone, including Krauthammer, making such suggestions. What's remarkable is that Krauthammer has reached the point where all he can do is construct alibis. He's simply using those suggestions as a framework for an alibi. Krauthammer probably realizes that these things (what he claims Maliki needs to do) probably won't happen. In fact, Krauthammer is probably counting on them to not happen.

So that's the real importance of his column. He's telling us the alibi we'll be hearing, once Bush can no longer deny that the war is lost. Here's the alibi: in the end, the war was lost because Maliki didn't do the right thing.

It's a major milestone that a powerful voice like Krauthammer has reached the point of floating such an alibi, in such a direct, explicit, unqualified manner.

Speaking of excuses, it's not enough to have an alibi for why the war was lost. Bush also needs an alibi for why we started the war, in the first place (and it's necessary to avoid the subject of WMD, because not only didn't we find any, but there's more and more proof that Bush lied about them). Krauthammer covers that, too. Here's his alibi: it's Kerry's fault. Really.

Here's how Krauthammer makes that argument. Krauthammer hints at the possibility that "the critics are right" and "we should ... have left Saddam Hussein in place," to begin with. So why didn't we do that? Because Kerry didn't tell us to:

That's the argument ["Iraq is not the center of the war on terror"] that should have been made -- that Kerry should have made -- four years ago, before he voted yes, before he voted no, before he voted yes on the war.

Amazing but true: the blame for starting the war lies with the Dems, because many of them actually believed Bush's lies about WMD, and therefore supported the war.

To review: we got into the war because Ds failed to prevent Bush from starting the war. And we lost the war because Maliki failed to do his job properly.

The right-wing noise machine works like a pyramid. Messages start at the top and filter down. Krauthammer is darn close to the very top of the pyramid. We now know what we will be hearing from righty bloggers in months, years and decades to come.

Originally posted to jukeboxgrad on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 09:40 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Isn't it breathtaking? (6+ / 0-)

    Isn't it just breathtaking how the wingnuts are blaming the collapse of their own failed policies on Democrats?   It seems to be the only way they can walk away with any shred of "dignity" from the burning pyre that their Dear Leader is leaving behind.

    Blame the Democrats and blame the "liberal press."   Blame The Clenis.  Blame the "Hate America Crowd."  Blame them all, but don't look in the mirror.

    They came to power and broke all the dishes in the house and now they are blaming the previous occupants.  

    Can we talk about taking back the senate? We need six states.

    by Radiowalla on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 09:37:05 AM PDT

  •  Unwinnable for the USA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Probably the Shia will win the civil war in Iraq, if they can put aside their own feuding long enough to establish a rump state.  The Kurds look like winners too, if the Turks and Iranians don't invade.  

    It's pathetic how some of the Sunni insurgents who are still fighting Americans now hope we'll stay and protect them from enthnic cleansing.  "Cut and run" looks better all the time.

    "Everything's shiny, Captain. Not to fret."

    by rmwarnick on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 09:44:46 AM PDT

  •  Damn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just posted another diary on this - didn;t see this one.

    But it is more than amazing to suggest that this happened beacuse John Kerry voted to suppoprt Bush's policies.

  •  Next week's editorial by Krauthammer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Charles will be reflecting on new "revelations" next week in his editorial.

    Apples are red.
    Babies diapers smell.
    Dennis Hastert is overweight.
    Dick Cheney may have heart problems.
    O.J. Simpson, guilty ?
    The Republicans like corporations.
    Teenage girls are excitable.
    Duke Cunningham is in jail.
    Paris Hilton "gets around".
    Governor Arnold is really an Austrian !
    Milli Vanilli can't really sing.
    Ketchup pours slow.
    Mahatma Gandhi is dead.
    Alcatraz was a prison.
    Jay Leno has a TV show.
    Daisy, from the "Dukes of Hazzard" had nice legs.
    Gravity holds things down.
    Robert Redford was in movies.
    Mahatma Gandhi is still dead.

    My God, if the Dems don't pick up 40 seats in the House and 8 in the senate, they truly are the red-headed stepchild of politics.

  •  Hah! Krauthammer, (0+ / 0-)
    a trained psychiatrist, shows us that that the people most often attracted to this profession are the ones most in need of its services.
  •  I'm not impressed... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krauthammer is a out-and-out liar who repeatedly states that, despite the anthrax attack on Democratic Senators and supposed liberal news media outlets which occurred in October 2001, we "haven't been attacked since 9/11."  People died and Krauthammer lies.  All the time.

    Moreover, if we are talking language, how exactly are wars in any way analogous to a sports or athletic competition in which one can "win?"  Casey Sheehan and all the amputees at Walter Reed certainly didn't "win" anything.  The thousands and thousands of dead Iraqis didn't "win" anything.  William Tecumseh Sherman didn't think anyone "won" the American civil war; nor did Lincoln.

    The use of sports terminology from a President who did nothing significant other than "own" a baseball team prior to becoming President, I suppose, is not too surprising.  Commentators and pundits, however, are supposed to use accurate language.  When Krauthammer parrots the Bushspeak like a good little Bush sycophant for years and years and years in all of his columns and in all of his Faux appearances, he loses credibility.

    The never-ending disastrous war in Iraq, in my view, was never "winnable."   War is Hell.  Some wars need to be fought, but nobody really ever "wins."

    Let justice reign though the heavens tremble

    by Viceroy on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 10:33:05 AM PDT

  •  I hate to say, but the Dems do bear some resp. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Dem Establishment of girlie men failed us when they failed to question Bush on the war and essentially enabled this BS. They been kow-towing to the GOP since, except for having the cojones to stand tall against SS privatization. But now we have two unwillable wars raging, two extremists judges added to SCOTUS, many other extremist judges on the bench, and a host of other things too numerous to mention.

    The only holds that any Dems have put on bills in the senate are two holds on the bill identifying pork.

    Apparently the Dem senators didn't get the Loserman message we are sending them either, since they welcomed him back with open arms the other day.

    If they want a tussle with the blogistas, they are heading in that direction.

    We want some Marines in there fighting for us.

    If not now, when? When they come for you, then it will be too late. Shout it from the rooftops, take it to the streets.

    by tjfxh on Fri Sep 08, 2006 at 10:38:45 AM PDT

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