Tuesday, August 08, 2006


A big Kool-Aid OH YEAH! to Matt Yglesias for putting his finger on Charles Krauthammer:
He's one of -- if not the -- most genuinely pernicious people on the American intellectual scene. A forceful polemicist, blessed with the ability to engage in staggering levels of dishonesty on behalf of shockingly wrongheaded ideas. Or, as the vice president of the United States put it, "a man I admire very much . . . one great American . . . a superior intellect."

As if to demonstrate precisely Yglesias' charge, here's Krauthammer last week in Time, presenting his familiar fakakta version of Middle East history, in which the Israelis stand around making the desert bloom, pausing in their prayers for peace only long enough to repel periodic attacks from the undifferentiated mass of Jew-hating Arabs.
Something radically new is emerging in the Middle East: the century-old Arab-Israeli dispute has been transmuted from a nationalist to a religious war. And as a result, the Arab-Israeli wars are now merging into the global conflict between radical Islam and the West.

Well, not that radically new. Krauthammer and other Likud-types have been trying for years to conflate the U.S.'s war on terror with Israel's war on the Palestinians, and the conflict with Hezbollah has given them a perfect chance to try again.

The Israeli writer Amos Oz has written that the Arab-Israeli conflict is really three conflicts. The first involves the effort by Arab nationalist regimes to destroy what they perceived, not entirely unreasonably, as a Western colonial outpost in their midst. The second involves the effort by militant Islamists to restore all of historic Palestine as an Islamic waqf (religious endowment). The third involves the effort by the Palestinian people to assert their right to establish a state in part of their homeland. Conflating and confusing these conflicts only helps extremists on both sides, and handicaps moderates, which is, of course, Krauthammer's goal.

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