Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Mr. Kristof's Ideological Blinders

Attributing the failure of liberal-progressivist politics in the international arena to the idealism of liberal statesmen, Nicholas Kristof laments that President Bush is becoming a foreign policy idealist -- from the right -- "and is showing the same cavalier obtuseness to practical consequences [as the liberal idealists]."

The examples Mr. Kristof uses in support of his claim, however, reveal not a cavalierly obtuse president, but the inability of a New York Times columnist to put aside his own ideological commitments and see things for what they are.

North Korea:
Kristof attributes North Korea's nuclearization to Bush's "Axis of Evil" epithet and a policy of non-engagement towards Pyongyang. In other words, Kim Jong-Il is building nukes because he doesn't like being called names by an American president who won't let him play in any reindeer games.

What's really driving North Korean nuclearization is the country's desparate need for financial assistance and confidence that the U.S. can be cajoled into coughing up some cash. From where does this confidence come? The Clinton administration's previous pay-off, otherwise known as the Agreed Framework.

Does Kristof really think that skepticism regarding the prudence of attempting to buy-off or appease a thuggish dictator stems from a "cavalier obtuseness to practical consequences"? Maybe he's hoping engagement with Kim will bring "peace in our time."

The Mideast:
Is it Bush's unworldly idealism that led him to drop Arafat -- by Kristof's own admission an "incompetent leader who dabbles in terrorism," or perhaps the very practical consideration that fostering peace in the Mideast would be sufficiently difficult without a fundamentally corrupt dictator representing the Palestinians, and probably impossible while he remains a central player in the process.

Kristof complains that "a Middle East peace now seems further away then ever." This is as meaningless a statement as you will come across on the New York Times Op-Ed page (which is saying quite a bit), unless you happen to think that the Clinton/Barak approach of nearly endless, unreciprocated concessions was leading to peace, and you'd have to be a hardcore left-liberal ideologue -- totally immune to the influence of fact or logic -- to believe that.

There's more, but read it directly if you must as our point is made and picking on Kristof is too easy to be amusing.


Post a Comment

<< Home