Yesterday, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, criticized the Pentagon’s handling of the war in Iraq and laid out a two-part plan for victory. How would you defeat the terrorists?, asked host Chris Wallace. “Kill them,” Kristol responded. “Defeat them.”
“We’ve been trying,” Kristol added, “and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.”
Afterwards, Kristol’s criticism touched off a serious effort among bloggers looking to rehash and reinterpret his remarks.
James Wolcott, for one, sees in Kristol’s comments a surprisingly convincing parallel between neoconservatism and communism (yes, you read that correctly).
“Old-line, die-hard Communists used to argue that communism had never truly failed because it had never been really implemented,” writes Wolcott. “That Stalinism was a perversion and subversion of the communist ideal, therefore its crimes shouldn’t be used as proof that Marxism had been invalidated; or some such thing.
“Given the Trotskyite roots of neoconservatism, it’s little surprise that neocons would trot out a variation of the same sorry excuse as the firmament of postwar Iraq cracks and America’s failure makes mockery of their pre-war vainglory,” he adds. “In other words, neoconservatism (and, by extension, the Bush doctrine) hasn’t failed, it just wasn’t properly executed. Under different leadership it would have been a different story.
“A subtle chap, almost feline, Bill Kristol isn’t crass enough to put it that plainly,” concludes Wolcott. “But he is crass enough to blame the Iraq debacle on anybody but himself and his fellow samurai at The Weekly Standard.”
Others, sizing up Kristol, were less subtle.
“Only a war-mongering chickenhawk like Bill Kristol could smirk as he told the Fox News Sunday panel that ‘We have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq,’” writes News Hounds. “Kristol’s soft white hands are the trademarks of an armchair general who knows nothing of war but maps and philosophy.”
Speaking of soft white hands, Kristol’s comments had lots of liberal bloggers taking their gloves off and wondering where Kristol’s criticism of the war had been for the past three years.
“Essentially, Kristol claims the Iraq war — which he was sure would be a smashing success — isn’t working out because Donald Rumsfeld is Michael Moore,” writes Think Progress. “Another question: Mr. Kristol, if the administration’s policy in Iraq the last three years has not been a ‘serious effort’ why have you spent the last three years defending it?”
He hasn’t — at least, according to Andrew Sullivan.
“[Think Progress] obviously hasn’t read much of Bill over the last three years,” writes Sullivan. “Kristol’s distaste for the worst-of-all-worlds combination of neoconservative idealism being implemented by a pig-headed realist like Rumsfeld has been evident for a very long time. He’s just a lot more diplomatic than I am.”
That is, he used to be more diplomatic.