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Dr. Charles Krauthammer (1950–2018) was a former psychiatrist and arch-neoconservative who had been a Beltway denizen for the last three decades. He was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post and a regular guest on Fox News. He died of cancer.
Krauthammer entered politics in 1978 when he became a director for psychiatric programs under the Carter administration and wrote speeches for Vice President Walter Mondale. During the 1980s, he wrote for various magazines including The New Republic and Time and eventually landed his spot at the Washington Post. He is most known for his writing on foreign policy and international relations and for coining various terms that are commonly used in the punditocracy:
Given that he grew up in Montreal, it should come as no surprise Krauthammer graduated from McGill University. What is mysterious is how a patriotic young man would not return to his home country, enroll in an American school (McGill is a prestigious institution: he'd have his pick of the top tiers) and join the ROTC.
Krauthammer divided philosophical approaches to foreign policy into four schools and characterized them thusly:
- Isolationism: The earliest form of US foreign policy, originally based on American exceptionalism and a desire to stay out of the conflicts of "Old Europe." (It has, arguably, evolved into non-interventionism.)
- Liberal internationalism: The multilateral approach to foreign intervention. Liberals seek to intervene in foreign affairs through supranational organizations like the UN (e.g., Bill Clinton and the Balkans) but restrain unilateral intervention using those same bodies (e.g. Iraq).
- Realism: There is no "international community" but a collective of competing powers which are kept in check by the US as the sole superpower. The US should intervene everywhere in foreign affairs to protect its national interests.
- Democratic globalism: A philosophy built on American exceptionalism that claims the US has the duty to "spread democracy" throughout the world.
Krauthammer called his philosophy "democratic realism":
“”…[T]his is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity — meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom.
How did his philosophy work out? Keep reading.
War on Terror
Krauthammer was known for being one of the biggest media cheerleaders for the War in Iraq. Like all the others, he was consistently wrong (see also: Friedman Unit). In one 2003 column, he noted, "if in a year or two we are able to leave behind a stable, friendly government, we will have succeeded. If not, we will have failed. And all the geniuses will be vindicated." Aha.
He later jumped on board the Bush administration's shifting goalposts and attempts to shove the WMD claims down the memory hole. The invasion was always about bringing democracy to the Iraqi people, not WMD! And Elvis didn't do no drugs!
Krauthammer, religion, and science
Krauthammer called himself "Jewish but not religious." Probably as a result of this, he had major differences with the Religious Right and was known for supporting pro-choice policy, increased funding for stem cell research, and opposition to the death penalty. Stopped clock.
When it comes to evolution, Krauthammer had been one of the few voices from the right loudly denouncing intelligent design. He didn't mince words on this topic, having called the evolution-Intelligent Design "debate" a "false conflict" and deriding ID as "tarted-up creationism" and a "phony theory". Predictably, the wingnuts didn't take kindly to this.
Unfortunately, Krauthammer slipped when it comes to global warming. While he called himself a "global warming agnostic" rather than a "denier" and acknowledged how "it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere", all he did whenever he wrote on the subject is spew tired denialist talking points about how the science isn't settled and how environmentalism is a religion.
- Charles Krauthammer Pulitzer-winning Columnist Dies of Cancer. NPR. June 21, 2018.
- The Reagan Doctrine, Krauthammer in Time
- The Unipolar Moment, Foreign Affairs
- Democratic Realism, American Enterprise Institute
- The Trouble with Charles Krauthammer, Vanity Fair
- Krauthammer's revisionism on Iraq, Brendan Nyhan
- Phony Theory, False Conflict, Krauthammer in the Washington Post
- See, for instance, the Freeper response to one of his anti-ID columns
- Carbon Chastity, Washington Post
- Krauthammer: Global Warming is a religion, Think Progress
- See also Joe Romm's response to Krauthammer.