Paul Krugman may be a Princeton poster child for Keynesian economics, but I am not sure how being a numbers wonk qualifies this man to comment on U.S. foreign policy that does not involve trade. One cannot deny his academic bona fides, (after all, the world is filled with educated fools) but can very much challenge his credibility when discussing such complex matters as the Libyan intervention. After all, this man is by no means an impartial observer but rather an unashamed Obama partisan cut right from the mold of the New York Times editorial pages. Combine the yin of his love affair with Barack Obama with the yang of his visceral hatred of George Bush after all these years and what you get is the kind of utter nonsense and blatant hypocrisy that this man spilled out into the round table segment of ABC’s This Week With Christiane Amanpour this Sunday.
The topic was Libya and Obama’s ill-conceived, tardy, and ill-defined injection of US armed forces to tip the balance of that pseudo-nation’s civil war from advantage Ghadafi to advantage, well, whomever they are.
First of all, let’s try a rhetorical palate clensing exercise. Let’s imagine Krugman’s take on this Libya incursion (while we already have blood spilling in Iraq and Afghanistan) had this operation been ordered by George W. Bush rather than his beloved Barack H. Obama. Call it a hunch, but I bet his angle would have looked something like this:
“Here we see yet another example of this administration’s reckless commitment of already strained armed forces into a volatile region in the attempt to alter events to reach an outcome favorable to our interests, while not considering how much more hatred this will engender in the Muslim world that will see this not as yet another exercise in Western imperialism. Sure, he may claim this is an international coalition, but clearly that is bogus. This is a US-led project under the sham of a “coalition” for legal cover and nothing more. Furthermore, this is a mission with no end-game, that will drain the treasury and, okay it may save innocent lives, but we are not the world’s policemen. This is not the only region in which human rights are being violated as anyone in Africa can tell you. This is just more typical bravado on the part of a cowboy administration that is very adept at stepping into quagmires and while not bothering to figure out ahead of time how to extricating themselves from them.”
So, with that said, what exactly did Krugman have to say now that his favorite son is the man pulling the trigger on the latest Mideast adventure? What are his thoughts about this gambit to commit troops at the behest of the myth that is “the international community” in an operation with no clear end-game, no definition of “victory” other than the toppling of a known dictator and madman; injecting ourselves in a civil war with no immediate national security interest at stake; and one that did not have a 9/11-like catalyst to prompt such swift action that side-stepped congress completely in the process in a questionable Constitutional end-around? Here ya go:
“I actually have a lot of sympathy for the president on this. This is clearly…This was not like Iraq. This was not a gung-ho president who wanted to win himself some military glory. There’s no landings on aircraft carriers for this one. This was something where he was dragged in. He was dragged in by the spectacle of a looming humanitarian disaster. And its very very hard..it’s hard both directions. I think if you actually look at people like me who were very opposed to Iraq we are actually very divided, and in many cases divided within ourselves as I am. This was not easy. Of course there’s no clear end game. This was something where we were pulled in by events. I think the president’s speech wasn’t very effective because I’m pretty sure he is internally divided too, but I think that’s to his credit.”
The absolute hypocrisy of this statement is stunning. As mentioned, this is every bit as reckless, every bit as ill-defined and ill-conceived, every bit as fraught with risks of quagmire and Muslim blow-back, every bit as much of gamble, every bit as humanitarian a mission. (For some reason, though, when Afghani women were brutalized by the Taliban and Saddam was massacring his own people by the bucket-loads humanitarianism never entered Krugman’s mind.)
The only difference that I can see is that Barack Obama, and not the despised George Bush, is the man calling the shots this time from the Oval Office. For ideologically blinded pundits like Krugman, Bush is a military glory-hound and Obama a man with no choice but is admirably torn (which makes those bombs less explosive I guess). Bush being resolute makes him a cowboy. Obama being fraught with the indecision of Hamlet warrants sympathy…even admiration. And of course, whereas Iraqi and Afghani lives protected by Bush’s actions are secondary, Libyan lives screened by Obama’s cruise missiles and cluster bomb rate higher in the morality meter. I have one word for Krugman’s analysis: excrement.
All Krugman’s latest so-called analysis really shows is that, whatever his ability to twist numbers to form fit to discredited Keynesian economics that strikes a chord with like-minded socialist award-givers in Oslo, he is wholly incapable of giving an honest assessment of the world at hand. Rather his opinions come first and foremost by whom the the policy in question is initiated, Bush or Obama, and then are constructed from there. His words may be music to the ears of those who still harbor a manic hatred of Bus–matched only by their bizarre post-Weimar like adoration of Barack Obama. But for the rest of us who want serious and objective analysis of matters of life and death, he continues to offer us instead empty posturing by a man whose credibility should have been challenged, found wanting and put out to pasture with his Nobel prize many, many years ago.