Monday, May 01, 2006

# Posted 2:35 PM by Patrick Porter  

WHAT HUMILIATION? According to some pundits, the commentator and neocon Bill Kristol was 'sliced and diced', beaten up, and embarrassed on the Colbert show the other night. I beg your pardon?

Readers can judge for themselves from the transcript here.

Just getting one thing clear: I'm biased. I like his writing and am interested in his views, and agree with him on many points. So I tuned in, slightly apprehensive about seeing him mauled.

Unless I'm really missing something, Kristol didn't emerge so badly from the quickfire exchange between the two. He has some views that weren't easy to reduce to bite-size nuggets for the baying Upper West Side crowd and the slick comedian.

But his central position, that he supports the foreign policy of the Bush administration but also thinks that members of the Administration are incompetent, doesn't seem incoherent or self-contradictory. Its not absurd to like someone's ideas but suspect them of managerial incompetence.

Incidentally, often branded only as a neocon cheerleader, he also called for intervention in Darfur several years ago.

The moment that is being pointed to as the knockout blow is where Kristol said 'We cannot allow dictators to kill their own people.' Maybe it wasn't so elegantly expressed, maybe a better statement might have been 'Where we can, and where it is the most severe, we should consider military intervention.'

But it seems a symptom of some of the most isolationist and complacent strains in contemporary opinion that being in favour of overthrowing the worst regimes where we can earns scorn and derision. Its to be expected that folk might have reservations about this position, but its an opinion to be tackled seriously, not waived away.

The most fatuous and frequent rejoinder to the 'humanitarian intervention' argument was hurled back at Kristol: that if you favour taking down predatory regimes, you therefore have to be in favour of waging war all over the world against all of them. Only no war at all or total war will do.

That is just reductive nonsense. You do what you can, dealing with the constraints and complications of the real world aroud you.

Whether Iraq fits that case, of course, is highly contentious to many people. But to suggest that this cheap fallacy was the fatal sting that discredited Kristol looks a little desperate.
(7) opinions -- Add your opinion

For what it's worth, I watched that episode and, while I'm probably much less a fan of Kristol than you, I think he came off quite well. Kristol is quick and more than aware of the nature of Colbert's show (and, he seems able to laugh at himself, which helps). I was puzzled by various lefty bloggers linking to the interview as some kind of take-down of him.
glad I wasn't alone!

its actually my first time watching Colbert, being tv-less, but it would seem that anyone appearing on it would need to bring along some sharp, quick answers.
IncideIncidentally, often branded only as a neocon cheerleader, he also called for intervention in Darfur several years ago.ntally, often branded only as a neocon cheerleader, he also called for intervention in Darfur several years ago.

Not that unusual for a neocon. Extremely typical. Neocons highly believe in using US military force for good in a variety of ways, including purely humanitarian ones like Darfur. That sets them apart from the paleos, the libertarians, and even the fusionist conservatives, all who shrink away from intervening without US interests.

Neocons get along great with the muscular neolibs.
I watch the colbert report often and I think the guy is pretty funny, but the interview was lame (speaking truth to power about the P.F.A.C. etc...) The best part of the interview was when Kristol wished Colbert well on saturday and Colbert dropped a Dice Clay-esque bomb. Stale, boring and obnoxious.
From the ThinkProgress comments thread: "Kristol is a criminal Neocon who must either be arrested and/or deported to Israel and never allowed to return to the United States! He deserves scorn and redicule form everybody!"

He's a Joooooooooo, you know. I didn't have the patience to go through all 120+ comments, but I didn't see anyone object.
"Incidentally, often branded only as a neocon cheerleader, he also called for intervention in Darfur several years ago."

While I also agree that calling someone a neocon hardly ends a conversation, or demonstrates a single cookie-cutter set of opinions, or proves their Evilness, I'm baffled at what contradiction you seem to be indicating in the above sentence.

Yes, he's a neocon, and he unsurprisingly supports intervention in Darfur. And? So what? What's the point you're trying to make? Not following.

As I recall, he also supported military intervention against Milosevic. As I see John Thacker also pointing out the obvious, it's common for neocons to support muscular U.S. military intervention. And?

This is like writing "Incidentally, often branded only as a liberal cheerleader, he also called for action against racism several years ago." Or for a national health care plan. Or for anything else liberals tend to favor. What was your point?
Hey Gary,

my point, which I probably should have made clearer, was that he is often dismissively written off by his opponents just as a guy who advocates American crusading wars in the middle east, or as a 'cheerleader' for Bush's agenda.

In reality, the policies he has advocated have been far broader, which entail disagreement with some of the actions or inactions of the Bush adminstration.

I agree that neoconservatism and humanitarian intervention are not mutually exclusive.
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