The Plank

Meow, Round 68,482,913

It turns out that getting hip to op-ed squabbles in which the combatants don't dare speak each others' names makes reading the morning paper a lot more fun. Now we have Anne Applebaum going at it with Charles Krauthammer in the Post. This weekend, Krauthammer trumpeted that the state of our international alliances is, in fact, strong:

When the Democratic presidential candidates pause from beating Hillary
with a stick, they join in unison to pronounce the Democratic pieties,
chief among which is that George Bush
has left our alliances in ruins. ... [T]he Democrats are living in what Bob Woodward would call a state of denial. Do they not notice anything?

Ohhh! Krauthammer goes on to cite America-loving Europeans like Sarko and Merkel as evidence. Of course, a country having a leader that's pro-American doesn't mean its people are pro-American (exhibit A: Musharraf), nor that said leader isn't still disincentivized from supporting us in specific areas thanks to our specific behaviors (exhibit B: Iran). Enter Applebaum, handily clotheslining Krauthammer this morning:

[H]owever it all comes out in the end, however successful Iraqi democracy
is a decade from now -- our conduct of the war has disillusioned our
natural friends and supporters and thrown a lasting shadow over our
military and political competence. ...

Certainly no expert committee in existence could convince Europeans (or
anyone else) that Iran really does have nuclear weapons or even that
Iran intends to build them. So fresh are the memories of American
claims about the extent of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and so
vast, therefore, is the skepticism about any assessments of anybody's
nuclear program, that even a report bearing any United Nations or European Union label would fail to convince, even if Iranian nukes were on display in downtown Tehran. ... What, then, are we left with? Fingers crossed, that those who say
Iran's nuclear bomb is years away are right. Fingers crossed, that all of the other crises whose
resolution has been hampered or damaged by Iraq -- Pakistan, Afghanistan, the broader Middle East -- will somehow solve themselves, too.

Applebaum's piece is a great column on its own. But it also got me thinking on what other match-ups I'd like to see: Krauthammer vs. George Will on how influential the Iran hawks really are? David Brooks vs. Dan Savage on -- anything?

--Eve Fairbanks

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