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Joe Klein on Our Failure in Germany Circa 1945

John on August 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

Joe Klein has a piece up declaring our everlasting failure in Iraq. Here’s what the same junk would sound like circa 1945:

There is no “victory” in Germany, nor will there be. There is something resembling stability, for now. There is a semblance of democracy, but that may dissolve over time into a Fascist dictatorship — which, if not well run, could yield to the near inevitable military coup. Yes, Hitler is gone — and that is a good thing. The Jews have a greater measure of independence and don’t have to live in fear of mass murder, which are good things too. But Russia’s position in the region has been strengthened. Eastern Europe, will play a major role — perhaps one more central than ours — in shaping the future of the continent. Our attempt to construct a Europe more amenable to our interests will end no better than the previous attempts by Western colonial powers. Even if something resembling democracy prevails, the U.S. invasion and occupation will not be remembered fondly by Germans. We will own the destruction in perpetuity; if the Germans manage to cobble themselves a decent society, they will see it, correctly, as an achievement of their own.

Of course World War II was almost infinitely more costly. The violence was far more grim. Pictures of the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden make Abu Ghraib look like a children’s party.

And that’s not to mention Hiroshima. Does anyone doubt Joe Klein could have written the above assessment in 1945, had he been so inclined? The same claim, i.e. there is no victory, could have been made and for many of the same reasons.

Saddam is gone. 35 million people have a real chance at freedom. But apparently that counts for little in Klein’s calculus. Most despicable of all is his description of Iran as strengthened. In fact, Iran has been dangling by a thread. The Iranian people voted their “leaders” out. When that choice was stolen from them, hundreds of thousands risked their lives to protest the oligarchs for weeks on end. The mullahs were literally reduced to shooting protesters in the streets in a desperate effort to stop the groundswell of support for freedom and democracy.

None of this recent history is even mentioned and I think I know why. Where was Joe Klein in all this? Well, just prior to the elections, he was in Iran writing a piece titled Ahmedinejad’s Appeal the upshot of which was that the execrable dictator sounded a lot like President Bush. He returned to the same theme in a later piece, suggesting that Ahmedinejad must have been trained by an Iranian Karl Rove. You can’t make this stuff up folks!

More important than Klein’s obviously partisan observations was his conclusion:

It seems likely that no matter how many people flood the streets in protest, the Supreme Leader will continue to back Ahmadinejad. It also seems likely that while Barack Obama should continue to press for negotiations, he shouldn’t be too optimistic about the prospect of success.

In short, there is no victory for reform in Iran. Sound familiar?

Garbage like this is why Klein’s nods to nuance, doubt and complexity are especially galling. In fact, nearly everything he’s written in the last 5 years can be boiled down to one unspoken principle: President Bush is a villain. This is his north star, the one thing about which he is stubbornly and stupidly certain. Even when it becomes clear to many on the left and right that Obama is continuing much of Bush’s war policy, Klein twists himself in knots trying to blame Bush while simultaneously excusing Obama.

There must be a reason Time continues to employ Joe Klein. I can’t begin to imagine what it is.

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