Krugman on Civility

Today’s column by Paul Krugman is titled “The Uncivil War.” In it, he indicts Republicans for being “uncivil.” Exhibit A is the current Republican television ad, which supports President Bush against his critics in the mildest possible terms. The ad’s offending language–“Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists”–is denounced by Krugman as “as hateful as they come.”
Well, not really. Apparently Krugman has forgotten his last 300 columns. Those columns, consisting of little other than vituperation directed against the Bush administration, actually are “as hateful as they come.”
Not to mention Krugman’s latest book, with its U.K. cover depicting Bush as Frankenstein’s monster and Vice-President Cheney as Hitler. That is, in fact, “as hateful as they come.” Reading Paul Krugman on civility is like reading Al Franken on humor.
As usual, there is little of substance in Krugman’s diatribe, but he does make a pass at formulating an argument:
“What the critics say is that this loss of focus seriously damaged the campaign against terrorism. Strategic assets in limited supply, like Special Forces soldiers and Predator drone aircraft, were shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, while intelligence resources, including translators, were shifted from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to the coming invasion. This probably allowed Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden, to get away, and definitely helped the Taliban stage its ominous comeback. And the Iraq war has, by all accounts, done wonders for Qaeda recruiting.”
As always with Krugman, bare assertion replaces evidence. Let’s parse his claims briefly. He alleges that Special Forces, drone aircraft and translators were shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq. When, exactly? Kabul was liberated in November 2001, and the invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, nearly a year and a half later. Does Krugman really mean to suggest that it would have been necessary or appropriate to keep all of the troops involved in the Afghan war there for an additional year and a half? To what end?
But what follows is worse. Krugman asserts–as always, with no factual support whatever–that the purported shifting of resources to Iraq “probably allowed al Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden to get away…” This is patently ridiculous. If bin Laden actually escaped, which is still in doubt, it was in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Tora Bora, which took place in early December 2001. At that time, whatever troops (and Predator drones and translators) had ever been committed to Afghanistan were still there. The suggestion that bin Laden escaped because they had been moved to Iraq is ludicrous. The Iraq invasion was still fifteen months away.
Krugman has become a punching bag; he entered Chomskyville long ago. The only thing that distinguishes him from Chomsky and other lefty loonies is that Krugman has a twice-weekly column in the New York Times. Why?