Francis Fukuyama vs. Charles Krauthammer

Francis Fukuyama, the latest hero of the left for ‘resigning from the neoconservative movement’ (as the NYT writes it) and becoming a staunch critic of the Iraq war, has received a sharp rebuttal to his recent comments about a speech Krauthammer made in 2004 about the Iraq. That speech, Fukuyama has said, was the apparent straw that broke them camel’s back for him regarding any support he had for the Iraq war and also the ‘neocon movemnent.’ Fukuyama has said about the 2004 speech given by Krauthammer presented the Iraq was as “a virtually unqualified success.”

Krauthammer responds here and says that Fukuyama is lying about that speech, and opines that his criticism of the Iraq war is ‘well-timed’ (considering that support for the war in Iraq is lower now than it has been). He writes:

I happen to know something about this story, as I was the speaker whose 2004 Irving Kristol lecture to the American Enterprise Institute Fukuyama has now brought to prominence. I can therefore testify that Fukuyama’s claim that I attributed “virtually unqualified success” to the war is a fabrication.

A convenient fabrication — it gives him a foil and the story drama — but a foolish one because it can be checked. The speech was given at the Washington Hilton before a full house, carried live on C-SPAN and then published by the American Enterprise Institute under its title “Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World.” (It can be read at LINK .) As indicated by the title, the speech was not about Iraq. It was a fairly theoretical critique of the four schools of American foreign policy: isolationism, liberal internationalism, realism and neoconservatism. The only successes I attributed to the Iraq war were two, and both self-evident: (1) that it had deposed Saddam Hussein and (2) that this had made other dictators think twice about the price of acquiring nuclear weapons, as evidenced by the fact that Moammar Gaddafi had turned over his secret nuclear program for dismantling just months after Hussein’s fall (in fact, on the very week of Hussein’s capture).

In that entire 6,000-word lecture, I said not a single word about the course or conduct of the Iraq war. My only reference to the outcome of the war came toward the end of the lecture. Far from calling it an unqualified success, virtual or otherwise, I said quite bluntly that “it may be a bridge too far. Realists have been warning against the hubris of thinking we can transform an alien culture because of some postulated natural and universal human will to freedom. And they may yet be right.”

History will judge whether we can succeed in “establishing civilized, decent, nonbelligerent, pro-Western polities in Afghanistan and Iraq.” My point then, as now, has never been that success was either inevitable or at hand, only that success was critically important to “change the strategic balance in the fight against Arab-Islamic radicalism.”

I made the point of repeating the problematic nature of the enterprise: “The undertaking is enormous, ambitious and arrogant. It may yet fail.”


Fukuyama now says that he had secretly opposed the Iraq war before it was launched. An unusual and convenient reticence, notes Irwin Stelzer, editor of “The Neocon Reader,” for such an inveterate pamphleteer, letter writer and essayist. After public opinion had turned against the war, Fukuyama then courageously came out against it. He has every right to change his mind at his convenience. He has no right to change what I said.


Fukuyama has been caught in a big one. Will be interesting to see how/if he responds.

Hat tip: Betsy Newmark

Read more via: Glenn Reynolds, Captain Ed, Confederate Yankee

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