Kristol’s Munich Memories

In a heroic act of research, New York Magazine interns conducted, at Jonathan Chait’s request, an excavation of every published example of William Kristol citing the Munich agreement, or the principals present at that agreement (basically Hitler and Chamberlain), as a precedent for something happening in the world, usually in U.S. politics or foreign policy. They found 61 examples, which Chait lists in summary form.

Interestingly enough, 41 of those utterances occurred after Barack Obama’s election as president (another, comparing Obama to Neville Chamberlain, was published the day before his election). This doesn’t, of course, include all the times Kristol must have compared this or that to Munich or Chamberlain or Hilter in his regular television and speaking appearances, not to mention private conversations.

Now pundits of Kristol’s age (very close to my own) are naturally going to repeat themselves or even engage in deliberate or sub-conscious self-plagiarization. But this is pretty extreme, particularly when it involves phony analogies to a unique event of complex origins and consequences that has been reduced to a cartoon repudiation of diplomacy as opposed to military force. I hope next Chait will challenge Kristol to go a whole year–or harder yet, write an entire column on the Iran nuclear deal–without a reference to Munich or its main personalities. I mean, seriously, there’s a lot of human history that occurred before and after this event.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.