Charles Krauthammer

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Charles Krauthammer (1950-) is a national syndicated columnist, who is a trained psychiatrist but does not practice medicine. Beginning with a weekly column for The Washington Post in January 1985, he received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. While Meg Greenfield, editorial page editor of The Washington Post, calls Krauthammer's column "independent and hard to peg politically. It's a very tough column. There's no 'trendy' in it. You never know what is going to happen next,"[1] Krauthammer is widely considered a hard-line conservative, although he was a planner for the Carter Administration and a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, and has written for the New Republic. Rupert Murdoch, however, called him "the outstanding conservative journalist in the country at the moment".[2]

He describes his approach to writing columns as
Much of it has to do with common sense. One of my many missions is putting up a first-line defense against the various enthusiasms of the age – everything from the nuclear freeze to identity politics to the 'recovered memory' movement – which tend to roll over the culture at regular intervals.[1]

Krauthammer is on the advisory board of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

American exceptionalism

Just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he observed that "The gap in power between the leading nation and all the others was so unprecedented as to yield an international structure unique to modern history: unipolarity." The conventional wisdom was that the world would become multipolar. He observed the oddity that the American hegemon had no significant great power enemies, but had a serious threat from an "archipelago of rogue states (some connected with transnational terrorists) wielding weapons of mass destruction."

Who should define American ends today? This is a question of agency but it leads directly to a fundamental question of policy. If the coalition—whether NATO, the wider Western alliance, ad hoc outfits such as the Gulf War alliance, the UN, or the “international community”—defines America’s mission, we have one vision of America’s role in the world. If, on the other hand, the mission defines the coalition, we have an entirely different vision.


He agrees that a liberal internationalist vision, "the multilateral handcuffing of American power" is the dominant view in Europe.[4] He argues, however, for a "new unilateralism" in which the US deploys its power for "global ends", a form of unilateralism very different from isolationism.


Krauthammer has attacked Barack Obama for taking an approach that may be popular with the Arab street, but, in his opinion, violates the assumptions of every peace-for-land agreement in which the United States has been involved. Citing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement calling for "a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."
What's the issue? No "natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them — not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns — even before negotiations.[5]


He has proposed that the President of the United States announce,
It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear attack upon Israel by Iran, or originating in Iran, as an attack by Iran on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon Iran.

This should be followed with a simple explanation: “As a beacon of tolerance and as leader of the free world, the United States will not permit a second Holocaust to be perpetrated upon the Jewish people.”[6]


He argues that militant Islam is an existential threat to Western society. [7] According to Francis Fukuyama, Krauthammer believes that the threat comes from a version of Islam, a religion that is "thoroughly unappeasable and anti-Western."[8]


He disagreed with John McCain's proposal that the US should never engage in torture, particularly in the context of terrorism. In particular, he cites both the "ticking bomb" situation, and the situation of the hard-core terrorist, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who can reasonably be believed to know a great deal about infrastructure and future operations. [9]

Entry into policy work

In 1978, he quit medical practice, came to Washington to direct planning in psychiatric research for the Carter administration, and began contributing articles to the New Republic.

Early life

Krauthammer was born in New York City and raised in Montreal. He was educated at McGill University, majoring in political science and economics, Oxford University (Commonwealth Scholar in Politics) and Harvard (M.D. in 1975). While he became a paraplegic in a diving accident in his first year of medical school, he still completed a residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Charles Krauthammer", Washington Post
  2. Danny Shea (10 June 2009), "Charles Krauthammer: Fox News "Created An Alternate Reality"", Huffington Post
  3. Charles Krauthammer (Winter 2002), "The Unipolar Moment Revisited.", The National Interest: 5-17
  4. Robert Kagan (June 2002), "Power and Weakness", Policy Review
  5. "Charles Krauthammer: Blaming Israel is no solution to Palestinians' problems", Seattle Times, 5 June 2009
  6. Charles Krauthammer (11 April 2008), "The Holocaust Declaration: Iran must know that an attack on our ally Israel will mean retaliation from the U.S.", National Review
  7. Charles Krauthammer (Fall 2004), "In Defense of Democratic Realism", The National Interest: 15
  8. Francis Fukuyama (2006), America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, Yale University Press, ISBN 0300113994, p. 71
  9. Charles Krauthammer (12 May 2005), "The Truth about Torture: It's time to be honest about doing terrible things.", Weekly Standard