When Will David Brooks Wake Up?
"We're not in the middle of a war on terror, they note. We're not facing an axis of evil. Instead, we are in the midst of an ideological conflict."
He then adds:
"It seems like a small distinction - emphasizing ideology instead of terror - but it makes all the difference, because if you don't define your problem correctly, you can't contemplate a strategy for victory."
Sounds reasonable, you say. Indeed it does. And that's the problem. It is just the kind of reasonable observation he should have been making all along. He shouldn't have needed the 9-11 report to tell him this.
He was wrong about Iraq--and finally admitted it recently. Now he is saying he was wrong about the war on terrorism, too.
It was President Bush who nonsensically declared war on terrorism. It was he, our putative educator-in-chief, who miseducated the public about the nature of the enemy we face.
Both liberal and conservative intellectuals have been finding fault with the way Bush has framed the issue. I can remember a column by David Corn in the Nation several years ago pointing out that you can't declare war against a tactic. I also remember a column by Daniel Pipes, also published years ago, which concluded the enemy is radical Islamism and we need to face that.
Bush's war has been sabotaged from the start by his misguided approach. It's what happens when you put a C student into a job requiring the brains and intellectual curiosity of an A student--or at least someone who displays the intellectual breadth of an A student.
Brooks will still pull the lever for Bush in November, I suspect. But why? Bush has fumbled the two leading foreign policy challenges of his presidency (9-11 and Iraq). Is anything more important than getting foreign policy right in an era like ours?
If there is perhaps David Brooks can enlighten us. Me, I can't fathom what that might be.
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mark safranski - 8/3/2004
" You can't declare war against a tactic "
Sure you can. Piracy was an age-old tactic. So was slave-raiding. Britain did a fair job of suppressing both by the simple expedient of having the British Navy hang pirates and slavers. It took a while but it worked.
Civilized humanity has also " declared war ", if intermittently, on the perpetrators of genocide and the users of chemical weaponry. Terrorism might be added to such a list if we care to make the diplomatic effort and use tribunals to mete out death sentences to those found guilty of targeting civilians or fighting out of uniform.
Sadly, the Bush administration has not opted to pursue either route, viewing an anti-Terror convention talks as a waste of time and to keep all the top captured al Qaida figures for interrogation rather than trial. Right now terrorists can feel pretty confident that regardless of their actions, if they are captured, American authorities are too afraid of world opinion to hold trials that are likely to result in the death penalty.
GS Chandy - 7/28/2004
I've been reading David Brooks's columns in the New York Times for quite a while now, and have found them to be some of the finest entertainment available - MUCH funnier than 'Friends', as a matter of fact. As a 'historian', Brooks is is almost as much of a joke as is his hero, GW Bush, as 'POTUS'.
Earlier, I used to allow myself to become very angry about the lies and the misdeeds of 'President' GW Bush and his miserable Gang - till I learned that this was entirely futile. My anger at GW Bush and Gang (and other such criminals around the world) was achieving nothing except making me much more angry!
THEN ONE DAY I discovered the right way to look upon GW Bush and his doings!! They are all just a massive joke (on the citizens of the USA, on the world as a whole). [Here in India where I live, Jay Leno's telecasts are not easily available - but on reading transcripts of some of his comments, I believe he may have it just about right].
Below, I list some of the misdeeds of GW Bush (and Gang): Take them seriously, and you will only become very angry - with GW Bush, with the state of the world, etc. You will be able to do NOTHING about all of this, which will utterly frustrate you!
On the other hand, consider it all to be a massive (perhaps somewhat cruel) joke - then you may be able to substitute laughter for anger, which is very much healthier for you and for the world.
‘President’ GW Bush:
-- Stole the election in 2000
-- Lied to US citizens to take the nation to war on Iraq
-- Lied to US Congress to get funding for his war on Iraq
-- Lied to the world
-- Took the US into an illegal war on Iraq
-- Brought condemnation of the world on the US
-- Squandered the goodwill the world had for the US after 9/11
-- Brought shame to the US through actions of sections of his forces in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib in Baghdad
-- Spent $ 200 billion on his wars on Afghanistan and Iraq – Missions still not accomplished
-- Went into Afghanistan with much sound and fury – then, without trying to demonstrate a good job there, invaded Iraq - took the US into a quagmire
-- Evaded his military duty
-- Went AWOL from the National Guard
-- Trumpeted a phony ‘Mission Accomplished’, after a phony flight to the USS Abraham Lincoln (with both take-off and landing being done by someone else)
(After GW Bush’s "Mission Accomplished", at least 500 US soldiers have died in Iraq)
-- Created a deficit of $ X trillion (from a surplus of $ Y trillion) [an accomplishment that the best economists have to applaud.
-- Cut taxes of the very rich
-- Squeezed the middle class and the poor – education, medical care….
-- Cut benefits due to soldiers ….
-- GW Bush administration enabled Halliburton, Bechtel, etc to profiteer from the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan
-- Someone in the GW Bush administration ‘outed’ Valerie Plame - no action yet by GW Bush
Etc, etc, etc.
Just look at all of the above as one huge multi-part joke that GW Bush and Gang are playing on the world (you and me) - and look upon the 'historian' David Brook as being just one of GW Bush's Merrie Men: you will then discover a vast, practically infinite, mine of laughter.
The best joke will be if US citizens in return play a GREAT BIG JOKE on GW Bush and Gang - THROW THEM ALL OUT ON THEIR EARS IN NOVEMBER!
- Craig Shirley says Ted Cruz is right and the Huffington Post wrong about Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Presidential Campaign
- Mystery at Notre Dame: A priest-historian has been forced to back off a project promoting authentic Catholic education
- William & Mary launching a gay history project
- "I teach the largest gay and lesbian history class in the country."
- Another year of declines in history enrollments