Broken Record, Broken Bones: David Brooks and More War

Hell by H. Bosch

There’s a special place in Hell for pundits like David Brooks, or so Glenn Greenwald implies this morning. He masterfully reprises Brooks’ savage mongering for war in Iraq and compares it to his mongering for war in Afghanistan, The Afghanistan Imperative. [An essay taken from his compilation, Armchair Armourer.] Glenn also helpfully links to Gary Sick‘s dissection of similar arguments made for war in Iran.

One could be excused for confusing which war Brooks is selling – Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran – not because of faulty geography, but because Brooks’ arguments that the Empire continually make war, not peace, rarely distinguish the location. The threat is always existential, if imaginary or overstated. It is also profitable, for a few, thanks in large part to the outsourcing that has been Dick Cheney’s obsession since he was George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense during Gulf War I, an obsession he continued during and after his chairmanship of KBR’s former parent, Halliburton.

Among Bobo’s distorted facts and faulty forecasts at the start of Gulf War II:

1. "If [Congresscritters]are going to vote against a resolution saying Saddam has not disarmed then they are liars."

2. "I do admire [Paul Wolfowitz] enormously, not only because he is both a genuine scholar and an effective policy practitioner, not only because he has been right on most of the major issues during his career, but because he is now the focus of world anti-Semitism.

3. "Events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or [French President Jacques] Chirac….If we succeed, we will be a nation infused with confidence. We will have done a great thing for the world, and other great things will await."

As Glenn notes, Mr. Brooks omitted to say what a great thing it would be for the world if we were wrong. Mr. Brooks has not chosen to correct that error and it’s obvious why. For his false forecasts, he was plucked from the chapel of the conservative Weekly Standard and given a pulpit at the episcopate known as the New York Times.

That’s like hiring a convicted spouse abuser to manage a halfway home for abused spouses. The opportunities multiply, and negligence becomes reckless disregard for readers and, more importantly, for the men and women at the sharp end of the warmaking stick. It is they who are sent to war by those who regard Mr. Brooks as their second most important source for opinion, one step behind Tom "Another Six Months" Friedman and one step ahead of psychiatrist-turned-patient Charles Krauthammer.

Bobo’s contribution today is that we can’t "hide" in hermetically-sealed bases in Afghanistan. We need to employ Gen. McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy to the hilt and send small groups of men and women,

outside the wire in dangerous places in remote valleys, providing security, gathering intelligence, helping to establish courts and building schools and roads.

Never mind the armchair ease with which he talks about sending men and women into harm’s way, or that they might be constantly on edge, not knowing if they’ll be electrocuted in the shower owing to faulty base construction. Never mind the contradictory goals of killing the innocent along with the accused, often via drone attacks, and the building of schools, roads and trust. Never mind the succession of empires that have brutally failed to subdue Afghanistan, from Alexander to Victoria to Russia and America.

It doesn’t seem to be "victory" that Mr. Brooks realistically expects, just war. In that, he claims agreement with Barack Obama, whom he declared was,

"right a few months ago when he declared, ‘This will not be quick, nor easy. But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. … This is fundamental to the defense of our people.’"

There may be standing room only by the time Mr. Brooks arrives in Hell. But his welcome may not be as gentle as that accorded pillagers, looters, lawyers and fornicators by Rowan Atkinson as the Devil in, Welcome to Hell. His welcome may be more like that of the lost souls imagined by Hieronymus Bosch.

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