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David Brooks’s drumbeat: an ‘expansive foreign policy’

US Politics
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The conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks supported Hillary Clinton in the late presidential campaign, but on Friday on National Public Radio, he offered political props to the populist ideology of the Trump administration-in-waiting–

This is a populist nationalist candidate, and he’s picked by and large populist nationalist people.

before expressing deep enmity to populism:

Populists love rich people. They just hate professionals. So they hate journalists, they hate teachers, they hate lawyers, but they tend to like rich people.

Then he urged Trump to appoint Mitt Romney Secretary of State.

[H]e’s a professional, he’s calm, he’s competent and he does believe in expansive foreign policy… There, I think the populist America-first foreign policy of Donald Trump does run against a potential rival. Of course, I hope he picks that rival because I think Romney’s foreign policy is sensible.

While Brooks was affecting his usual Reasonable Man persona, it is clear that he is very angry about the expert-hating, non-interventionist streak that has helped revolutionize the Republican Party in the last year. Which raises the question of how much responsibility Brooks and his fellow Republican neoconservatives bear for the Trump revolution, through their support for the disastrous Iraq war, which hasn’t gone over that well among populists.

Looking for a mea culpa from the columnist, I found this May 2015, Brooks column titled “Learning from Mistakes, ” in which he never said outright that he had been wrong about his fervent support for that war. The column adopted an attitude of the mystical nature of history, in which causes and effects can’t really be sorted out. I.e., don’t blame me.

Many of us thought that, by taking down Saddam Hussein, we could end another evil empire, and gradually open up human development in Iraq and the Arab world.

Has that happened?… I say yes and no, but mostly no.

The outcome, so far, in Iraq should remind us that we don’t really know much about how other cultures will evolve. We can exert only clumsy and indirect influence on how other nations govern themselves. When you take away basic order, people respond with sectarian savagery.

Of course those of us who demonstrated against the war said just those things (and have never gotten our disaster dividend in social capital). But Brooks managed to conclude that he was still right.

I wind up in a place with… significantly more interventionist instincts than where President Obama is inclined to be today.

Brooks has gotten angry at Obama– blaming the president for the massacre in San Bernardino a year ago because he hadn’t taken on the Russians in Syria:

“Obama’s Syrian agonizing, his constant what-ifs and recurrent ‘what then?’ have also led to the slaughter in Paris and San Bernardino.”

He supported Hillary Clinton because of her interventionism.

early intervention against cancer is safer than late-term surgery.

Brooks’s non-apology Iraq was slammed on the left because he exonerated the ideologues on the right of cooking the books to get us into the war.

There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.

That was a coverup on Brooks’s part. Simon Maloy of Salon called it a “sickening Iraq apologia.” Judd Legum at ThinkProgress scored Brooks for trying “to rewrite the history of the Iraq war,” and failing to admit that he’d made any errors.

The [Senate Intelligence] report…, signed by Republicans and Democrats, concluded that “the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

That conclusion is supported by other evidence. Paul Pillar, the CIA official who oversaw Middle East intelligence, wrote that “intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made.” Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, the administration set up an operation to “reinterpret information” provided to them by intelligence. That group, led by Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, promoted “false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.”

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11 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan
    November 27, 2016, 2:29 pm

    If Brooks was a Russian 120 years ago he would have been pro Cossack.

  2. abbasolomon
    November 27, 2016, 3:07 pm

    This is a provocative thought that may awaken other issues:
    “(Some day the Jewish community is going to have a truth-and-reconciliation process in which leading journalists explain why they supported the Iraq war, even as ordinary Jews were against it.)”.

    One question is whether the idea that there is a Jewish community is more accurate than that there are multivariate communities of Jews.

  3. Bumblebye
    November 27, 2016, 4:12 pm

    the above is a few years old, but by heck it’s funny!

  4. traintosiberia
    November 27, 2016, 8:03 pm

    “There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war. – ”

    It’s not exoneration He is right in the middle ,in the thick of things embedded and is part of the lying machine that led US to war .Unfortunately the machine is still working . He wants the machine not to rust ,wants it to be oiled by Trump .

    • JWalters
      November 27, 2016, 8:53 pm

      Candidate Trump said bluntly that President Bush “LIED” America into the Iraq war. And while the oligarchy servants flipped out, the Republican voter base largely agreed. Brooks should look into the evidence on the internet that the oligarchy’s media voices have tried to dismiss. More and more people are doing an end-run around Brooks and his cohorts. For readers who haven’t seen it, a fairly short, well-substantiated entryway is online in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

  5. JWalters
    November 27, 2016, 8:31 pm

    Brooks’ “Reasonable Man persona” is spot on. The “Reasonable Man persona” is a stock tool in the Republican cover-up strategy. It helps avoid any actual analysis of the facts and logic. It’s a way to tell viewers, “Here’s a reasonable person approximately on your wavelength, so you can trust his conclusions”. Unsubstantiated conclusions are wrapped in phrases like “I’m not so sure that …” and “I’m concerned that …”, implying modesty, open-mindedness, and compassion. On the PBS Newshour Brooks might engage a discussion of BDS thus:

    Brooks: Full disclosure, I get gooey when I think of Israel, and my son is in the Israeli army. That being said, I’m not sure BDS really helps the Palestinians. I’m concerned it may actually work against their interests …

  6. traintosiberia
    November 27, 2016, 8:56 pm

    Even Republican stalwart Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has conceded that, had Congress known before the vote for war what his committee has now discovered, “I doubt if the votes would have been there.”

    What missing form Brook’s brain not only is the reality but the ability to do Kindergarten level math .There was no new intelligence No new data It is was same intelligence that Senate Intelligence Committee looked into and come to a different conclusion.

  7. RoHa
    November 28, 2016, 12:21 am

    “Populists love rich people. They just hate professionals. So they hate journalists, they hate teachers, they hate lawyers,”

    Do populists hate teachers?

    As for hating journos and lawyers, populists are no different from anybody else. They follow the crowd because they are the crowd.

  8. Kathleen
    November 28, 2016, 6:40 am

    Brooks is certainly consistent. Consistently and willfully wrong .
    “There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war. ”

    How many experts warned that the validity of the pre war intelligence was seriously questionable if not absolutely inaccurate, Former head IAEA weapons inspector Scott Ritter did everything in his power to alert the masses, MSM host like Chris Matthews who likes to repeat that he was against the invasion yet consistently had Gaffney, Kristol, Frum, Woolsey on his program repeating the WMD lies over and over again, While Chris would kind of poke fun calling them “the best and the brightest” CM did not have Ritter, El Baradei, Dr. Zbig etc on the experts questioning,

    Remember when El Baradei came out and reported that the Niger Documents were forgeries and bad one at that. I remember thinking in March 2003 that well that will bring a halt to the Bush administrations push to invade. Madness, death and destruction ensued

    Liars and deniers like Brooks who were instrumental in pushing for the invasion of Iraq are complicit in war crimes in my book. He could give a rats ass about how many Muslims have been killed, injured, turned into refugees. Not a care, He is one of the poster thugs for ethnocentricity

  9. AddictionMyth
    November 28, 2016, 9:33 am

    “I don’t think David Brooks is Okay, you guys.” Ugh, I hate to defend the man but seriously the Trumpublicans do not have a ‘non-interventionist’ streak. Unless you think that ‘bombing the hell out of’ everyone with a glimmer of jihad in their eye and ‘restore law and order to the inner cities’ and ‘immediately round up 2-3 million people’ and ‘we must punish the women’ is non-interventionist. Quite the reverse – Trumpkins dream of world domination. As does their Dear Leader. The scary thing is – TrumPutin can achieve it. As for Brooks, he is misguided like all neocons, but Romney would be FAR better than Guiliani in spreading American values of freedom and prosperity (yes Romney has problems of his own – particularly with regard to opiate addiction). AND – Hillary chose relatively dovish Kaine as her running mate – a very positive sign that the age of the neocon was drawing to a close. She would have been far better for the middle east and Israel than Trump. (Nevertheless, I can work with this.)

  10. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    November 28, 2016, 10:36 pm

    Bumper sticker, seen at a folk festival:


    Americans don’t see other people, or if they do they don’t think of them as fully human.

    As for the notion that getting rid of Saddam Hussein would bring about a wave of democracy in the Middle East: In the early 20th century it was the hard left that thought that if you destroyed what you don’t like, it would be miraculously replaced by what you do like. Now it’s the hard right.

    The Bushies, including David Brooks, thought that they could turn Iraq into a democratic, pro-American country. They never could do that. A democratic Iraq would be anti-American. Iraqis remember history that Americans have forgotten, if indeed they ever knew it.

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