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Brooks makes sense

April 29th, 2004

Like nearly everyone else, I’ve been deeply disappointed by David Brooks’ Op-ed columns in the NYT. But it’s not only out of a sense of fairness that I’m giving a favorable link to his latest - it’s not only good relative to the other stuff he’s written but better than most other commentary[1]. Referring to the debates over the Clarke and Woodward books, occurring at a time when Iraq looks like sliding into chaos, he says

This is like pausing during the second day of Gettysburg to debate the wisdom of the Missouri Compromise.

Right though this is, it’s obviously helpful to the Republicans, as is the observation that

many Americans have decided that it’s time to persevere and win.

But his final para raises the real issue

Over the next weeks, U.S. forces are going to jump from the fires of unilateralism to the frying pan of multilateralism. What’s going to happen when our generals want to take on some insurgents but Brahimi and the sovereign Iraqi appointees say no?   

Brooks might want to ponder the point that the Bush Administration appears to have no answer to the question he has posed here. They have set up rules that let them ignore the supposedly sovereign government they plan to establish, but it’s obvious that any such action will bring the whole structure crashing around their ears.

fn1. Obligatory blogplugging: That’s old-media commentary, of course. This whole post is a subtle reminder that blogs, including this one, have already moved on from point-scoring and asked the questions that are now being raised by Brooks.

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  1. Tom N.
    April 29th, 2004 at 01:27 | #1

    This is another post midnight post, John; do you never sleep?

  2. April 30th, 2004 at 14:18 | #2

    I think the material at this thread of Brad de Long’s is relevant too: http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004_archives/000710.html.

    It keeps showing American unawareness leading to inadvertent offensiveness, and I don’t just mean “Sir Hastings” but a misunderstanding of right wing thought in other countries (mind you, most left wingers around the world make the same mistakes). Also they persist in thinking that what other people must want is influence over the USA, completely omitting the idea of acting independently of the USA – or refraining from acting because able to wear the repercussions. And there is a repeat of the nonsense about democracies never fighting (have they no grasp of history?).

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