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The U.S. Wasn’t “Drawn” Into Iraq

David Brooks couldn’t be more wrong [1]:

We are now living in what we might as well admit is the Age of Iraq. The last four presidents have found themselves drawn into that nation because it epitomizes the core problem at the center of so many crises: the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam [bold mine-DL].

That isn’t why the last three presidents were “drawn” into Iraq, and it is at best only part of the reason why Obama is allowing himself to be dragged back in. The previous three presidents chose to use force in Iraq and impose sanctions on Iraq for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with “the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam.” Except in the delusions of pro-war propagandists, there was no “interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam” in Iraq before 2003 because the latter had little presence and no power. The invasion helped to destroy whatever semblance of secular governance there was. Indeed, it was the principal reason why that governance ceased to exist.

The war created the chaos in which jihadism began to thrive in the country. For that matter, the war was not a matter of being “drawn” into the country, but of illegally invading it on a shaky pretext. Obama entered office when secular governance in Iraq was a thing of the past, and has been drawn back in because of the clash between a sectarian government and its enemies. The U.S. has spent the last twenty-three years bombing, occupying, sanctioning, and otherwise interfering with Iraq, but virtually none of it had anything to do with countering radical Islam, and this was something that the U.S. chose to do. The U.S. wasn’t “drawn” into Iraq, but rather opted to be there in some fashion for two decades, and it was the U.S. presence itself that unleashed and drew in these forces as a result of the “aggressive, preventive action” that Brooks now thinks is so necessary.

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21 Comments To "The U.S. Wasn’t “Drawn” Into Iraq"

#1 Comment By Charlieford On August 12, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

Wow, is that ever bone-headed. Good catch.

#2 Comment By Egypt Steve On August 12, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

There are plenty of other places where radical Islam and failing secular governments have intersected. Funny how we keep getting “drawn” into the one with all that oil.

#3 Comment By Dennis Brislen On August 12, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

Brooks down for the ten count. No rematch necessary.

The Brooks narrative however, gives lie to the idea that PNAC inspired daydreams are dormant. Further evidence, the beltway Sunday propaganda machine falling all over themselves to give the lecturn to McCain/Graham/King and their traveling pony show.

The Dems should parse all this carefully when considering the prospect of Hillary Clinton as standard bearer.

#4 Comment By SteveM On August 12, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

Another quote from the Brooks’ article:

Clinton speaks as a Truman-Kennedy Democrat. She’s obviously much, much more multilateral than Republicans, but there’s a certain muscular tone…

Just what America needs, more Trillion exercises in militaristic muscle flexing by an arrogant nitwit mediocrity greased into the Oval Office by the War Party Nomenklatura.

Sheesh…

#5 Comment By spite On August 12, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

I cannot understand how people like Brooks are allowed to get away with such blatant untruths.

#6 Comment By William Burns On August 12, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

It is perhaps fair, however, to point out that Iraqis are living in the “Age of the United States.”

#7 Comment By jk On August 12, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

Pentagon considers sending more advisors…

You can’t make this stuff up. We can’t even use Vietnam metaphors anymore, is saying Iraq metaphors banal?

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#8 Comment By Barry On August 12, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

Charlieford says:

“Wow, is that ever bone-headed. Good catch.”

I’ve never seen anything by Brooks which isn’t bone-headed.

spite says:

“I cannot understand how people like Brooks are allowed to get away with such blatant untruths”

That’s his job. Telling the truth would result in him spending much more time with his family.

#9 Comment By Anderson On August 12, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

And that’s how history gets rewritten. One day we will pick up a book about how the U.S. “sleepwalked” into Iraq.

#10 Comment By collin On August 12, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

William Burns, LOL

I am always bothered by the lack of empathy on the number of Iraqi lives lost with the war.
Can the NYT forbid David Brooks ever writing about foreign?

#11 Comment By Leo H On August 12, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

David Brooks, houseboy “conservative” for the NYT, has but little knowledge of what the American people want or think although he is an expert on the desires of people in his neighborhood. Projecting that vast experience onto the world across the Hudson River or the Atlantic and once again to the mysterious Levant it always boils down to one show. It would just kill enough of them they’d happily open up some Golden Arches. I would encourage Brooks to just go ahead and call for a drone strike on Ron Paul. After all this pumped-up wimp probably couldn’t take the old doctor in a fistfight.

#12 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 12, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

On September 25, 2009 Glenn Greenwald wrote an article for Salon entitled “David Brooks: our nation’s premier expert warrior — The NYT columnist’s shameful war record should discredit him for life. Why does the opposite happen?”

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Greenwald quotes from six pro-Iraq-invasion articles that Brooks wrote for The Weekly Standard between Sept. 30, 2002 and March 17, 2003.

After reading these Brooks-beats-the-drums-for-war-on-Iraq quotes, any reasonable person would be astonished that Brooks could still be employed as a jouralist by any reputable news organization:

[1] David Brooks, Weekly Standard, March 7, 2003:

“I do suspect that the decision to pursue this confrontational course emerges from Bush’s own nature. He is a man of his word. He expects others to be that way too. It is indisputably true that Saddam has not disarmed. If people are going to vote against a resolution saying Saddam has not disarmed then they are liars. Bush wants them to do it in public, where history can easily judge them. Needless to say, neither the French nor the Russians nor the Chinese believe that honesty has anything to do with diplomacy. They see the process through an entirely different lens.”

[2] David Brooks, Weekly Standard, January 29, 2003:

“This was speech as autobiography. President Bush once again revealed his character, and demonstrated why so many Americans, whether they agree with this or that policy proposal, basically trust him and feel he shares their values. Most Americans will not follow the details of this or that line in the address. But they will go about their day on Wednesday knowing that whatever comes in the next few months, they have a good leader at the helm.”

[3] David Brooks, Weekly Standard, February 21, 2003:

“I mentioned that I barely know Paul Wolfowitz, which is true. But I do admire him 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. He carries the burden of their hatred, which emanates not only from the Arab world and France, but from some people in our own country, which I had so long underestimated.”

[4] David Brooks, Weekly Standard, November 11, 2002:

“In dealing with Saddam, then, we are not dealing with a normal thug or bully . . . The Baathist ideology requires continual conflict and bloodshed. . . . The CIA and the State Department might think otherwise, but we are not all game theorists. Human beings are not all rational actors carefully calculating their interests. Certain people–many people, in fact–are driven by goals, ideals, and beliefs. Saddam Hussein has taken such awful risks throughout his career not because he ‘miscalculated,’ as the game theorists assert, but because he was chasing his vision. He was following the dictates of the Baathist ideology, which calls for warfare, bloodshed, revolution, and conflict, on and on, against one and all, until the end of time.”

[5] David Brooks, Weekly Standard, September 30, 2002:

“EITHER SADDAM HUSSEIN will remain in power or he will be deposed. President Bush has suggested deposing him, but as the debate over that proposal has evolved, an interesting pattern has emerged. The people in the peace camp attack President Bush’s plan, but they are unwilling to face the implications of their own. Almost nobody in the peace camp will stand up and say that Saddam Hussein is not a fundamental problem for the world. Almost nobody in that camp is willing even to describe what the world will look like if the peace camp’s advice is taken and Saddam is permitted to remain in power in Baghdad, working away on his biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs . . .
You begin to realize that they are not arguing about Iraq. They are not arguing at all. They are just repeating the hatreds they cultivated in the 1960s, and during the Reagan years, and during the Florida imbroglio after the last presidential election. They are playing culture war, and they are disguising their eruptions as position-taking on Iraq, a country about which they haven’t even taken the trouble to inform themselves. . . . For most in the peace camp, there is only the fog. The debate is dominated by people who don’t seem to know about Iraq and don’t care. Their positions are not influenced by the facts of world affairs.”

[6] David Brooks, Weekly Standard, March 17, 2003:

“So now we stand at an epochal moment. The debate is over. The case has gone to the jury, and the jury is history. Events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or Chirac…But there are two nations whose destinies hang in the balance. The first, of course, is Iraq. Will Iraqis enjoy freedom, more of the same tyranny, or a new kind of tyranny? The second is the United States. If the effort to oust Saddam fails, we will be back in the 1970s. We will live in a nation crippled by self-doubt. 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.”

Remember: Brooks has never recanted and he is still employed as a journalist!

Brooks still writes about foreign affairs!

Incredible! Just incredible!

#13 Comment By ed_finnerty On August 12, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

The reason that the US went to Iraq was to fail the secular government. The US was threatened by the success of a secular arab government (not owned by them) not its failure.

#14 Comment By EliteComInc. On August 13, 2014 @ 6:02 am

“Remember: Brooks has never recanted and he is still employed as a journalist!

Brooks still writes about foreign affairs!

Incredible! Just incredible!”

That isn’t saying much —

There are still in Congress. They are still working in the WH, that state department, they have radio shows, TV programs etc.

In the financial industry after sending it down a slide perhaps permanently
— they are still operating as ceo’s analysts, instructors, advisors, etc.

#15 Comment By Frankie and Johnny On August 13, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

Can’t blame Brooks for trying out a new narrative. His other ones all had to be roundfiled.

#16 Comment By Richard Parker On August 13, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

23 years bombing Iraq…in 150 years historians will write about the US Oil wars on Iraq as they now write about the British Opium wars on China. The whole affair will seem incomprehensible.

#17 Comment By James Canning On August 13, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

Bravo, Daniel. The idiotic US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the result of a conspiracy to set up an illegal war on the basis of knowingly false intelligence. Full stop. What nonsense from David Brooks!

#18 Comment By driftglass On August 13, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

Long ago David Brooks stopped writing “columns” full of “facts” about “stuff” altogether and started writing a collection of Whig Fan Fiction short stories.

These stories are not about the world as it actually exists, but the world as Mr. Brooks wishes it to be. And since he is not a very good fiction writer, there are many, many points where the gears of the real world and his fake Whig World grind and howl, forcing Mr. Brooks to apply gallons of fictive lubricant to keep the keening noise of the real world ripping Whig World off its hinges from drowning out the tepid drone of his writing.

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#19 Comment By cecelia On August 14, 2014 @ 3:56 am

fan fiction – great !

I agree that every fool who beat the drum to invade Iraq should have been fired or at the least ignored. Such hubris – he was wrong and it inspires not an iota of humility in him – he just keeps on going.

At some point do people like Brooks – or Clinton – ever think about the men and women who had to fight that war?

#20 Comment By Joseph R. Stromberg On August 14, 2014 @ 9:01 am

Another old favorite in which Brooks finds his inner Berserker: “We will destroy innocent villages by accident, shrug our shoulders and continue fighting. In an age of conflict, bourgeois virtues like compassion, tolerance, and industriousness are valued less than the classical virtues of courage, steadfastness, and a ruthless desire for victory.” — Weekly Standard, November 5, 2002.

#21 Comment By Anonne On August 17, 2014 @ 2:29 am

And that’s how history gets rewritten. One day we will pick up a book about how the U.S. “sleepwalked” into Iraq.

This. It is part of the conservative propaganda machine, moving the goal posts so that they could justify the Iraq invasion and wash their hands of culpability for the morass that is Iraq now. It’s a tribal marker at this point. “But Saddam Hussein was a threat” is the usual response to the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction, conveniently forgetting that Saddam Hussein was not any immediate threat justifying the full scale invasion of that country.

They own the media, and have thoroughly cowed the so-called “liberal media.” This is why David Brooks still has a job outside of what passes for think tanks, owned by conservatives. They are indeed trying to rewrite the facts because by owning the media, they think they have “won” the war on history. And so many of the Republican base are so eager to defend this tripe that they suck it up willingly.