In fall 2007, the United States began to withdraw troops from Iraq, and so began the Second Thirty Years' War. This war was a bewildering array of small and vast conflicts, which flared and receded and flared again across the entire Middle East, but which were joined by a common theme.
At one point last week, in the artificial excitement over the release of a report which had been openly and purposely delayed so as not to risk injecting facts into a national election, it looked as if we were going to suffer an infestation of artificial nostalgia for the artificial bipartisanship of our pundit class. I heard on two or three occasions that the report "rejected both sides' argument" or "put the Democrats to the task" or somesuch, but it seems to have died a deserving death. It has to be tough these days on our opinion leaders, drovers of conventional wisdom and shapers of clichés, even when they aren't stuck with Brooks' role of overt "conservative". God knows they loved the war, and the war's backstory: how a plucky political party from the right side of the tracks picked itself up and proved that Vietnam was just a bad dream and they were the world's defenders of Right and True and Good and Plenty. So much so that nobody seems to have come up with an exit strategy for all the limning and the hymn-singing, either.
Brooks, if I recall correctly, tucked a brief mention into one of his columns, something along the lines that he was being forced to rethink the whole Iraq thing. That was roughly a year after everything had turned irrevocably to shit, meaning it was about six months after the vanguard of Beltway insiders had figured out that Something Was Up. I don't recall that he ever delivered. It's possible it happened sometime after the Times' Cone of Silence descended and I missed it, but for the most part Brooks has gone blithely forward since that point excusing support of the war as something of a wrong turn taken at an unfamiliar intersection in a bad downpour, a decision that delayed getting to grandma's by forty minutes or so.
Really, it's impossible for me to understand how this:
Chaos spread as governments in Lebanon and Jordan collapsed. The Palestinian Authority fell into complete dysfunction as Hamas and Fatah waged a low-boiling civil war. Al Qaeda reveled in the bloodshed and spread it with rapturous fury. The spreading disorder vindicated an observation that the historian Michael Oren had once made: that there are really only three nations in the Muslim Middle East: Iran, Turkey and Egypt. The other nations are make-believe.
can be taken as anything other than an insult to the intelligence, even of the supposed middle-dwelling, middle-thinking, open-minded non-partisans of the mass media and our Exoburbs. It's not that Brooks couldn't possibly be right--blind pigs and truffles, after all--it's that if the pig, on pretext of finding you that rare, earthy, eukaryotic ambrosia, had previously led you under the wheels of a fucking bus well, you'd have barbecued him three years back.
Of course Brooks makes no mention of how we got to this point, anymore than he acknowledges that this Domino Theory is the exact opposite of the one we were promised four years ago. Whether it has penetrated anywhere near the skull of Mr. Brooks that we will not be able to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely**, whatever the circumstances, remains unclear. But we do know that we are now being asked to accept the idea that it is the removal of those troops--not the ideas that sent them there on an ill-defined mission they were in no way able to complete, nor the men who allowed them to stay, or to return for three or four tours, who fractured the army--it's the removal of those troops which will be the cause of whatever disaster unfolds in Iraq. Take it from the people who got us into it in the first place.
* Not the actual title, but it should be.
** There's some Superman tie-in commercial out there I've paid little attention to, but it repeats a common comic-book idiocy as Superman catches a flying train or a falling building or something and stands there holding it up. In reality it'd fall apart, and it'd crush him like an ant, no matter how strong he was. This is a precise model for the Go Big and Go Long fantasies.