YES, yes, yes; everything bad, everything false, phony, or self-aggrandizingly stupid in modern American culture--we're speaking of its innovations, here, of course, and not the grinding stupidity, acquisitiveness, and brute violence the whole race is heir to--traces directly to Barbara Walters or Gene Roddenberry. However, this should not be confused with their perfection. which is the work of Ronald Wilson "Dutch" Reagan, or, more precisely, of Ronald Reagan Inc., and its hydra-headed subsidiaries, including the telecommunications industry, the Republican party, and David Brooks.
Brooks' point here--I am not, nor could I make this up--is that the very same "qualities" of George W. Bush (which, we may note, people such as Brooks used to tell us were misapprehensions, or the phantasms of Bush-derranged minds) which led to our failure in Iraq (which people such as Brooks used to tell us was an illusion, or the phantasms of Bush-derranged minds) is what led him to make the "courageous and astute" decision--against all advice to the contrary! mind you--to go with The Surge, which has now proven so wildly successful. History is cyclical! One day you're down, the next you're a VH-1 star! Shut up and finish your umbles, war critics!
The cocksure war supporters learned this humbling lesson during the dark days of 2006. And now the cocksure surge opponents, drunk on their own vindication, will get to enjoy their season of humility.
I read this thing without even bothering to consider its rebuttal, which, to be sure, is simply enough as to be effortless: Basra. Mosul. Which demonstrated just who's who and what's what, in case anyone, say a leading Presidential contender, believed otherwise. The popular notion in the United States, a country not known for the reasoned, well-informed military punditry, that the addition of 20,000 troops plus a new doctrinal approach has fundamentally changed anything in what's left of Iraq is as misguided as all earlier declarations of Victory, or its slightly-retarded cousin, Victory in Six Months Time. We've thrown in with the Sunni, where expedient, something the earlier, "humbly deferring" Bush (really, it's a quote) refused to do; we are now in control of not more than half of Iraq's provinces. And it's not even a devil's bargain. There's no corresponding Sunni support for Iraq's Shi'a government, or "government", and violence in Diyala, e.g., may, or unquestionably is, simply being delayed so Bush can ride back to his "ranch" with his, and Brooks', illusions intact, at least in so far as public consumption is concerned.
Of course the government could just be lying its ass off to make a bad situation look better, or what we might describe with regard to the Bush administration as The Default Setting.
Even so, it's not exactly pretty, and insisting that Sunshine, Lollypops, and Rainbows are up, respectively, 23, 84, and 61% is a touch, let's say, macabre. Juan Cole on the new "record low" body count:
But over 500 a month dead in political violence is appalling enough. The Srebenica massacre in 1995 killed 8,000. At the average rate of death in Iraq this winter and spring, a similar massacre will have been racked up in 2008. In the Northern Ireland troubles over 30 years, about 3,000 people died, and it was widely considered a bad situation. That death toll is still being achieved every 6 months in Iraq according to the official May statistics.
So let us repeat for those who don't seem to have been listening, including Times columnists who said, circa December 2005, that maybe they needed to have a bit of a rethink on this whole Iraq Success Story, then went silent until they judged it safe to pop back up and say Told Ya!: you were wrong, so astonishingly wrong about Iraq that it is beyond question that your assumptions, your predictions, your certitudes and your guarantees had nothing whatsoever to do with Reality, and everything to do with the blind faith that the tiniest involuntary muscle twitch of the American right was not just correct, not just philosophically justified, but Divinely inspired. You were not proved wrong about Iraq in the fall of 2003; you were proven clinically, certifiably, and cynically, to boot, the victim of megalomania profundus. This was not a slow leak, to be patched at leisure. The balloon popped, the bucket had no bottom. You put everything on Black, and you lost. You do not get to come back five fucking years later and say, There! I told you Black was going to come up! and demand your winnings, respect for your (latest) version of events, or that we now accept a share your humiliation. No sireee, as we say in the Land of real Appleby's customers; you're done, long since, and you have no standing at any point to return to the debate, let alone shape it.
Nah, y'know, I wasn't thinking that at all. I was thinking about how flappers and jitterbugs, hepcats and Beats and longhaired freaks could all, at some point, simply fade back into the crowd scene when their moment in the spotlight was over, but the trendy Reaganauts of Brooks' generation have doomed themselves to repeating sophomoric profundities over and over to a diminishing audience, as if Sisyphus had to endure, not just eternal worthless labor, but the humiliation of everyone laughing at him as his rock kept getting smaller and smaller, without his seeming to notice.